The St. Michael-Albertville High School cross country team will have not only a lot of runners to choose from, but return a lot of runners with experience at a high level for the upcoming fall season.
Head coach Gregg Greeno, in his 10th season as the coach of STMA cross country, welcomed 112 participants for this year’s boys and girls teams for grades 9 through 12, for practice, which started Aug. 11. Greeno is assisted by Kevin Crocker and Heather Strait, with volunteer coaches Matt Venaas, Kelsie Lungstrom, and former Knight standout runner, Jake Autio.
Andy Cleveland assisted by John Hertwig coach the 7th and 8th grade cross country runners, currently with 64 runners signed up as they start the season.
The Knights return 10 girls (see photo) who earned varsity letters last season and 3 All-Conference performers, including 2-time Conference champ, senior Rachel King, and 2-time All-Conference and last year Conference runner-up, Lizzy Heil, along with Belle Nyhus, All-Conference last season. King is also a 2-time All-State performer (14th in State in 2012 and 13th in 2013), as is sophomore Lizzy Heil (23rd in State in 2012 and 12th in 2013). Captains for the girls are King plus seniors Abbie Herbst and Maddie Jesser.
The Knight boys return 4 All-Conference performers that include defending Conference champion, senior Chase Cayo, senior Jake Monseth, and juniors Lukas Layton and Jackson Connelly. The Knight boys will attempt to defend their team title from a year ago, at the Conference Meet on October 14th at Buffalo. The boys return 8 varsity letterwinners from last year’s team. Chase Cayo was All-State last season placing 6th at the State Meet, the highest place ever by an STMA runner, as a junior.
Boys’ captains include seniors Cayo, Monseth, and Christian Eiynck.
“We’re optimistic about the season,” said Greeno, “being smart and staying healthy, and working hard and improving throughout the season are keys to being successful. Our team goals are high this season, and that will depend on everyone being ‘all in’ and doing what needs to be done for the team, for both boys and girls. Our captains are solid leaders and and that should help us, too.”
The Knights open their season at the Monticello Invitational at Vintage Golf Course Thursday, Sept. 4. 7th and 8th grade boys and girls races are at 4 PM and 4:15 PM, respectively, while Boys JV starts at 4:30 PM, Girls JV at 4:55 PM, Varsity Boys at 5:20 PM and Varsity Girls at 5:45 PM.
Varsity lineups for the Knights were determined at a scrimmage earlier. Boys varsity runners for the first meet include: Chase Cayo (12th grade), Jake Monseth (12), Lukas Layton (11), Christian Eiynck (12), Jackson Connelly (11), Jake Coulson (12), and Alex Wolseth (10). Girls that earned varsity spots for the season opener include:
Rachel King (12), Lizzy Heil (10), Annalise Davis (8), Belle Nyhus (10), Mia Salas (8), Megan Kucera (10), and McKenna Rogers (11).