For the first time in Class AA history, St. Michael-Albertville holds both the Section 5AA girls’ and boys’ team championships.
The Knights cruised to victories on both sides as seniors Rachel King and Chase Cayo ran to first place overall finishes in the girls’ and boys’ competition, respectively, held Thursday, Oct. 23 in Anoka.
For Cayo, it’s his second straight Section 5AA championship (to be fair, he lost one to teammate Brendan Sage), while it’s King’s third in a row.
King was pushed, on the girls’ side, by teammate Lizzy Heil, a sophomore sensation who looks to be the future of the Knights’ girls program. Annalise Davis, an eighth-grader, also secures the girls’ long-term future as a powerhouse on the 4K track. Davis finished ninth overall.
The girls’ team was rounded out by Mia Salas, another eighth-grader, who finished in 14th place; and sophomore Katie Zachman, who finished 30th. Out of the top five were Pagie McAloon (a seventh-grader) who was 50th in the meet, and junior McKenna Rogers, who took 55th.
The girls’ will head to Northfield as a team next weekend for the State AA Meet, held at St. Olaf College. Their top score of 56 points was well ahead of Centennial, who finished second and will also participate in the team meet. Totino Grace was third.
Meanwhile, Cayo led the Knights to a 63-point finish, 20 points better than Centennial, who also finished second and earned a state bid on the boys’ side. Mounds View, with 95 points, was third.
Christian Eiynck, a senior, was the second overall finisher for the Knights, wrapping up in 13th place. He was joined by 14th-place finisher Jackson Connelly, a junior, and 17th and 18th place finishers Lukas Layton and Jake Monseth, giving STMA five runners in the top 20.
Alex Wolseth, a sophomore, finished 24th and senior Jake Coulson was 32nd, both out of the top 5 scoring runners, but with solid efforts overall, less than a minute behind Eiynck.
“You can have guys run as a pack but they’ve to want to get that pack somewhere up in the front if you want to be successful,” coach Gregg Greeno has said about his team’s winning ways. “Our guys have been able to do that year in and year out.”
The Knights have had a lot of recent success on the cross country scene, and coaches and runners both credit offseason workouts and dedication during both the cross country season and track season to that growth. Runners continue to train over the summer, Greeno said, culminating with a weekend retreat for both the boys’ and girls’ teams in a vacation spot such as the Black Hills or northern Minnesota.
The miles racked up almost becomes competition-like, seeing which runner can lead the team through the summer.