The boys’ and girls’ cross country teams at St. Michael-Albertville High School had one mission in mind: Reward coach Gregg Greeno with a pair of conference championships on his 60th birthday.
Tuesday, Oct. 14, the Knights did just that, as seniors Rachel King and Chase Cayo repeated as individual champions, leading STMA to comfortable wins on the girls’ and boys’ side in the Mississippi 8.
On the girls’ side, King racked up yet another conference championship with a run of 14 minutes, 29 seconds in the 4,000 meters, more than 30 seconds better than anyone else in the conference. Sophomore Lizzy Heil finished in third place with a time of 15 minutes, 20 seconds, leading a pack of finishers around that 15 and a quarter mark for the race. Caught up in that top 10 group was eighth-grader Annalise Davis, who finished in seventh at a time of 15 minutes, 27 seconds.
All four of the Knights girls’ other runners capped off All-Conference runs – Mia Salas (eighth grade) was in at 16:12; Page McAloon was in 13th despite being just a seventh-graders, and sophomore Katie Zachman was right behind her in 14th, both finishing under 16 minutes, 30 seconds. McKenna Rogers came in 19th, also staying under that 16 and a half mark.
The Knights finished with just 35 points, well clear of second-place Monticello.
On the boys’ side, Chase Cayo was more than 30 seconds better than anyone else in the 5K, leading the pack at 16:07. In sixth place was Lukas Layton, a junior, followed by fellow junior Jackson Conelly in ninth. Christian Eiynck and Jake Monseth finished 12th and 13th, respectively, to put five Knights in the Top 15 and pace the boys to an easy win over Buffalo, who took second.
Rounding out the varsity boys’ top runners were Jake Coulson (28th) and sophomore Joey Herbst (34th), as the Knights scored 41 points to lead all teams.
Both the girls’ and boys’ varsity squads will run next Thursday afternoon at the Section 8-2A meet in Anoka. The meet begins at 3 p.m.
Meanwhile, the boys’ and girls’ middle school teams each captured conference championships, as did the boys’ junior varsity. The girls’ JV team was second, falling to Monti by just three points.
Girls’ Soccer – St. Michael-Albertville 3, Rogers 0
In a much different game than the one held just two weeks ago, the St. Michael-Albertville Knights girls’ team walked away with a much different result – and a Section 8-2A Championship.
After falling to Rogers in a game that would ultimately decide the Mississippi 8 Conference crown (it ended up being a 3-way split between Rogers, STMA and Princeton), the Knights made sure this game didn’t go until the final minute of stoppage time.
Leah Johnson broke free in the Rogers backfield thanks to a pretty setup from Mackenzie Langdok, and the striker put away her first goal of the game in the 18th minute of the first half, staking STMA to a 1-0 lead.
The Knights kept attacking, and broke through again just 20 minutes later, moments before the half, in the 38th minute. Again, it was Johnson who found a hole in the defense and broke through for another goal, giving the Knights a 2-0 lead at the half.
STMA was in a similar situation against Elk River in the Section semifinal – holding a 2-0 lead, but the Elks were the aggressors for much of the second 40 minutes of that match, eventually breaking through to halve the lead 2-1 in with 17 minutes left.
Coach Megan Johnson’s team was determined not to repeat that performance.
“We know Rogers well enough that neither team is going to let up, and no one’s going to back down,” Langdok said prior to the match. “Any time you play them you have to stay on your best game for the full time.”
The Knights did just that Tuesday, continuing to attack down field. It paid off when, with a bit of a wind assist, Tori Jensen drilled one home from beyond the 18-yard box in the 48th minute, giving STMA a 3-0 lead.
From there, it was academic. Rogers made some runs but Anita Thommavangas and her defense turned away all shots in preserving the shutout.
It’s the Knights’ second Section Championship and subsequent State AA Tournament appearance in the last three years. STMA fell to the Elks in last year’s final in a shootout, and fell to Anoka in the final twice as well in its last six years of dominance.