Of course, every cross-country season begins with a bang: of a starter pistol, that is. But this season also began with the bang of a strong performance for both varsity boys and girls at the Monticello Invitational last Saturday morning.
The girls’ varsity team swept the invitational with a strong first place finish out of 10 teams. All seven of their varsity runners placed in the top 15, with STMA junior Annalise Davis winning the race with a time of 18:55 for the 5-kilometer (3.1 mile) race.
Eighth grader Ali Weimer crossed the finish line shortly after in third place, with a time of 19:03. Two other STMA runners placed in the top 10: junior Mia Salas in 7th and eighth grader Katie Sigerud in 10th.
STMA’s first place score of 29 points bested second place Becker, with 47 points, and third place Monticello, with 84 points.
The team is fairly young this year, with two in eighth grade, one freshman, two sophomores and two juniors. Girls’ head coach, Heather Strait, said they had been watching Weimer and Sigerud run last year and saw their potential, so they asked them to train with their high school team over the summer.
“We could tell right away that they’d be able to keep up, and they did,” Strait said.
Strait said their goals for this season include winning conference and sections again this year, and they also hope to compete at the state meet as a team again this year and place better than last year’s 8th place finish out of 16 teams.
“We would love to be on the podium,” Strait said. “I’m not sure yet if that is out of our reach-that might be a better goal for next year. But just based on our first race, we might have it in us this year. It’s a little early to tell.”
The Boys’ Team
On the boys’ side, the Knights took second place out of 14 teams, with only Sartell besting them. Junior Jonah Breuer led the way for STMA with a time of 16:34 for second place, which was only a half-second shy of the first-place finisher’s time. Junior Carter Knaus finished third with a time of 16:42. While STMA did not have any others in the top 10, three of them finished in the teens and all seven of their racers finished within the first 32 places out of 91 total.
“Sartell is rated in the state,” head coach Gregg Greeno said. “We knew Sartell would be tough, and our two top boys (Breuer and Knaus) ran right with the two top Sartell boys, who are very highly regarded. That was good to see for them.”
Sartell finished the meet with 28 points, STMA next with 51 and Hutchinson rounded out the top 3 with 84 points.
The junior varsity teams followed suit with their varsity counterparts, with girls’ junior varsity taking first place in their race and boys’ junior varsity taking second.
The STMA cross country teams head to Anoka later this week for their next competition, and their home invitational takes place on October 3.