Irondale girls cross country trying to build on strong 2015

The 2015 cross country season was one to remember for the Irondale High School girls team. A pair of third-place finishes in the final two meets of the season in 2015 gave the Knights their best post-season in a number of years.

With seven returning letterwinners, Irondale is hoping for another solid campaign in 2016.

Of the seven runners who competed in the conference and section meets last year, five return. Two of them were all-conference in 2015 and won a title at the state track and field meet back in June.

Seniors Michelle Meyer and Liz Axberg are back following all-Northwest Suburban Conference seasons a year ago. Meyer finished 10th and Axberg was 13th at the 2015 conference championship meet. They also made up half of Irondale’s Class AA state championship 4x400-meter relay team last spring.

Also returning are seniors Lucia Mesfin and Holly Peterson and junior Ashley Kluz. Newcomers who head coach Brent McGrew expect to challenge for varsity lineup spots are junior Maria Doku and Elizabeth VanLoon. Doku has been a member of Irondale’s girls track and field team.

“We’d like to stay in the top half for the team in both the conference and section meets,” said McGrew, who is in his fifth season as head coach. “We’d also like to get some athletes to the state meet again.”

Irondale’s lone state-meet entrant last season was Danielle Franke, who was a senior. Also graduating off of the 2015 squad was Sarah Anderson, who was the Knights’ second runner across the finish line at the section meet.

McGrew said that the top four runners on this year’s team should be close in terms of finishing times and the next three should also be strong. After the top seven, there’s a bit of a drop-off so staying healthy is key.

Anoka is the defending Northwest Suburban Conference team champion and the top seven Tornadoes last year were underclassmen. Robbinsdale Armstrong was second at the 2015 conference meet and graduated two from its top seven.

In Section 5AA, St. Michael-Albertville won the team title and only one of its top seven was a senior. Anoka was the section runner-up.

Irondale opens the season on Friday at the Central Invitational at the University of St. Catherine in St. Paul. The meet lineup includes five schools from the St. Paul City Conference along with Centennial, Chanhassen, Chaska, North St. Paul, Nova Classical Academy and Roseville.

 

Brian Meyers can be reached at bmeyers@lillienews.com or 651-748-7819. Follow him on Twitter @BMeyersNews.

 

 

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