Murray Middle School and Como Park High sports roundup
Como Park Cougars
Senior all-state guard Andrayah Adams, who is headed to St. John’s in New York on a full-ride scholarship this fall, led the Lady Cougars and the state in scoring. Como repeated as the St. Paul City Conference champion, earning the outright title with a 12-0 conference record. They handily defeated every conference opponent twice and played through a challenging nonconference schedule that helped raise their profile and earn a No. 3 state ranking by the end of the regular season.
In post-season play, the Lady Cougars won the Twin Cities Game over Minneapolis Southwest. They then advanced to the state tournament after winning the Section 4AAA Championship (read about it here).
Several Como hockey players had key roles on the St. Paul Blades, which is a cooperative program for Como, Central, Highland, Great River and Nova. Coach Ryan Paitich said the team improved significantly, notching five more victories than a year ago.
The team’s motto was “outwork.” The Blades’ put an emphasis on outworking their opponents, and it showed with spirited effort and determination. The Blades swept the season series against Minnehaha United to win the inaugural Twin Cities Cup.
Coaches Jill Bachmann and Marv Rouse led each gymnast to improvement. Josie Schermerhorn began the year as the only Como gymnast able to compete in the all-around. By the end of the season, five Como gymnasts had gained the skills needed to compete in the all-around, which includes the uneven bars, vault, balance beam and the floor exercise.
Patsy Thayieng, Taylor Owens, Kamaria Bradford, Lizzie Larson, and Rachel Ruskin were all team leaders. Schermerhorn was the MVP, Larson won the award for Hardest Worker and Best Attitude, and Bradford was voted Most Improved.
The boys and girls teams trained together throughout the season, with differentiated training methods based on ability and experience. Each skier improved his or her fitness and race times during the course of the season. The boys were led by senior Tuomas Sivula. The girls were led by senior Ellie Thorsgaard.
The Cougars participated in the prestigious Mesabi Invite up north at Giants Ridge before preparing for the city and section meets. Participation in the program was healthy with 25 skiers.
Sophomore Corey Guenther added to the Como wrestling legacy by qualifying for the state tournament at the Xcel Energy Center. After winning the Section 4AA Championship in the heavyweight division, Guenther did not advance at state, but gained valuable experience and concluded his season in the arena where every wrestler wants to be.
Sophomore Andrew Barnard earned All-Conference at 138 pounds, along with Guenther at heavyweight. Coach Tijl van der Wege says the future is bright, with a team that features a critical mass of freshman, including Raymond Chester who placed sixth in Section 4AA at 152 pounds.
The Como Cougars are a co-op team with Central, and the combination of players from both schools meshed seamlessly to play with unselfish unity. Coach David Bakken said the team worked hard in the weight room and on the ice. Senior leadership was strong.
Seniors who earned the coveted team awards include: Ian Tully for Best Practice Player, Locker Room Leadership and Strongman; Patrick Kolias for Most Improved; Sebastian Tippett for Most Effective Player; Kevin Smith for the Kevlar Vest Award for most blocked shots; Matt Hageman for the Iron Throat Award for craziest blocked shots; and Truman Emmings for a Strongman Award.
Senior Demetrice Mitchell led the team in scoring again this season. He passed the 1,000-point mark for his high school career during the season and ended up with an average of 23.8 points per game. He was fourth in the state for total points scored.
The Cougars were tied for fourth place in the city and recorded a victory over conference cochampion Central, while also played two highly competitive, tight games against Johnson, the other cochampion. The Cougars’ defense was upgraded with the instruction of coach John Robinson.
As previously reported in the Bugle, the young and promising swimmers posted a thirdplace conference finish. Freshman Josef Miller swam an excellent race in the 50-yard freestyle at the Section 4AA meet, just a half-second shy of qualifying for state. Miller and junior co-captain Joe McCune-Zierath earned St. Paul City All-Conference status.
Honorable mention was earned by sophomore co-captain Cole Napierala, sophomore Jared Czech, and freshman Frank McGuire.
With a deep roster of hard workers, 19 Murray wrestlers placed in the top five of their weight Scull stated that was the highest number in the last five seasons. Jessie Nelson, Ethan Mills and Dao Yang each finished second in their weight class. Feilong Lee and Pedro Acosta were city champions of their respective weight classes. Lee, Yang, and Simon Heck wrestled all three years at Murray and were commended for their commitment. Overall, the team finished in third place.
The Pilots were undefeated in the regular season and finished at the top of the conference. The team improved dramatically from last season, winning five more games than they did last winter. Coach Brian Pearson commented that the girls practiced with diligence and consistently stayed later than official practice times in order to improve their skills. The city championships were led by Demya Riley, Dinnea Riley, Hannah Hausman, Jada James and Kamora Shambley.
As the Bugle went to press, the team was in second place in the city conference with a record of 10-1 and on pace to play in the City Championship game. The boys have been working hard and are blessed with talent. The team has two highly dynamic players in Amari Carter and Drew White. Both are able to dunk the basketball with ease, which is quite rare for middle school basketball.
Baseball, softball, badminton and track begin practice on March 28!
Eric Erickson is a social studies teacher at Como Park Senior High School and a longtime coach of school and youth sports in St. Paul.