A special fall sports season for Como

By Eric Erickson

Two-hundred-fifty student athletes represented Como in competitions this fall across levels ranging from freshmen squads to varsity. Here’s a summary of accomplishments.

Boys cross country: For the first time since 2010, the Como boys won the St. Paul City Conference title. It was earned by a young roster anchored by senior Mason Aarness, who was the individual city champion, finishing the 5K course (3.1 miles) in 16:16.

The Como cross country program had a spectacular season. Photo by Eric Erickson.

Also earning all-conference honors were sophomores Hazel Small and Ben Clark, and freshmen Arthur Anderson and Charlie Loth. Senior Garrett Seppanen battled injury but still competed. Junior Niko Turnure and Murray eighth graders Jamal Monibah and Luna Small were also key varsity contributors.

A week after securing the conference crown, the Cougars qualified for their third straight state meet by placing second in Section 4AA. (The top two teams from each section qualify.) Out of 16 teams at state, Como finished 11th as Mason Aarness concluded his career with all-state honors for a second consecutive year.

Girls cross country: The team experienced a revival with several young runners. A complete roster with depth delivered a solid third place finish in the conference and an impressive fourth place finish in Section 4AA (out of 11 teams).

Junior Margaret Spray earned all-conference honors. In the section meet she qualified as an individual for state.

Even better, Spray was joined at state by seventh grade teammate Lu Beckman, who qualified in her first year of running cross country. The state meet was a celebration for the entire Cougar program and could be for years to come.

Girls swimming: The “Jomo” co-op team (St. Paul Johnson and Como)—featured in a Bugle article earlier this season—earned second place in the city conference, their highest finish since 1990. To attain that milestone, they passed the Highland Park/St. Paul Academy co-op team at the city meet.

Two Como relay teams became conference champions while also setting new school records: the 200-medley relay team with sophomore Aleia Lueck and seniors Mia Trifilette-Simons, Sophie Warner and Alice Wagner-Hemstad; and the 200-freestyle relay team with senior Maddy Schilling, Lueck, Warner and Trifilette-Simons.

In individual events, Trifilette-Simons was the conference champ in the 50 freestyle and 100 freestyle. Lueck was the conference champ in the 100 butterfly and 100 backstroke. Warner and Wagner-Hemstad earned individual medals at conference as did Hattie Miller and Adeline Hanson.

Volleyball: For the first time in program history, the Cougars advanced to the section final in consecutive seasons.

It was a fun run through the Section 4AA Tournament with a home win versus St. Anthony Village in the quarterfinals before a road trip to Chisago Lakes for the semifinal on a Friday night. Como filled a fan bus of student supporters.

There was plenty to cheer as the No. 4 seed Cougars came back to win 3-1, upsetting the No. 1 seed.

Another fan bus accompanied the Cougar team to the section championship at Mahtomedi. While the dream of a state tournament didn’t materialize for Como in the 3-1 loss, outstanding effort and skilled play produced pride and a second-place section trophy.

Seniors Ellery Tennison, Julia Pletch, Mairin Blank and Greta Seppanen were all-conference selections while Xee Lee received honorable mention.

Girls soccer: The Cougars held onto their third place standing in the St. Paul City Conference and finished the 2023 campaign with an overall record of 6-5-2.

All-conference performers included senior defender Kora Becker, senior goalkeeper SaySay Hinton, junior midfielder Ava Lopez (who recorded 11 goals and 12 assists) and freshman forward Nini Modisett (17 goals).

Honorable mention was earned by juniors Giselle Sanchez-Esparza, Jailyn Walker and Hser Paw. Allana Skoogman was chosen Section 4AA assistant coach of the year.

Girls tennis: The team’s record was 3-3 in the city conference and 5-10 overall. Poem Vang was voted St. Paul City coach of the year. Seniors Ashley Hartwich and Angie Jimenez-Valerio earned all-conference as did sophomore Sofia Gonzalez. Honorable mention was earned by freshmen Ela Cantellano and Aurelia Haycraft. Senior Lisa Truong won the sportsmanship award.

Boys soccer: The boys finished third in the St. Paul City Conference with a 4-2 record. The overall record was 6-9-2. Seniors Baw Reh and Ku Reh and junior Takato Muramatsu were all-conference. Senior keeper Liam Donegan, senior Kwai Lay Lo and junior Soe Reh received honorable mention.

Football: Como rattled off four straight wins during the season before a close first round playoff loss.

All-district players included seniors Matthew Corniea, Will Stiles, Luke Glad and Thierry Tetevi who was also voted the sub-district most valuable defensive lineman. Honorable mention was earned by seniors Oscar Ward, Denzel Schuna, Bruce Blaisdell, Yer Guide and sophomore Jeremiah Ranson. 

Eric Erickson is a longtime coach of school and youth sports in St. Paul.

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