Como Park Cougars
Boys soccer—For the fourth consecutive season, the boys soccer team qualified for the state tournament. The 2015 team had a unique journey to get there (see story). The regular season was a bumpy ride for the Cougars. While there were periods of quality soccer from the new combination of teammates, consistency and cohesion were challenges, evidenced by an 0-2-4 record to start the season.
Through the steady leadership of second-year head coach Jonah Fields and veteran captains Israel Castillo Guzman, Ryan Yang and Tyler Johnson, the team persevered and discovered their winning formula for the Section 4A tournament, advancing to state and finishing with an overall record of 9-7-5.
Football—As previously reported in the Bugle, the Como Cougars Football team started the season facing the challenges of lower numbers, inexperience and some tough early losses. The resilient Cougars kept working and won three of their last six games, including a convincing 47-22 first-round section play-off win over Brooklyn Center.
The team’s improvement throughout the season was undeniable. With football’s new competitive format, all-district honors were earned by seniors Trey Clay and Demetrice Mitchell, junior Donnie Ventrelli and sophomore Corey Guenther. Honorable mention players included seniors Erik Hoonsbean and Zuriel Cushing, junior Charlie Kray and sophomore Robert Adams.
Cross Country—The boys and girls cross country teams bonded with disciplined training and traditional team dinners. The girls team featured all-conference honorable mention runners Eva Hanson, Ana Caballero and Bridget Proper. Senior captain Mary Miles earned all-conference, placing second overall in the City Conference meet. Junior Florence Uwajenza finished in first place to become the St. Paul City Champion. Her brother, Innocent Murwanashyaka, finished in first place on the boys side (see story).
Senior captain Tuomas Sivula supplied support to all runners, along with fellow senior Geleto Roba who earned all conference. Freshman Isaac Harker earned all-conference honorable mention.
Volleyball—The Volleyball team featured a special senior class of five players that Coach Kim Smisek said “has not only been important to our success this year, they have molded our program over the past four years.”
The success this season was an 11-1 conference record and the St. Paul City Championship (see story). The conference title is the second for this group. They helped form the core of the 2013 conference championship season when they were sophomores. Bekah Hausman, Olivia Berven, Emily LaCroix-Dalluhn, Delilah Wolf and Sinead O’Duffy have now concluded their Como volleyball careers, but the returning players and rising junior varsity talent will work to keep the program strong.
Girls soccer—As previously reported in the Bugle, the Lady Cougars had a young but deep squad that helped the team combat injuries and still succeed. The final overall record of 8-6-3 was achieved with three freshmen in the starting lineup and several defensive combinations that proved to be adaptable.
Senior Brianna Menssen was the team’s leading scorer, registering 15 goals, which earned her all-conference recognition. All-conference honorable mention players included senior forward Angie Martin, junior defender Dah Dah and freshman midfielder Anna Erickson.
Girls tennis—Led by captains Emma Hartmann, Mira Kammueller and Lizzy Larson, the team improved their record from the previous year to finish with a 3-3 record against St. Paul City opponents. The Cougars featured a versatile line-up with players alternating between singles and doubles play depending on the need. Senior Tamera Hines played at the top of the doubles ladder successfully with several teammates.
The girls worked hard for a new coach and also spent time together off the court enjoying team dinners.
Girls swimming—Eleven dedicated Como swimmers produced a fourth-place finish in the conference. Individual highlights included strong performances in the conference meet from senior Katie Young in the 50- and 100-yard freestyle. Junior Georgianne Kinsman achieved personal bests in the 200- and 500-yard freestyle. Senior Lia Chin-Purcell achieved a second-place finish in the 50-yard free and third in the 100-yard free. For the second consecutive year, a Como swimmer won the Roger Bosveld Spirit Award. Chin-Purcell earned the prestigious honor, given to the most outstanding swimmer in the conference, based on success in swimming, academics and community service.
Volleyball—The Pilots were the undefeated champions of the St. Paul City Championship, winning all of their matches in the regular season and sweeping through the end of the season conference tournament. The team was dominant, finishing with an 11-0 record and winning every tournament match in two straight games. The peak moment came in the intense championship match against Capitol Hill. The Pilots pulled out back-to-back 25-22 wins to complete their perfect season.
Girls soccer—Thirty-five middle-school girls worked hard and had fun developing their skills, noticeably improving through a successful season that ended with the Pilots posting an overall record of 8-1-1. After losing the first game of the season against Highland, the girls never lost again, playing great defense to record six shutouts.
Eighth-grade captains Kiersten Howatt, Sadie Murphy and Olivia Ahrens were consistently positive and encouraging, which carried over to the rest of the team. The team was well-balanced with many goal scorers and all players willing to try multiple positions to help the team.
Boys soccer—The Pilots were one of the 11 St. Paul middle-school teams that showcased great skill and quality, helping to explain why the St. Paul City Conference is such a competitive high school soccer conference with deep pools of talent. The Murray boys battled to an overall record of 4 wins and 6 losses in the city and were led by eighth-graders that set foundations of leadership to build on for next year’s returning players. Standout players included Abdul Aziz, Saw Ray and Charlie Rogers.
Flag football—Several key returning players from last year’s team brought the Murray Pilots Flag Football team to a second-place finish in the St. Paul City Conference. With a record of 9 wins and 2 losses, including an eight-game winning streak, the season was very successful. The team had a high-powered offense led by Jalen James, Drewjuan White, Nicholas Jacobson, Ephraim Mau and team MVP Amari Carter, who had “the greatest one-hand catch” Coach Pearson said he’s ever seen.