Como Park Cougars
Boys soccer: For the fifth consecutive season, the boys soccer team qualified for the Minnesota state tournament. The Cougars ground through the gauntlet of St. Paul City competition and also faced several highly ranked nonconference opponents during the regular season. Como peaked in the Section 4A tournament, shutting out their three opponents on the path to the section title before losing the state quarter-final match to St. Thomas Academy, finishing with an overall record of 11-6-3.
Senior captain Tyler Johnson earned All-State and was selected as a Mr. Soccer Finalist, an honor designated for the top five players in the state chosen by a committee of coaches. Senior midfielder Archie Gjerdrum was an All-State second team choice. Junior Lah Htoo earned All-Conference, as did Johnson and Gjerdrum. Bwe Doh Htoo was the team’s leading scorer with 11 goals and five assists.
In addition to competing, players volunteered as youth coaches last summer and also coached at Northwest Como Rec Center one Saturday during the season. The team continued to represent the Como community with class on and off the field.
Football: The Como Cougars football team stayed competitive throughout the season, despite a slew of injuries that forced several key players to miss critical games. This was evident with the first round play-off victory over Breck 39-17. Breck beat the Cougars in week three of the regular season.
Team leaders included juniors Robert Adams, Will Wooten, Timitrius Simmons and Donny Ventrelli. Seniors Somsavon Saengdara and Charlie Kray played key roles on both the offensive and defensive lines. Senior Ali Bility was a resilient force at linebacker. The team shared unique experiences this season, including a visit to the Minnesota Vikings training facility where they interacted with players and NFL staff.
Cross Country: As previously reported in the Bugle, the boys and girls teams trained together and bonded through a variety of team activities. Both teams achieved third-place finishes in the St. Paul City Conference. Senior Florence Uwajenza finished All-Conference for a second straight year. Seventh-grader Saylor Landrum was All-Conference Honorable Mention. Boys co-captain Eli Pattison, a junior, raced to All-Conference status. Sophomores Isaac Harker and Antero Sivula claimed All-Conference Honorable Mention.
For the second straight season, senior Innocent Murwanashyaka was the St. Paul City Champion. He blew away the field to become the Section 4AA Champion. And on Nov. 5, he placed third in the state meet at St. Olaf College in Northfield with a time of 15:48.
Volleyball: The Cougars volleyball program had high participation with a varsity, junior varsity and c-team participating this year. The varsity team’s senior class showed its growth over the years, stepping in to starting positions and keeping the team competitive. Rachel Love and Eliana Wiersma both were All-Conference selections. Alisha Nordman and Alexis Schuck were All-Conference Honorable Mention. Freshman Anisa Smith emerged as a promising setter for the future after being called up to the varsity halfway through the season. The team finished 6-6 in the middle of the city standings.
Girls soccer: The Cougars’ hard work and commitment to unselfish team play produced a memorable season marked by more possession and a huge increase in goal scoring, tallying 24 more than in 2015. Freshman Shar Htoo (Mu Chee) lead the team with 20 goals and 9 assists. Mu Chee was chosen All-State second team, the first All-State girls player for Como in 10 years.
Also contributing to the attack were junior Emily Forstrom with 10 goals and eight assists and sophomore Gianna Gabrielli with eight goals. The defense was anchored by junior Tu Lor Eh Paw, sophomore Celia Olson and sophomore goalie Cece Wulff. The Cougars finished third in the city with an overall record of 9-6-2.
Girls tennis: Senior captains Mira Kammueller and Lizzy Larson brought the Cougars together with positive leadership and encouragement. The captains played in the top two singles spots consistently throughout the season. Sophomore Victoria Hartwich-Cedillo became a strong singles player showing great improvement over the summer and through the season as well.
A reliable lineup emerged for the doubles teams as chemistry developed among younger players in the program. With six of the 10 starters returning, next year looks promising.
Girls swimming: The hard-working and dedicated Como swimmers produced a fourth-place finish in the conference. The St. Paul City conference meet was significant for the Cougars, as each swimmer produced a personal best, revealing the improving times that their work in the pool produced. Swimmers finishing in the conference’s top eight for their respective events are senior Georgie Kinsmen, junior Adrianna Tarver and freshman Amira Boler. At press time, the swimmers were still practicing for the Section 4A meet on Nov. 10 and 12.
Volleyball: The Pilots played excellent volleyball throughout the season and showed great resiliency in the season’s final week. After an emotional loss to Highland in the final game of the season, the girls regrouped for the end of the season tournament. Working their way to the championship match of the tournament, the Pilots found themselves in a rematch versus Highland. The volleyballers bounced back to beat Highland and earn the tournament title.
The team’s eighth-grade leaders were Morgan Nichols, Hannah Hausman, Keyera White, Nora Thomey, Demya Riley, Claire Driscoll, Nag Poe, Stacy Yang, Tess Turnure, Tana Ososki, Adrian Henderson, Brianna White and Soraiya Myers.
Girls soccer: With an 11-0 overall record, the Murray girls’ soccer team won the St. Paul City Conference Championship. In addition to sweeping their city rivals, the Pilots posted convincing victories over Roseville, St. Paul Academy and Minnehaha Academy. Players were supportive of each other and unselfish on the field.
There were two games in which seven different players scored the team’s goals. Events off the field, such as serving at Feed My Starving Children, helped bond the team and develop a positive spirit. Captains selected by the team were Amelia Moseman, Abrianna Armenta, Rachel Erickson and Kendall Ross. Olivia Barnes led the team in goals. Maddy DeGaetano was the team’s steady goalkeeper.
Boys soccer: The Pilots were challenged by the fierce competition of St. Paul school soccer and an abundance of talented players across the city’s teams. The Murray boys kept battling and improving, finishing with a strong win against Highland to end on a high note.
Extraordinary eighth-grade goalkeeper Yan Ke (Camp) kept the team close in many games with brilliant saves. Seventh-grader Damian Perryman was also strong in the back as the team’s sweeper. Numbers in the program are high, and dozens of players who gained experience this season will be back to lead the team next year.
Flag football: The Murray flag football team was undefeated and claimed the St. Paul City Conference championship after finishing in second place a season ago. The Pilots rolled to many comfortable victories. In close games against Capitol Hill and American Indian Magnet, the team triumphed showing they could play under pressure.
Flag Football is a popular sport at Murray and all the middle schools in the St. Paul Public Schools system.
Eric Erickson is a social studies teacher at Como Park High School and a longtime coach of school and youth sports in St. Paul.