Reviewing the Como winter sports season

By Eric Erickson,
Sports analysis

Here’s a roundup of Como highlights from the 2023-2024 high school winter sports season.

Boys swimming: For the fourth consecutive year, the Cougars concluded the season at state. Before qualifying for state events at the Section 4A Meet, a Como relay team broke a conference record that stood since the 1990s.

The 200 Medley Relay team of seniors Oskar Helegn, Kai Sackreiter and Kyle Kosiak, plus sophomore Joey Schumacher set the St. Paul City Conference record in early February, combining to swim the four different required strokes in 1:40.64.

Kosiak was the individual conference champion in both the 100 Butterfly and 100 Backstroke. At sections, Kosiak broke two school records in the same events while finishing first in the 100 Fly and second in the 100 Back.

Sackreiter was the individual conference champion in the 100 Breaststroke. At sections, Sackreiter qualified for state in that event as well as the 50 Freestyle.

Schumacher earned the section championship in the 100 Freestyle. Helgen qualified for state in the 200 Individual Medley.

The depth of Como’s roster revealed itself with two relay teams also qualifying for state: the 400 Free with Garrett Seppanen, Adi Toe, Noah Williamson and Ian McKea, plus the combo of Seppanen, Schumacher, Sackreiter and Kosiak in the 200 Free.

The state meet on March 2 concluded with Como’s 200 Free Relay team placing tenth, Sackreiter placing 11th in the 50 Free and Kosiak earning a sixth-place state medal for the 100 Fly.

Coach Jon Tufte was selected the Section 4A Coach of the Year. Kosiak was the Section 4A Swimmer of the Year.

Nordic skiing: Despite a lack of snow this winter, the Cougar Nordic ski team was able to compete on courses where snow-making machines are utilized. The Twin Cities Nordic Conference Meet took place at Theodore Wirth Park in Minneapolis on Jan. 26.

Coaches reported that team performance and camaraderie were excellent. Sophomore Henry Simmons placed third overall, earning all-conference. Sophomore Ben Clark and junior Niko Turnure received honorable mention.

Girls basketball: Como won its tenth straight St. Paul City Conference title and hosted the Twin Cities Championship Games against Roosevelt, the Minneapolis champ. While the Cougars lost the varsity game, the fact that both the junior varsity and c-team also qualified for the Twin Cities games (and the JV won) is an indicator of more conference success to come.

In the Section 3AAA Tournament, Como was the No. 3 seed. After a comfortable home win over Highland Park in the quarterfinals, the Cougars conquered No. 2 seed Cretin-Derham Hall in the semifinals.

That set up a re-match with Roosevelt, the No. 1 seed, for the section championship and a shot at state. In a packed gym at Roosevelt, the Cougars fought hard but fell just shy in a 50-49 loss.

While dreams of state were dashed for 2024, a young, skilled, hard-working nucleus is excited for the future.

Boys basketball: The Cougars finished the regular season with a record of 8-17 and the No. 8 seed for the section tourney. That set up a play-in game versus No. 9 Simley to see who would advance to the quarterfinals. With a 65-56 victory, the Cougar seniors created a memory by winning the final home game of their careers and avenging an earlier loss to Simley.

Senior captain Mason Aarness and sophomore Contrell Jenkins were all-conference. Junior Jahari Hill and senior Zalaen MacCallum earned honorable mention.

Wrestling: Senior captain Will Stiles won the St. Paul City Conference title in the 160 lb. weight class and bested the Minneapolis champ to become the Twin Cities Champion.

The number of girls competing in wrestling continues to climb. Como’s female contingent traveled with other St. Paul City Conference competitors to wrestle in the Southern Section Meet at Redwood Falls. The overnight trip and wrestling on a larger stage were bonding experiences, increasing excitement and interest in a growing sport. 

Eric Erickson is a social studies teacher at Como Park High School and a longtime coach of school and youth sports in St. Paul.

Photo cutline: The Como boys swim team celebrated its success at the Section 4A Meet where for a fourth consecutive year, the Cougars qualified for the Minnesota State Meet. Photo by Lisa Sackreiter.

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