STMA senior Ali Weimer capped off a perfect cross country season by winning the State AAA Cross Country individual title Saturday, Nov. 6, at St. Olaf College in Northfield.
In typical fashion, Weimer ran from the front, pulling away in the last mile for a 15 second margin of victory over runnerup Sydney Drewlow of Hopkins. It was the fifth consecutive trip to the State meet for Weimer and the fourth time that she placed in the “top ten” at the State meet as she placed ninth as an eighth grader, seventh as a freshman, fourth as a sophomore, leading to her individual championship this year.
Last season’s State meet was canceled due to the pandemic, in which she would’ve more than likely placed in the “top 10” once again, as a junior.
Weimer’s winning time of 17 minutes 42 seconds at the State Meet 5K course wasn’t her personal best, but very respectable on the tougher course. She had won the Lake Conference individual title earlier this season in a school-record, outstanding time of 17:17. Weimer becomes the first ever STMA male or female athlete to win a State cross country individual title. Only two other STMA female cross country runners had earned “top 10” finishes at the State meet. Rachel King placed sixth in 2014 and Lauri Grambart placed sixth in 1998, STMA’s final season in Class A.
As a team, the Knight girls placed fourth among the 16 State qualifying teams. The Edina girls won the state team title with a winning low score of 75 points, followed by Wayzata-100, Prior Lake-117, and the Knights-176 points.
Coaches Matt Venaas and Lizzy Heil were elated with the outcome of the meet. Coach Venaas said, “Not only was Ali the state’s most outstanding runner, but she was the leader of our team in so many ways. We coaches appreciated her leadership, but her competitiveness, and her work ethic gave her the success. She was so tough when that gun went off.”
For the 2021 Knight girls’ cross country team, it was the 11th time they have qualified for the State meet, as a team, in cross country and the 8th consecutive season that they have qualified.
As far as the team’s effort, Coach Venaas, said, “Getting fourth at State as a team was a very great accomplishment. It was so fun to coach these girls this season, because of their team chemistry, how they supported each other, and how hard they worked.”
The STMA boys did not qualify as a team, but qualified senior Caden Nordberg as an individual. Nordberg placed ninth and earned “All State” by placing in the “top 25” individuals, but by placing in the “top 10” he earned a podium finish.
During the race, Nordberg started out conservatively, moved up to about 16th place with a mile to go, was in 11th place with 500 meters remaining, before moving up to ninth with a strong, homestretch kick. Nordberg’s time for the 5K race was 15 minutes 46 seconds, a personal best, even on a tough course. His time ranked him fourth on the all-time STMA boys fastest cross country 5K’s.
It was historically the 11th time an STMA male runner has had a podium finish by placing in the “top 10” at State.
Current STMA boys’ cross country coach, Chase Cayo has been the only Knight male cross country runner to accomplish a “top 10” finish twice at the State Meet, placing sixth as a junior in 2013 and fifth as a senior in 2014.
Other male Knights earning podium finishes at State include: Brendan Sage (eighth-2012), Jake Autio (fifth-2009), and Dan Greeno (eighth-2005). STMA runners that earned that distinction when STMA was in Class A include: Martin Robeck (fifth-1998), Joe Lynch (eighth-1998), Mike Stoick (fourth-1994), Lyle Robeck (10th-1993), and Murray Bourelle (fourth-1983).
Coach Cayo commented on Nordberg’s State meet performance. He said, “He ran a very smart race and finished strong to crack that top 10. For all the adversity that Caden experienced, not even competing all last season due to some physical difficulties, makes his outstanding achievement at State even more impressive. It’s been a very gratifying season for me as a first year coach and the runners that I coached made it fun. I look forward to next year and who we have coming back.”