Improvement is the name of the game for Irondale girls cross country

The Irondale High School girls cross country team finished in the top half of the standings in both the conference and section meets a year ago. With last year’s top seven runners returning this fall, head coach Brent McGrew would like to see his team climb even higher in those events.

“Expectations and goals for the season are to improve as a team in our section placing and to be competitive in our new conference,” said McGrew, who is in his third season as the Knights’ head coach and teaches at Highview Middle School.

That new conference is the Northwest Suburban, where Irondale landed following the disbanding of the North Suburban Conference. Elk River was the only team in the conference to receive votes in the Class AA preseason coaches poll.

Elk River qualified for the state meet last year and returns six of its top seven runners. Totino-Grace and Anoka, also Northwest Suburban members, also made state last year and return five and six of their top runners, respectively.

Sophomore Michelle Meyer is back for Irondale after leading the team in last year’s conference and section meets. She finished seventh overall in the North Suburban Conference meet and was 16th in the Section 5AA meet.

Junior Sarah Anderson was second in both the conference and section meets while the next five spots changed but went to the following runners: Danielle Franke, Abby Pearson, Hanna Boleman, Lili Tapper and Mary Heinks.

Holly Peterson is also back this season and could make a push for a varsity spot, as could newcomers Elizabeth Axberg and Ashley Kluz.

“They look to have the most promise as newcomers to the team in the short time I’ve seen them run,” McGrew said of Axberg and Kluz.

In addition to the team goal, McGrew is also looking to see each returning runner show improvement over last year and have some individuals reach the state meet.

“The strength of our team is the closeness of our runners in terms of our time spread from our number one through five runners,” said McGrew. “Last season, we were missing a real front-runner to get a low score. Our goal is to move our scoring pack up in the race this year.”

Irondale’s first chance to try and show that improvement is Aug. 28 at a meet hosted by Park Center and held at Central Park in Brooklyn Park. Other teams expected to compete include Blaine, which is another Northwest Suburban Conference team, Dassel-Cokato, Edina, North St. Paul, Orono, Robbinsdale Cooper and St. Francis.

Brian Meyers can be reached at

2014 Irondale High School girls cross country schedule

Aug. 28    Invitational at Central Park (Brooklyn Park)    3:30 p.m.
Sept. 4    Invitational at The Vintage Golf Course        4 p.m.
Sept. 11    Invitational at Anoka High School        3:30 p.m.
Sept. 20    Invitational at Apple Valley High School        9:45 a.m.
Sept. 25    Invitational at Hyland Park Reserve        3:30 p.m.
Oct. 9        Conference meet at Elk River Golf Club        3:30 p.m.
Oct. 23    Section 5AA meet at Anoka High School        3:30 p.m.

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