Irondale girls track features young lineup

Contending for the North Suburban Conference championship is an annual goal for the Irondale High School girls track and field team. This year’s team will try to achieve that goal with a lineup full of young athletes.

When co-head coach Tom Franta supplied a list of the team’s top returning athletes, there were no seniors among the half-dozen names.

“We have few upperclassmen but good role models and leaders,” said Franta, who is co-head coach with Andrea Butler. Franta added that the incoming new talent is also young.

All six athletes Franta included in his top returners list were All-Conference in 2013 and included a returning conference champion. Sophomore Chichi Ogbonnaya won the 100-meter dash at last year’s conference meet as a freshman.

Joining Ogbonnaya in leading the sprinters are sophomore Emily Brandt and freshman Michelle Meyer.

Irondale also brings back a pair of All-Conference hurdlers in eighth-grader Julia Hayes and junior Sarah Skubal.

The Knights’ leading returning thrower is junior Andrea Bland, who took third in the shot put last spring.

While Irondale has plenty of high-end talent coming back this spring, overall depth is lacking and could pose problems when the Knights compete against larger teams.

Last year, Irondale tied for fifth place in the team standings at the North Suburban Conference meet. Franta expects Totino-Grace and Spring Lake Park/St. Anthony Village to challenge for the top spot this season and is hoping to see his team also be a factor.

The three teams that left the conference after last spring ñ North Branch, St. Francis and Chisago Lakes - finished first, third and tied for fifth, respectively, last year.

Irondale tried to open its season last week but both meets on the schedule were cancelled because of weather and poor facility conditions. The Knights will try again this week with a pair of meet on the docket, including a trip to Faribault High School on Tuesday.

There is also a home meet scheduled for Friday. The annual “Knights Under the Lights” meet features Anoka, Buffalo, Centennial, Coon Rapids, Hastings, Richfield and Robbinsdale Armstrong.

Brian Meyers can be reached at

2014 Irondale High School girls track and field schedule

April 11    Knights Under the Lights    3:30 p.m.
April 17    Home triangular    4 p.m.
April 22    at St. Louis Park invitational    4 p.m.
April 24    at Centennial invitational    3:45 p.m.
April 25    Hamline Elite meet    5 p.m.
April 29    at Fridley invitational    4 p.m.
May 6 Section true team at Mounds View    3:15 p.m.
May 13    North Suburban prelims at Fridley    4 p.m.
May 15    North Suburban finals at Fridley    4 p.m.
May 22    Greenslit Relays    4 p.m.
May 28    Section 5AA prelims at Hamline    2 p.m.
May 30    Section 5AA finals at Hamline    11:30 a.m.
June 6    State meet at Hamline    9 a.m.
June 7    State meet at Hamline    9 a.m.

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