Irondale girls track chasing bigger foes

When the North Suburban Conference disbanded a few years ago, Irondale High School was placed in the Northwest Suburban Conference, which at the time had 11 schools all with larger enrollments. Irondale went from being the biggest school in the North Suburban to the third smallest in the Northwest Suburban.

The Irondale girls track and field team is headed into its second season competing in the Northwest Suburban and has its sights set on those larger schools. The Knights finished sixth in the NWSC meet last season and are looking to improve upon that number this year.

Head coach Tom Franta, who is his 12th year as head coach and 21st at Irondale, said his squad is shooting for a top-three finish at the conference meet late next month.

Julia Hayes is one of 17 returning letterwinners back for the Knights this season. Although only a sophomore, Hayes has already competed in two state meets, including as a freshman last year when she qualified for state in three events.

Hayes ran in both hurdle events at state last year and also helped the 4x400-meter relay team qualify. As an eighth grader, Hayes competed at state in the 300-meter hurdles.

Franta also has a number of other athletes who he feels can achieve all-conference and/or all-section status this season. They include seniors Emily Brandt (400, 800), Greta Nundahl (400, 800), Sarah Anderson (1,600, 3,200) and Chichi Ogbonnaya (long jump, triple jump) and junior Liz Axberg (1,600, 3,200).

As for newcomers with potential, there is eighth grader Araceli Engel (100, 200), junior Michelle Meyer (400, 800) and junior Maria Doku (800).

Irondale also finished sixth in the Section 5AA meet last spring. 

Franta likes the experience that his team possesses and is excited about the new faces out for the team this year. Overall depth compared to other teams in the Northwest Suburban is a concern, as is the team’s lack of throwers.

The Knights open their season on April 5 with a home triangular meet with Fridley and Prior Lake. They are in action twice next week with a trip to Faribault for an invitational meet on April 12 and the eight-team Knights Under the Lights home meet on April 15.


Brian Meyers can be reached at or 651-748-7819. Follow him on Twitter @BMeyersNews.


2016 Irondale High School girls

track and field schedule


April 5 — vs. Fridley, Prior Lake at 4:30 p.m.

April 12 — at Faribault invitational at 4:30 p.m.

April 15 — Knights Under the Lights at 3:30 p.m.

April 19 — at St. Louis Park invitational at 4 p.m.

April 22 — vs. Spring Lake Park/St. Anthony at 4 p.m.

April 29 — at River Falls invitational at 3:30 p.m.

April 29 — Hamline Elite Meet at Time TBA

May 3 — at Buffalo invitational at 3:30 p.m.

May 10 — Section true team at Mounds View 3:15 p.m.

May 17 — Greenslit Relays at 4 p.m.

May 24 — NWSC prelims at Maple Grove at 3 p.m.

May 26 — NWSC finals at Irondale at 3 p.m.

June 1 — Section 5AA prelims at Hamline at 2 p.m.

June 3 — Section 5AA finals at Hamline at 1 p.m.

June 10 — State meet at Hamline at 9 a.m.

June 11 — State meet at Hamline at 9 a.m.


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