Today at 10:00 AM, the Cross Country season will kick off for seven Northern teams at the Esko Invitational. Hosted by Esko High School at Chub Lake in Carlton County, the teams invited to compete include Moose Lake/Willow River, Cloquet, Proctor, Marshall School of Duluth, Carlton, and Wrenshall. With the weather forecast in Carlton County projecting minimal winds and a nice sunny day in the mid-60s, participating runners should be very excited to get their season off to a good (and hopefully fast) start.
On the guys side, with Moose Lake scheduled to be attending this meet, the boys race has a clear favorite in Ethan Olson. Olson took 5th in the state last season for Class A, running a very fast time of 16:02, and he is currently ranked third in the Coaches poll. He will definitely be a force this season. The team race on the other hand should be fairly tight, with the top teams of Moose Lake/Willow River, Esko, and Cloquet all are fairly close in talent. The virtual meet projection using 2016 PRs predicts Esko will squeaks by ML/WR 40-42, with Cloquet coming in close by at 51.
The girls individual race may be quite close as there isn't a clear favorite, but a lot of solid returners from last season who should be very close, such as Ashlee Siegle from Marshall, Lauren Cawcutt from Cloquet, and Savannah Gamst of Moose Lake. In the team competition however, look for Proctor (a State-qualifying team from last season) to perform very well. In the virtual meet, they score 36 points to with comfortably over Esko's 65.