PREVIEW: Holdingford Invitational

Located directly on their campus, Holdingford High School will be hosting their Holdingford Invitational this afternoon. Taking place northwest of St. Cloud, the meet will feature various teams from around the area. Last year, no boy broke 17 and no girl broke 20 so the course doesn't appear to be very fast. However, this year's competition looks to be more talented than in 2016. It will also be on the warmer side, as the temperature is expected to hover near 70ºF with only partial cloud coverage for the race. The top 12 runners in each varsity race will also earn a water bottle, every runner's best friend.

In the boys race, a new team will be the favorite on both the team and individual side. The St. Cloud Cathedral boys didn't attend this meet in 2016, but will undoubtedly make a big splash. Their top runner, Joel Ebel, is the only one in the field who broke 17 minutes over 5k in the 2016 season. However, Luke Ryan of the host school Holdingford actually placed higher at State than Ebel last year, so he'll be at the front as well. Jake Andres of Pierz will also be in the running, and impressed last week with a win at the Milaca Early Bird Invitational. And don't sleep on New London-Spicer teammates Ander Arnold and Tristan Thompson. In the team standings, St. Cloud Cathedral projects to take the W with 50 points in the virtual meet, over New London-Spicer's 74 and Holdingford's 93. However, New London-Spicer's runners are projected to go 4-5-14-16-35, so if the 5th man runs well, they could pull an upset. And perhaps the advantage of running at home could propel Holdingford to surprise.

Last year's Holdingford Invitational was won in a time of 20:23, but the girls attending this year have a good chance to crush that time. Kristine Kalthoff of Albany earned All-State honors a year ago, and was received votes in the most recent coaches' rankings. Though she took 2nd here a year ago, the girl who beat her is also back, and Kate O'Brien of Sauk Centre will look to defend her title. Kristine's teammate Grace Rieland, Augustus Demarais of Maple Lake (who took 3rd here last year), and the Carringtons of Morris (Maddie and Meredith) have also all broken 20 minutes, so they should also be in the running for the victory. Of the mentioned athletes, if it comes down to the wire, put your money on Maddie Carrington. She has qualified to the State track meet in the 800m twice in her career, including a 7th place finish this past spring. In the team fight, Albany's 1-2 punch of Kalthoff and Rieland is expected to lead them to the team win in the virtual meet, scoring 45 points over Maple Lake's 65 and Morris/Chokio-Alberta's's 78. If Maple Lake's 3-5 runners have strong days, or the Carringtons from Morris lead their team to fast times, they could unseat Albany.