One of many meets this Thursday is the Perham Yellowjacket CC Harrier Classic. Hosted at Arvig Park a few blocks from Perham High School, this meet brings together many talented northern and Western Minnesota schools. The flat and fast course has been the site for a lot of quick times and PRs, including Keeghan Hurley's performance of 15:28 in 2013, and with high-50's temperatures and virtually no wind expected for tomorrow, this race could see many athletes taking advantage of favorable conditions.
We are in for a treat in the individual battle for the boys. Joining the Minnesota team this year will be four Fargo-based teams. Alex Luz of Fargo North comes in with a blistering 15:33 PR from the Bill Jansen Blue-White Invitational in September. While that course also produced many similarly impressive PRs from most competetors (perhaps calling its validity into question?), if he was to replicate this on Thursday we would expect him to run away with this race. From Fargo South, Hussein Muqsuin has run consistent mid-16 minute times this year and could challenge Luz for the win. Luz's teammate Caleb Yokom ran a 16:25 at the Bill Jansen Invite, but on average has been in the 17-minute range. Don't count out the boys from Minnesota though! Jacob Bright' of West Central Area has a PR of 16:08 from last year, however based on this season's average performances we have quite a few athletes who will be looking for a spot in the top ten. Hunter Gowin of Breckenridge will be looking to challenge Bright and bring his PR down to the 16:30 mark. The three boys from Perham, Carson Speicher, Clayton Anderson, and Brandon Ohara have been fairly close together all season and will be looking for the individual win on their home course. Similar to Perham, Moorhead brings a tight top three in Dawson Strom, Zach Johnson, and Austin Gruenberg who have all ran in the upper 16-minute range this year. Soren Dybing of Bemidji has been dropping significant time each race and could continue this trend come Thursday. And Noah Ross of Wadena-Deer Creek ran close to a one-minute PR last week, so he could be in the mix for a top spot as well.
The team battle will be fascinating on the boys' side. The Perham squad is likely Minnesota's top team in this meet. Ranked first in the Class A coaches' polls for the majority of this season, they will be looking for team honors as well as individual honors. Don't count out the boys from Moorhead to give them a run for their money and put in a claim for a spot in the coaches' rankings. North Dakota puts teams in the top two spots in our virtual meet with Fargo North taking the win, closely followed by West Fargo whose team boasts a very small spread between runners one and five. Wadena, Bemidji and West Central are some ways back from these four based on season bests, but will look to challenge each other for the next few spots.
Anything could happen in the girls race. When researching the competition we could two vastly different outcomes depending on whether we use people's average time this year, or their fastest times. Don't hold us to any of this, but we'll try our best! The sophomore from Lakeville South, Brianne Brewster (ranked 7th in class AA) ran an impressive 18:40 this season at St. Olaf, putting her as our favorite for the individual win. A quartet of girls from North Dakota will likely be with the front pack as well. Anna Lien of Fargo North, only an eighth grader, has the second fastest time in the field, however it is a bit of an outlier from her average performance this year. Hope Pringle, Caleigh Anderson, and Clara Boldingh will try and take some top spots for West Fargo. Representing Minnesota's Class A powers, Lexi Bright of West Central, Caitlin Covington of Perham, and Ellie Morgan of Frazee have all run similar times this season. This could offer us a glimpse of who will be competing for the coveted top ten places at State. Abby Tweeton, also of Perham, and Riley Polomy from Moorhead will look to round out our top five. The list of girls who could be in the top ten seems almost endless. Sadie Hamrin of Bemidji, Patty Jo English and Cassie Jenny of Lakeville South, as well as eighth grader Lily Peterson from Lake Park-Audubon could crash the party at the front of this race!
In the team battle, if the West Fargo girls run close to their PRs they will win this meet handily. However, if they run closer to their averages the win will also be contested between the Class A Perham team and Class AA team Lakeville South. Moorhead will pose the biggest threat beyond those two, and look to stake their claim as one of the dark horse AA teams this season. Bemidji and West Central will most likely battle it out for the next few spots.