Location: Eagan High School
Weather: Mid-40s, Partly Cloudy
Top Individuals: Luke Labatte (Rosemount, 15:37), Aj Green (Eastview, 16:06), Gabe Smit (Prior Lake, 16:07), Tyler Osen (Lakeville North, 16:19), Jack Otterson (Lakeville South, 16:19), Danny Cox (Rosemount, 16:23), Payne Freske (Rosemount, 16:32), Gabriel Mahlen (Eastview, 16:32)
The Skinny: The only team in this conference that is currently ranked is the AJ Green-led squad from Eastview. However, based on the virtual meet projections, it isn't the 10th-ranked Eastview, but instead the defending champions from Rosemount that are the favorites, and they even have a fairly comfortable margin for error thanks to their top-end depth. In fact, Lakeville North is also ahead of Eastview in the virtual meet. Of course, perhaps the virtual meet is mildly misleading due to Rosemount and Lakeville North's most recent meet coming at the quick Brooktree course at the Ev Berg Invitational; when season average times are used instead of season bests, the advantage of both schools virtually disappears and Rosemount holds only a four-point edge over Eastview, and in fact Farmington pulls ahead of Lakeville North (which would match the result of their head-to-head matchup at the blazing-hot Applejack Invitational, though not the result of Farmington's own ultra-soggy Cowbell Invitational). The battle between those two schools is a very important one too, as they are two of the three teams (along with Winona) that will likely be fighting for the second State-qualifying spot in Section 1AA (assuming Red Wing has a stranglehold on first). Of course, Rosemount and Eastview is an important matchup too in Section 3AA, and Eastview actually has a win in the only head-to-head matchup of the two schools this season, but their margin was only 8 points, and that race as a month ago. As for the individual battle, it will almost certainly come down to either the defending champion and heavy favorite (Luke Labatte) and two young and talented wild cards (AJ Green and Gabe Smit). Green has already had two great battles with Labatte, but finished just behind him each time, while Smit has yet to race either runner in a full 5K yet, but has been competitive against a lot of the state's top talent.
Top Individuals: Lauren Peterson (Farmington, 18:04), Brianne Brewster (Lakeville South, 18:14), Daisy Islas (Rosemount, 18:28), Anna Fenske (Farmington, 18:44), Jayda Becker (Shakopee, 19:10), Nicole Kelly (Prior Lake, 19:19), Avery Heinz (Lakeville South, 19:20), Cassie Jenny (Lakeville South, 19:21), Mariah Fenske (Farmington, 19:23)
The Skinny: Rosemount's girls have dropped on and off the rankings at various times this year, but if their last race in Owatonna was any indication, they may have just re-entered the rankings for good. In this deep and talented conference, Rosemount has six runners in the top 14 runners even though they only have one of the top ten. Of course, having only one runner in the top nine isn't helpful when both Farmington and Lakeville South have three. Because of that fact, Rosemount is only projected to with the conference by two points over the fifth-ranked team from Farmington, and the honorable mention team from Lakeville South isn't too far behind them either. If Rosemount is going to take town the defending conference champions and the perennial powerhouse, they are going to need one of their runners from #2 to #5 to close the gap to Daisy Islas. Meanwhile, if Farmington wants to successfully defend, it will likely be on the shoulders of their trio of seventh graders, and perhaps a resurgence of senior Josie Laube who has missed most of the season with a stress fracture and just recently began competing again. As for Lakeville South, they'll just need to pick up any places they can from anywhere they can, even if it means Brianne Brewster making an upset over Lauren Peterson. Of course, that is easier said than done as Peterson has been experiencing without a doubt her best season even though she's had just one race (the Roy Griak Invitational) where she's make herself run a full effort. Anna Fenske (the defending champion) could also attempt to upset her elder teammate, as she's seen a resurgence recently after a tough start to the season. If she finds her All-American form again, she could be virtually unstoppable, even against Peterson. Most likely, those three runners will take the top three spots (just like last year), but if anyone is able to break up those three superstars, it would be the burgeoning superstardom of the state's best seventh-grader, Daisy Islas.