PREVIEW: Central Open

This Friday we will see some of the state's top runners and teams begin their season at St. Catherine's University, hosted by St. Paul Central. This race will be highly competitive on both the boys and girls sides. It'll be a very packed race, as teams can put up to 30 individuals each in the boys and girls 5k races. Conditions aren't looking perfect as of right now, as the forecast shows a chance of rain, and winds potentially up to 12 MPH, which could potentially slow down times.

Meet Schedule
9:00 - Coaches Meeting
9:30 - Boys 5k
10:00 - Girls 5k
10:45 - Boys 4k
11:15 - Girls 4k
12:00 - Awards

In the boys race, there will be a new champion, as last year's champion Como Park's Innocent Murwanashyaka, graduated. Murwanashyaka won with a respectable time of 16:08 last season, so that does show that this course is capable of producing some solid times early in the year. Some of the runners who will be battling it out to take home the individual title are the dynamic duo, Nick Scheller and Zach Long of Chanhassen, and Roseville's Acer Iverson, who was ranked 3rd in state in the preseason coaches poll that came out last week. All of these runners broke 16 in the 5k last season at NXR, and they will provide the crowd with a great showdown that will be worth watching.

As for the team race, Chanhassen is the clear favorite, as they were ranked 8th in the preseason poll. In a virtual meet using 5k PR's, Chanhassen wins by a comfortable margin of 22 points, with St. Paul Central coming in 2nd. Taking down the Storm will be a tough task for any team who plans to challenge them, due to the strength of their top 3 runners- Scheller, Long, and Torin Christianson.

On the girls side, we will also see a different individual champion from last year's race, as Chanhassen's Anastasia Korzenowski graduated. Brianne Brewster looks to be the favorite to take home the title this year, with a strong 18:10 5k PR she carries from last season. After her great track season last spring (5:08 1600, 11:20 3200) she has put herself in position to be one of the state's best runners, and she will be tough to beat on Friday. Other top runners in this race will be Chanhassen's Miranda Gilbertson and Meghan Pierson, Grace Johnson from Centennial, and the youngster Elizabeth Vanloon of Irondale.  All four of those athletes ran under 19:10 last season.

The team competition may not be too close, as 6th- ranked Lakeville South will come into this race as the clear favorite. The girls' virtual meet has Lakeville South winning by a dominating 37 points, over Centennial.