PREVIEW: Morris Invitational

This afternoon at 5:30, the Pomme de Terre Golf Course will be the home for Class A's biggest competition of the season thus far in the Morris Invitational, as teams representing 19 schools will be present. While no team and only two runners in this field was ranked in Minnesota's preseason polls, that doesn't diminish the fact that dozens of quality athletes and a solid handful of returning state qualifiers will make things very interesting to watch, especially from a team standpoint. The weather could also make things interesting, as the predicted 5:00 forecast of 78 and sunny today is a bit on the warm side, so athletes ought to be sure to stay well-hydrated.

The competitive forecast on the boys side, however, is a lot more murky than what they skies will be today. In MileSplit's virtual meet projections using 2016 season bests, it came down to a matter of one point betwen Lac Qui Parl Valley-Dawson Boyd (who scored 60 points) and New London Spicer (who scored 61). The two teams achieved those results in quite different ways too, as LQPVDB has a 1-5 spread of 1:58 and NLS was much tighter in 1:13 (with their top four all within 29 seconds). While LQPVDB barely comes out on top in the projection, NLS could drastically change that simply by closing the gap  between their 4 and 5 runners. On the individual side, both the the meets ranked athletes will face off in the forms of West Central Area's Jacob Bright (PR of 16:08) and LQPVDB's Keiser Freetly (PR of 16:27). But it would not be out of the question for Rocori's Brent Heinen (coming out of the lone Class AA representative in the meet) to shake things up, as he comes in with a PR of 16:34.

On the girls side though, the virtual meet projections form a clearer picture. In that race, West Central Area comes out on top with a total of 52 points, a comfortable cushion between them and the 77 points of the runners-up from Rocori. And just like the favorite in the boys race was a runner named Bright from West Central, the same is true for the girls in the form of Jacob's 8th-grade sister Lexi. Running 19:36 last year as a seventh-grader to qualify for State, Lexi could possibly complete a Bright sweep today if the projections hold. But there is no shortage of runners who could be right on her tail, as six athletes (most of whom have longer and more established resumes) come in with 2016 PRs of between 19:51 and 20:00. One of these athletes is Rocori's Jayda Woods, a 2:14 800-meter runner who was the winner of this meet last year by 45 seconds. Wood's teammate Annamarie Tomovic and Morris sisters Maddie and Meredith Carrington are in that same group, as is LQPVDB's Jordan Sterud and Redwood Valley's Lauren Karnitz. All in all, this will be a very exciting individual competition.