PREVIEW: Wadena-Deer Creek Wolverine Invitational

This afternoon, the Wadena-Deer Creek cross country team will be hosting its Wolverine Invite. It'll showcase a few of the top athletes in Class A, along with a Class AA team that should provide ample competition to the meet. The race is set to take place at Whitetail Run Golf Course in Wadena. It's an evening race, with the first race beginning at 4:30. Despite the later start, it's predicted to be a perfect day to race, with temperatures hovering right around 60ºF and a cloudy forecast. While this course has tended to run on the slower side over the years, this weather could make this go just a bit quicker for these athletes.

On the boys side, one athlete stands out from the rest, but the margin is slim, so there will likely still be a fierce competition on the course. The favorite for the individual win is senior Hunter Zupko of Little Falls. As a junior, Zupko qualified for the Class AA State XC meet, and enters with a 5k PR of 16:23, and the All-State Nordic skier has the fastest 5k time in the field by 16 seconds. It is worth noting, however, that Zupko did not compete at Little Fall's first meet in Milaca, so it may be possible he won't run this one either. But if he does, his closest competitor will likely be Emmett Anderson of Staples-Motley. Just a freshman, he holds a PR of 16:39 and has already broken 17 minutes in the 2017 season. Daniel Wilson of Dilworth-Glynton-Felton also broke 17:00 last year and ran 17:01 in his season debut last Thursday, so he should also be in contention. Don't forget to keep an eye on sophomore David Johnston of Pelican Rapids (in spite of his unspectacular 19:50 start to the season, though his PR is 17:17), as well as Zupko's teammate Drew Peterson (who opened last week in 18:22 in Milaca). With Zupko and Peterson up front, expect Little Falls to take the team title. In MileSplit's virtual meet, they take the title with a score of 36 points, ousting Staples-Motley's 60 and the host school's 88.

In the girls race, one athlete has a 5k PR over a minute faster than the next best competitor. That runner is Kira Sweeney of Staples-Motley, who's only a freshman, yet is already ranked 6th in the state. A season ago, she took 7th at State, and she looks to have a leg up on the competition at this meet. The nearest competitor on paper is Katie George of Ottertail Central, as she's the only other athlete in the field who has broken 20 minutes in a 5k. Chloe Paulson, Tatianna Wiley, Addison Lorber, and Abby Syverson have all dipped under 20:30, so they'll also all likely be apart of the chase pack, and it might be a good idea to watch out for Osakis' Lauren Savageau, who has run the second-best time of 2017 so far among all these competetors. In the team battle, Pelican Rapids is expected to be the victorious squad, emerging ahead with 28 points in a virtual meet, in comparison to Staples-Motley's 77. Right behind, Dilworth-Glyndon-Felton is projected to be 3rd with 90 points, just slightly ahead of Otter Central's 92. It appears as though it will be an extremely tight race for best of the rest, but assuming Pelican Rapids is healthy and ready to race, it will be very difficult for anyone to beat them.