PREVIEW: Hayfield Invitational

This afternoon, Hayfield High School will be hosting their eponymous Hayfield Invitational at The Oaks Golf Course. The 18th edition of this meet, with plenty of talent in both races. However, the girls race will surely be the main attraction as none of the top 16 from last year's race graduated. Weather is predicted to be right around 70ºF and partly cloudy, somewhat decent conditions. Don't expect extremely fast times though, as last year's winners ran 17:11 and 19:53 for the boys and girls race, respectively. That being said, expect exciting races on both sides on Thursday.

4:10pm - National Anthem
4:15pm - Boys and Girls Junior High (~1.5 miles)
4:40pm - Girls Junior Varsity and Varsity (5K)
5:25pm - Boys Junior Varsity and Varsity (5K)

On the guys side, two boys broke 17 minutes during the 2016 season. Those two are Kaden Cameron of Waterville-Elysian-Morristown, and Alec Ille of Bloomington Prairie. While Cameron's PR of 16:41 is slightly better than Ille's best of 16:47, Ille is the highest returner to this meet. He took 3rd in 2016, just ahead of Cameron in 5th. While those two should be expected to lead, watch out for phenom George Gustafson, who ran 17:01 as just a 7th grader and could very well make a huge leap this season. Teammates Jaxon Stucky and Griffin Doughty of Plainview-Elgin-Millville have also run in the low 17s, so don't count them out either. As for teams, it appears to be a two way battle. Using 5k bests in MileSplit's virtual meet, Plainview-Elgin-Millville is expected to emerge victorious over Class AA's Kasson-Mantorville by a score of 39 to 42. Such a close margin should result in barely anything separating the two on meet day.

The girls race is set to have an even better race than the boys. While Kayla Christopherson of Austin Pacelli unfortunately will not be able to compete due to injury, there are a slew of other girls to watch out for. Courtney West, last year's Hayfield champ, is back to defend her title. She took 2nd in the Class A 3200 at State this spring (but competes in Class AA for cross country with Kasson-Mantorville), so she should be the favorite. Keep an eye out for Byron's Hannah Higgins and Pacelli's Rory Bickler as well, since they both were in the top 5 at this meet a year ago. And finally, brand new to the scene this year is ZM/KW seventh-grader Natasha Sortland, who in her first high school race dropped a 20:12, which is the second-fastest time of the 2017 season among all competetors in this meet. Fellow seventh-grader Bobbie Bruns of Blooming Prairie will also need to be watched. In the team battle, Plainview-Elgin-Millville is projected to sweep, as they take the W in the virtual meet with 76 points. Byron, Kasson-Mantorville, and Pine Island are all right behind though, with 93, 99, and 106 points respectively, so it looks like it'll be a four-way fight without a clear favorite.