Following this weekend's craziness with Griak and Milaca, teams will head over to Elm Creek for the Osseo Invite, which will consist of mostly Northwest Suburban Conference Teams, all vying to gain some confidence as we get closer to conference and section meets. This course is most definitely capable of some very fast times. There are some minor hills through the woods, but nothing crazy. The weather forecast is looking good as of right now, with high 60s, and a little bit of wind, but only 10 MPH projected. In short, it is ideal for running.
In the boys race, this will certainly be dominated by NWSC runners. Blaine's Ben Olson is the favorite going into this race, with his 15:58 5k PR. The only runner who has a time within 40 seconds of Olson this season is Maple Grove's Blake Iverson, who finished with 16:17 at the Metro Invitational, and also has a lifetime PR of 16:02, which he ran at NXR last season. Other notable individuals include Olson's teammate, Tyler Anderson, who just ran 16:44 this weekend at Milaca, along with Robbinsdale Armstrong's Ben Aoki-Sherwood, and his 16:45 PR. Maple Grove's CJ Young is another athlete who has broken 17 this season, as he ran 16:56 at the St. Olaf Showcase.
As for the team competition, there are four clear teams that will be in contention near the front of those race, all of them being NWSC schools. Maple Grove is the favorite going into this race, winning the virtual meet with just 48 points, but only 12 more than Centennial, and 20 more than Armstrong. Blaine sits in 4th with 73 points. This race will give these teams a great idea of where they are at within the conference, with the NWSC Championships just three weeks away. All those four teams are the four biggest contenders when it comes to who will win the team competition at the conference meet.
In the girls race, there's a good chance we could have an 8th grade showdown between Irondale's Elizabeth Vanloon and White Bear Lake's Maggie Blanding. Vanloon is the defending conference champion, with a PR of 19:09, but Blanding has run 19:26 so far this season. Maple Grove's senior leader, Gabby Bolcer, has the experience, so she'll always be in contention for one of the top spots. Remarkably, seven of the eight fastest PR's going into this race are ran by 8th graders, including three from Centennial (Gracie Stoks, Lauren Swanson, and Tatum Leibke) along with two Maple Grove 8th graders (Norah Trost, Lindsey Young) so this race will provide the crowd with some of the state's best young talent.
With White Bear Lake being in the girls race, that'll give these NWSC schools a big challenge. Maple Grove is projected to win this race in the virtual meet using season PR's, but only by a slim margin of three points over the Bears. Centennial is also just 8 points back of White Bear, having 55 points. Any of three teams certainly have a very good chance at winning, so it'll come down to preparation, and racing strategy to determine this one.