Wayzata Battles North Dakota's Finest At The Willmar Invitational

Following a big weekend of racing, many Minnesota teams are looking to keep the ball rolling with the post-season just around the corner. With weather looking to be in the high 50's to low 60's, quick races seem to be the forecast; especially at none other than Willmar Invitational hosted by Jerry Popp and Willmar High School. Set on the Eagle Creek Golf Course, a beautiful site between Swan Lake and Willmar Lake, the Willmar Invitational is one of the best spectating courses in Minnesota, and competition will not be lacking.

Rolling Schedule (starting at 1:00):
Varsity Girls (5000 Meters)
Varsity Boys (5000 Meters)
JV Girls (5000 Meters)
JV Boys (5000 Meters)
Middle School Girls (3000 Meters)
Middle School Boys (3000 Meters)
Mity Mites (800 Meters) (Elementary students)

In the men's race, Khalid Hussein seems to be the favorite. He placed the highest in this meet last year, and will look to take the win. His teammate Grant Price, from powerhouse Wayzata will be looking to be right there with him. However, things did not work out quite like that at Griak last week, as Hussein finished in the top 10 while teammate Price seemed to have an off day placing sixth on his own team. Look for both of them to bounce right back. If they seem to be off, expect Beau Brannan of Legacy,  Alex Luz of Fargo North and Evan Sayler from Century High School to be in contention. They also deserve to be in the conversation for the title as they are having a spectacular season thus far, having each run under 16 minutes. Hopkins' junior Eli Hoeft is coming off a great Milaca race, and Jordan's Owen Keiser will represent the best of Class A in the race, through the depth of the other teams in the field could push him out of the top ten.

As for the team battle, Wayzata will be the clear favorite. Coming fresh off their second place finish at Griak and their consistent top 10 national rankings, there is no question who is first on paper. In the fight following Wayzata, expect our friends from the West to be there, including Bismarck Legacy High School, Bismarck Century High School, and Fargo North High School. Look for lowsticks Brannan, Sayler and Luz to be the difference maker in team scores for the respective teams.

On the women's side, Emily Goldade of Century High School will be vying for the win, as she has run the best time in the field at 17:54. Natalee Sample of Marshall, Legacy's Lindsey Werner, and Wayzata's attached-at-the-hip pair Emma Atkinson and Caroline Sassan all will be looking challenge her. All these ladies have had very good seasons so far, and anything could happen when they step onto the course. The second tier in this race could rival the top tier of virtually any other meet in Minnesota this year, so while Legacy's Jaydn Guidinger, Century's Erin Palmer, Fargo North's Anna Lien, Willmar's Heidi Schmitzand a whole host of Wayzata girls may not be in real contention for the win, they will certainly compete well and probably run impressive times. With not one senior expected to be in the top 15, this upcoming class of underclassman will be the top of Minnesota for years to come.

Looking into the team race, the newly-christened top-ranked Wayzata squad is again expected to take the win. However, with no true low stick and the right conditions, many teams could be nipping right at their heels. As we look at second and third, three very good teams in Marshall High School, Willmar High School, and Century High School will all be in the hunt as those three teams are separated by only 15 points in the virtual meet. If Willmar's fourth and fifth runners have a good day, look for them to take that second position.