The Ole Olmstead Invitational hosted by Lewiston-Altura/Rushford-Peterson (LARP) takes place this afternoon at the Lewistown Country Club. This meet has a knack for attracting top talent such as 2015 cross country champion Zach Emery, and Ian Torchia (now nordic skiing for Northern Michigan University) who has competed for the US nordic ski team. Fair weather could see some quick times run if the courses dry up from this week's rain.
On the boys race we have a clear favorite in senior Matt Steiger of La Crescent. Steiger did not race here last year, and the individual honors went to his graduated teammate, Zach Emery, although he did win the meet two years ago. The State runner-up in cross country last year has started his season in fine form. He has soloed sub-sixteen minute efforts in all of three of his 5k races this year and we expect this trend to continue. With the favorable conditions in store for Thursday, Steiger could have his opportunity for a sub-15:50 effort. Statistically speaking, Isaiah Scruggs from Stewartville High School has the next closest season best, with an impressive PR at the Lake City Invite. Clustered around the 17-minute mark are Axel Daood of Saint Charles, Samson Hagen from Plainview-Elgin-Millville, and Thomas Lechnir of La Crescent who will all contest the top five spots. Regarding the team battle, there will be two ranked teams squaring off here with #7 La Crescent looking to hold of #10 ranked P-E-M for the win. Third place is where the real battle will take place with two teams vying for the last spot on the podium. Saint Charles, led by Daood, will look to hold off Byron's squad headed by Aren Jorgensen.
For the girls, two ranked runners, Abby Orvis and her teammate from Stewartville, Kailee Malone will push each other for the win here (assuming they make the quick turnaround from their race on Tuesday). Orvis is ranked 7th and Malone is ranked 6th in the most recent coaches poll, so it will make for an interesting race at the front. Chasing them will by Kayla Christopherson of Austin Pacelli. Christopherson has two top ten finishes under her belt in the previous two state cross country championships and won this meet in 2015. Although the front three runners seem fairly set in stone, the battle for the top-ten will be tight. With numerous runners hoping to use, what promises to be favorable conditions, in order to break the 20-minute barrier we could see a wide range of names looking to seal a spot in the top ten. Amongst these are Rory Bickler (Austin Pacelli), Laury Pedelty (Stewartville), Kaylee Arndt (Lanesboro/Fillmore Central), and eighth grader Madilyn Simon (P-E-M). On the team side, the impressive girls team from Stewartville is expected to run away with this one (again, assuming the whole team makes the quick turnaround from Tuesday). The number-one ranked Class A team could put all five of their scorers in the top 15. Dover-Eyota will likely be the closest behind and Rochester Lourdes will compete with Lanesboro for the third-place finish.