Today, the longest-running invitational XC meet in Minnesota will gather 68 teams from all across Minnesota at the 67th annual Swain Invitational. In terms of sheer size, the 2000-plus competitors that will gather at Duluth's Enger Park is the second-largest high school cross country competition in Minnesota, with only the Milaca Mega Meet gathering more high school runners on a yearly basis (depending on how many high schoolers compete at the Roy Griak Invitational). The meet is as legendary as the legends who have raced at it, including Olympians Kara Goucher (formerly Kara Wheeler), Hassan Meed, Steve Plascentia, and Gary Bjorkland. Split between two classes and four varsity competitions among the ten races of the day, the meet attracts some of Minnesot'a best competition, in particular from Class A, with that competition serving as something of a preview for the State Championships one month later.
Girls 7-9 10:00 a.m. (3000m)
Boys JV ""AA" 12:40 p.m. (5000m)
Boys 7-9 10:25 a.m. (3000m)
Girls Varsity "A" 1:10p.m. (5000m)
Girls JV "A" 10:50 a.m. (5000m)
Girls Varsity "AA" 1:50 p.m. (5000m)
Girls JV "AA" 11:30 a.m. (5000m)
Boys Varsity "A" 2:30 p.m. (5000m)
Boys JV "A" 12:10 p.m. (5000m)
Boys Varsity "AA" 2:55 p.m. (5000m)
The course is famous for its difficulty, as the double-loop course runs up and down a single massive hill four times over the course of 5000 meters, and soft ground in many areas adds to the difficulty. Despite impressive yearly competition, the typical boys winners have hovered around 16:00 or higher, and the fastest 4K girls time ever run on the course (prior to the race being moved up to 5K) was 14:46 for Clare Flanagan in 2012, one of only two athletes (the other being Kara Goucher) who has broken the 15-minute barrier at this meet.
The weather has always played an interesting role at Swain too, as Enger Park is known to hold onto its water for a while after it rains. 2017 will be no different, as Friday night rains will make the course wet once again, and while the mid-50's and overcast conditions will be favorable for runners, quick times will not be expected. Instead, the star of the show will be the competition, and there will be plenty of it in both classes. The boys battles in Class A will be intense and tight, as the girls battles will shed light on just how elite one of Minnesota's top XC rookies really is. In Class AA, while many of Minnesota's top teams will be running over at Alexandria today, one of Minnesota's most elite girls teams will be here, as well as three other returning state qualifiers between the boys and girls.
Read on to check out what to expect today at Minnesota's oldest continuous high school cross country invitational!