Every year, lasting memories are made for the thousands-upon-thousands of people that are in some way involved or connected with the participation, preparation, or evaluation of the State Championships - some remembered by virtually everyone who witnessed it, and some by only the one who noticed it. It is a fact then than we cannot say the 2016 edition of the State Championships were "more memorable" (or, for that matter, "less memorable") than any previous or future competition, but the memories that did happen will be cherished by everyone who remembers them. Memories such as a trio of seniors competing on their third consecutive championship squad, or the first-ever individual champion from one of Minnesota's most storied and successful programs. For two teams, a margin of two points was the difference between elation and disappointment, while for three other runners, less than one second after nearly sixteen minutes made the difference between first and third on the podium. That same podium also crowned two very young stars who exhibited utter domination of their older peers. Dozens of runners ran the race of their lives, while dozens more walked away wishing that they could have done more. And it was all achieved in some of the most oppressively warm weather at this event in recent memory.
Class AA Girls
Class AA Boys
Class A Girls
Class A Boys
Needless to say, this fall has already been a memorable one, just as this Saturday will certainly be memorable as well. What memories are made will be up to the athletes the coaches, the family, the officials, and all the spectators gathered on the fields just outside the Tostrud Center. We will soon have the answers to all the questions burning at the front of people's minds. Questions like, could we see a single-school sweep in both classes? And if yes, just how dominant could those schools be? Just how big a spread is too big to prevent a team from upsetting a heavy favorite? Will one runner continue her homecoming celebration, or could it be spoiled by the girl who rose up in her absence? And just how many of the returning champions, both individuals and teams can recapture the magic of yesteryear and successfully defend their titles? Will Saturday be a display of the best class of freshmen in Minnesota history? And perhaps the biggest question of all is, of all the most improbable and unlikely events that could transpire, which ones will actually happen? It will surely be a meet to remember.
It is remarkable to think about just how selective the opportunity to compete at the State Championships is. In the state of Minnesota in the fall of 2017, there were over 12,400 athletes in grades seven-through-twelve that competed in a high school 5K competition. Of that number, exactly 704 will receive the opportunity to run at St. Olaf College this coming Saturday. Out of over 600 high school squads, there will be 64 full teams at the starting line when the gun goes off. Every single runner and every single squad has already achieved something very impressive, and they will receive a chance in four days to place an exclamation point on their seasons in one way or another. Welcome to the Minnesota State High School League State Cross Country Championships!
So without further ado, read on and check out our previews for the races this upcoming Saturday!