Grains Of Thought - Returns And Resurgences

The following are some things which stood out to me and other members of the staff here at Milesplit MN. What stood out to you? Head to our discussion board and let us know!

  • Both Eden Prairie teams made waves in their first meet at Rosemount, but they'll be doing more than that after a rather eye-opening performance at the Bauman/Rovn Invitational. Neither team won, but both teams finished within ten points of the nationally-ranked Edina squads, and both teams think they have more left in the tank. Of course, stuck in Section 6AA, the boys have not been to State since 2011, and the girls since 2013, despite having teams ranked in the coaches poll nearly every year. Will they break through this year? 
  • By this point, everyone ought to know that the Saint Michael-Albertville and Willmar girls are excellent. Both teams reinforced that belief last week with wins in Monticello and the Nike Heartland Pre-Regional (and Willmar was also third at the Bauman/Rovn). But also, both teams haven't yet seen expected contributions from two of their key seniors. Annalise Davis of STMA had her best track season ever last spring with two All-State runs, but has been the 5th and 6th runner on her own team in their two meets this year. For Willmar, Serena Monson has been Willmar's 5th runner in all three of their meets after having been on all three of their NXN squads (and was their top runner in 2014) and owns a PR of 18:30. Once both of these runners start getting back to the times and placements they've been used to, they'll be even more formidable.
  • If there is one thing which I feel the weekly coaches polls may have missed on prior to the beginning of the season, it is the (unintentional) discounting of an athlete's track achievements in light of what they did the previous cross country season. Certainly Max Gifford of Minnehaha Academy falls in this category, as he finished the track season All-State in both the 800m and 1600m after having a shortened XC season (all the while still qualifying for State and getting 46th). Gifford is, of course, off to an impressive start of the season and had both a win and a runner-up finish this past week. But hopefully the polls will correct an (in my humble opinion) blatant ommission on the girls side this week. All-State in 2016, Crookston's Katherine Geist fell back to 51st-place last year and only broke 20 minutes once during the season. But she really broke out in track with top-7 runs in both the 3200m and 1600m last spring, and is off to an absolutely torrid start with two dominating wins in times of 19:24 and 18:45. 
  • Now after three races with second, fifth, and ninth-place finishes, is there any reason to worry about Anna Fenske? Well, for context, consider that Fenske also had a relatively slow start to last year when she ended up in the top ten at NXN. Then consider she didn't have a full summer of training due to injury. Then consider that, as a sophomore, she's likely experiencing some temporary side effects of her maturation which will ultimately help her grow into a better runner than ever before. So, no, I don't think there is any reason to be worried.
  • Madeline Kelly is back! And she may even be better than ever, too. In her first cross country race in nearly two years, she opened in a time of 19:42 and helped the Providence Academy girls to an impressive win in Rockford. And with Kelly back in the fold, Providence's team suddenly looks very formidable
  • Another great athlete making a great comeback? How about Edina's Morgan Richter? The Class A 3200m champion as a seventh grader (competing for Breck), and owner of PRs of 5:02, 10:38, and 18:09, Richter has had a long string of injury bad luck dating back to her freshman track season. Injured midseason that year and missing the rest of the season, she dealt with lingering issues through the following cross country season before ultimately sitting out the Nordic season to heal. Optimistic about her health heading into last track season, her injuries recurred and once again cut her season short. But after a long summer of great and careful training, Richter finally appears to be back and healthy, running 18:49 in her season debut at the Bauman/Rovn and finishing 4th overall, and as Edina's top runner, after having led for most of the race.
  • Tenley Nelson dropped a performance of 18:35 for the second consecutive week (and on a tougher course), only this time instead of finishing 18 seconds behind #4-ranked Morgan Gehl, she was 75 seconds ahead of her runner up teammate Regan Feit. Last week I had asked the question if Gehl was ready to force herself into the conversation with Class A's star trio. Now it looks like Nelson might be forcing herself into the same conversation. 
  • East Grand Forks was expected to be in a tight battle with Ada-Borup/NCW at Sections last year for the second spot. Instead, they would fall to a distant fourth and several inches of snow fell on their goals. But if the Roseau meet is any indication, EGF (who returns their top five runners) are back and better than ever. Their top four of Cole Nowacki, Tyson Mahar, Sakariye Ismail, and Jonathan Krueger all ran 17:23 or better and all PRed. They still have a gap to their fifth runner Dawson McDonald, but the freshman is off to a much stronger start than last year and could really improve. So, don't be surprised if they finish a solid section in their section behind Perham.
  • Speaking of Perham, well, their boys may be even better than we thought. At the Moorhead Dragon Twilight, their boys put their top four runners between 16:02 and 16:35, and their 5th was 17:04. That's not good just for Class A, that's competitive with some of the best in Class AA (as if their 8th-place finish at St. Olaf, just 16 points out of 5th, wasn't enough evidence for that fact). Of course, with MoorheadBemidji, and West Central Area also having fantastic runs on the same course, which is a 2.5-lap race on flat soccer fields much akin to Yankton Trail Park (which hosts the Nike Heartland Regional), the question does arise on how much the course and weather had to do with those performances. Then again, if the conditions were so helpful, how come none of the other three races (both college races and girls varsity) run that day saw similar types of impressive times? And what about the fact that Perham's coaches actually measured the course to be about 20 meters long? I think those performances are totally legitimate.
  • Mickies Kiros had a fantastic race in Hastings last week, and thinks he can compete with Acer Iverson... or at least, that is his goal.