Location: Pierz Golf Course, Pierz
Weather: Low 60's, mostly cloudy, chance of rain late
Top Individuals: Cooper Lennox (Mora, 16:16), Michael Miller (Maple Lake, 16:50), Nathan Williams (Mora, 16:50), Jake Andres (Pierz, 16:54), Tommy Ryan (Pine City, 16:55), Christopher Borash (Royalton, 16:57)
The Skinny: In the day's biggest action, over twenty Class A schools are gathering in Peirz as something of a warm-up for the Milaca Mega Meet later this week. Last year, Mora won a tight battle on the team front, and they look like they'll do the same thing again. Fellow Section 5A schools Heritage Christian Academy and Saint Cloud Cathedral are their closest competition in the virtual meet, although they've probably got they eyes more on Cathedral since they defeated them by one point in the season's opening meet, while Heritage hasn't yet hit the form they were in when they qualified for State last year. Class AA Brainerd will likley be in the mix too, as their depth is better than each of their three Class A rivals. Individually, the top returner is Jake Andres of the hosting Pierz team, and it would be sweet for him to take home a win on his home course as a senior. However, fifth-ranked Cooper Lennox is both the fastest and top-ranked runner in the field, and will be the one most likely to have to be chased down. He's won two of his three races this year, getting faster each time. Maple Lake's Michael Miller has three top-three finishes and a PR already this season, and will be near the front again here too, while Christopher Borash is fresh off a new PR last week. A good race from any one of those athletes could result in a ranking.
The Skinny: You have to think that Annandale, last year's third-place finishers as a team at State and top returning Class A team at this meet, would have liked to have gotten off to a stronger start than they did at the Monticello Invitational. But they made up for it with a win on their home course last week, which was also against fellow State returners Eden Valley-Watkins/Kimball. This will be their first big meet against mainly Class A competition (as well as their Section 5A rivals), so this will be the first real gauge of how good Annandale could be. Maple Lake is also off to a great start, and they will be the team most likley to take down Annandale, while Mora's tight pack also has a shot if they can finally get a few of their runners to to finish up near the front of the race. The individual battle here could be fierce, as Emma Fashant (tenth at State in Class A last year) comes in with the top time and Cheresa Bouley has been red-hot with three races of under 20 minutes already this year (but no wins). Fellow All-State runner Kristine Kalthoff will be near the front as well, plus one of Maple Lake's trio of young stars.
(written by Mark Rice)