Weather: Mid-40s, cloudy, calm
Top Individuals:Alex Luz (Fargo North, 15:33), Eli Hoeft (Hopkins, 15:43), Hudeife Mire (Willmar, 15:57),
There may not be as much top-end talent running in Willmar today, but that doesn't mean there isn't any. 12th-ranked Moorhead, an excellent team from Hopkins, and a rejuvinated Willmar squad will take on some of the best teams from the Dakotas in this Central Minnesota battle. The virtual meet puts Moorhead barely on top over Legacy and Willmar, but their advantage may be a bit bigger than that as Moorhead has looked extremely impressive this year, already with nine runners having gone 17:21 or better, including a pair of low sticks in Zach Johnson and Dawson Strom who have run 16:13 or better. Hopkins has also been running very well this year and have been noted in the Class AA honorable mentions several times, led by a stellar senior season from Eli Hoeft. Meanwhile, Willmar has been having a challenging season on the boys side, but things may be starting to come together for the Cardinals as both Hudeife Mire and Aden Aden hope to make their season debuts today. Legacy and Fargo North could also factor into the team scoring, not to mention both schools own some of the top individuals in the field. Alex Luz, the North Dakota 1600m champion and a top three finisher in the 3200m, 800m, and cross country, in particular will probably be looking for a bit of redemption after a disappointing 17th-place finish in Milaca last week. He should definitely be battling for the win, most likely against Hopkin's Hoeft. Moorhead's Johnson and Strom, as well as SRR's Sam Ringger could factor strongly into the top finishers, and the wild card is, of course, the home team's Hudeife Mire.
Top Individuals:Meghan Ford (Jamestown, 17:20), Emily Goldade (Century, 17:54), Heidi Schmitz (Willmar, 17:56), Lindsey Werner (Legacy, 18:15), Leah Hansen (Willmar, 18:34), Erin Palmer (Century, 18:35), Serena Monson (Willmar, 18:44), Jadyn Guidinger (Legacy, 18:49), Ingrid Buiceag-Arama (Sartell, 18:54)
In Willmar's last meet in Rocori, they held out three of their top runners (Heidi Schmitz, Leah Hansen, and Elsie Duininck), and still won that meet handily thanks to a season-best run from Serena Monson and the first career win from Amal Dayib (who is having a huge breakout season this year after never running better than 21:35 in the past), plus some great depth. Willmar should easily win today, and may be able to even move up from their 5th-ranked position in the polls. Amazingly, according to the virtual meet, their top competition from the state of Minnesota will be Wayzata's B, which speaks to the their amazing depth. But their biggest competition will come from outside the state in the form of two Bismarck schools, Century and Legacy. Century was the third-place finisher at last year's State Championships, a mere one point behind the two teams who finished ahead of them, and everyone from that team returned and are looking strong in 2018. Legacy, meanwhile, finished 10th in the same meet and also return most of their team. On the individual side, however, it may just be the North Dakota teams that have the upper hand. 4 of the top six PRs in the field come from Minnesota's neighbor, including projected winner Meghan Ford. Ford, also a State Champion in the 1600m, is unbeaten this year and her margins of victory have not been close. This race will be her biggest challenge yet this year, however, with fellow All State runners Emily Goldade, Lindsey Werner, and Erin Palmer. Willmar's Schmitz and Hansen will almost certainly mix it up with those girls, however, as both have already run great times this fall too. And finally, keep an eye out for Sartell's Ingrid Buiceag-Arama, who just dipped below 19 minutes in her last race in Milaca and is poised to keep improving.