We have a batch of previews for several of today's meets on a busy day of action across the state. Many class A and several class AA teams will test themselves in smaller meets or make an in-season preview of the section course they will take on later this year.
*Moved from Monday to today
Location: Whispering Pines GC, Annandale
Weather: Mid-70s, sunny
Individuals to Watch: Kade Layton (Big Lake, 16:59.6), Ben Ammermann (Litchfield, 17:06), Turner Schad (St Cloud Cathedral, 17:28.3), Isaac Herrmann (Annandale, 17:32.9), Sal Wirth (Annandale, 17:34.1)
The Skinny: With a projected four in the top ten, Annandale is the favorite at home on Tuesday. Big Lake freshman Kade Layton was the fastest PR but will need to be on his best game in a field of similar talent and more experience. If there is a team to challenge the meet hosts, St Cloud Cathedral will need their second through fifth runners to move up from PRs in the high 17 to low 18 minute range while chasing Annandale's front runners.
Individuals to watch: Emma Fashant (Annandale, 19:24.2), Olivia Kuechle (Eden Valley-Watkins-Kimball, 20:20.1), Keily Wheeler (Annandale, 20:30), Zya Lueders (EV-W-K, 20:35.8), Brookelyn Kuechle (EV-W-K, 20:38.3)
The Skinny: The girls race should be a tight one with PRs among the Eden Valley-Watkins-Kimball and Annandale teams scoring five mere seconds apart. EV-W-K has the advantage in projections based on a 58 second split giving them less points in the final two spots. Annandale junior Emma Fashant has the fastest PR and if she can get one or two teammates to move up, the home team can easily find a way to win. In the virtual meet, there is only one runner not from the two favorites among the top ten individuals so it should be a two horse race in the team scoring.
Weather: Low 70's, sun, humid
The Skinny: The field is packed with teams aiming to return to Mora in October and challenge for a section 5A title and state berth. The favorite in projections is Heritage Christian, last year's section 5A runner up but the race is wide open as several of the top individuals have yet to reach last year's PR form. Mora senior Cooper Lennox has the fastest PR (15:50) but has yet to break 17:30 this season. NW Homeschool Coop sophomore Luke Swanson, Heritage senior Travis Miller have both gone under 17 minutes so it should be interesting to see how Lennox races in a field ready to challenge the reigning section champ.
Individuals to watch: Gracie Mallak (HL-W-W, 19:01.1), Madeline Kelly (Providence Academy, 19:08.4), Lexi Duscher (Princeton, 19:20.8), Alaina Steele (Alaina Steele, 19:43.1), Brooke Baumann (HL-W-W, 19:46.1)
The Skinny: The girls race has a clear team favorite in Howard Lake-Waverly-Winsted but the individual race should be a tight one. While HL-W-W is the only team with three projected in the top ten, three athletes in the field have won a race including HL-W-W senior Gracie Mallak who has the fastest PR and won both Maple Lake and Holdingford Invites this season. Providence Academy senior Maddie Kelly and Princeton senior Lexi Duscher claimed meet wins last week at Rockford and Monticello respectively. Both Mallak and Kelly are ranked in the coaches poll. Overall, 15 entrants have a PR under 20:10 so it should be fun to see how it unfolds.
Weather: upper 70's, sunny
Individuals to watch: Mitch Johnstone (Mankato Loyola/Cleveland 16:07.5), Drew Hastings (Belle Plaine, 16:14.3), Hugo Ruiz (Tri-City, 16:28.2), Jerrett Peterson (Mankato Loyola/Cleveland, 16:32.7), Connor Hallaway (Glencoe-Silver Lake, 16:34.1)
The Skinny: The field includes a nice collection of class A ranked runners and teams aiming toward a state meet berth. Mankato Loyola/Cleveland senior Mitch Johnstone has the top PR set in his victory at his home meet in August and also went 16:20 in a runner up finish at Gerry Smith last weekend. Belle Plaine senior Drew Hastings is also ranked and appears in good form finishing 15 seconds back of Johnstone last week at the Gerry Smith. Expect the team scoring to come down to ML-C and Jordan with Loyola's top four running in the top 20 but Jordan running five across well in front of their opponent's fifth man, making every placement overall in the top 25 a key in final results.
Individuals to watch: Laura Sunnarborg (Mound-Westonka, 19:08), Grace Feder (Gibbob-Fairfax-Winthrop, 19:21.6), Hadley Stuehrenberg (Saint Peter, 19:22.8), McKenna Herrmann (Belle Plaine, 19:26.2), Basia Babcock (Jordan, 19;35.8)
The Skinny: No. 7 coaches ranked Belle Plaine is a solid favorite in the team projections with their top runner, senior McKenna Herrmann holding steady at 11 in those same rankings. Herrman has the fifth best PR in the field but is second in race results this season behind Gibbon-Fairfax-Winthrop junior Grace Feder (19:44). Mound-Westonka freshman Laura Sunnaborg is has the fastest PR in the field, 19:08, set this year at Maple Lake.
Weather: high 70's, sunny
Individuals to Watch: Samson Hagen (Plainview-Elgin-Millville, 16:47.4), Luke O'hare (Lewiston-Altura, 16:55), Baylor Hagen (P-E-M, 17:31.7) Tyler Rislov (L-A, 18:00.8), Kevin Hagstrom (Rochester Area Home, 18:09.2)
The Skinny: If Lewiston-Altura can get performances from their top five that represents something near PR effort, it appears they will take the meet with their scoring five in the top 10. Plainview-Elgin-Millville could be ready to challenge if they can get their fourth and fifth runner a bit closer and close down what could be a split of over 2 minutes. P-E-M senior Samson Hagen and L-A junior Luke O'Hare are the only runners with a PR under 17 minutes but neither has run that mark yet this year, though O'Hare did run a solid 16:27 that would convert to around 17 minutes.
Individuals to Watch: Madilyn Simon (P-E-M, 19:50.5), Madeline Perry (Rochester Area Home, 20:05.9), MollyKate Hagen (20:17.5), Sarah Baum (Rochester Area Home, 20:19.9), Nelson Malia (Dover-Eyota, 20:46.4)
The Skinny: Rochester Area Home appears the favorite with potential to place five scorers in the top 11. P-E-M wiill be close behind with projections of five in the top 15 so with any movement or PR improvement the team favorite could shift quickly. P-E-M sophomore Madilyn Simon has the only sub-20 minute PR in field but has yet to reach that mark this young season. Many athletes are still rounding into form so the finishes will be highly unpredictable in a field that is still awaiting new runners to affect the varsity team scores for the first time this year
Location: St. Croix Bluffs Regional Park, Hastings
Weather: 80°, sunny
Individuals to Watch: Padon Kinzley (St Thomas Acad, 17:05.7), Grant Dilla (Simley, 17:15.9), Magnus Herschbach (Henry Sibley, 17:17.4), Nolan Myers (Hastings, 17:22.2), Matt Krummel (Tartan, 17:23.8)
The Skinny: The team scores appear to be tight with St Thomas Academy and Mahtomedi with the deciding factor coming with STA favorite Paden Kinzley leading the field with a 17:05 PR. Kinzley recently ran a 17:17 at Faribault so he appears to be the favorite here. Mahtomedi may not have not have their top runner within 30 seconds of that post and it could be the difference as every other scoring spot is tight, though the Zephyrs do have a split under one minute which could also play a factor in the final scores.
The Skinny: The team race is tight on the girls side as well with it coming down to narrow one or two point wins the top five positions projecting Henry Sibley as the favorite. South Saint Paul junior Nicole Kelly with a PR near 19 minutes even. Only a few others in the field have broken 20 minutes but 13 have gone under 21:10 so it should be a tight race with a lot of unpredictable outcomes.