Virtual Meet Results: Perham High School (106.5), Mounds View High School (111.5), Eden Prairie High School (124), Forest Lake Area High School (159), White Bear Lake High School (178), Bismarck Century High School (187), Stillwater High School (211)
Top Individuals: Brandon O'Hara (Perham, 15:37), Max Charlsen (Forest Lake, 15:49), Finn Sokolowski (Mounds View, 15:51), Will Sacay (Mounds View, 15:59), Bailey Evenson (Perham, 15:59), Maxwell Nelson (WBL, 16:01), Gabe Smit (Prior Lake, 16:01), Daniel Vanacker (Forest Lake, 16:02), Aidan Browne (Woodbury, 16:03), CJ Young (Maple Grove, 16:03), Isaac Maruyama (WBL, 16:03), Mackinon Mokoro (Osseo, 16:04), Mohamed Mohamud (Eden Prairie, 16:04), Charlie Caven (Maple Grove, 16:04), Isaac Hartman (Eden Prairie, 16:05), Alec Nelson (Mounds View, 16:05), Zachary Spears (Eden Prairie, 16:06), Mickies Kiros (SP Central, 16:05), Jacob Mccleary (Perham, 16:07), Ethan Vargas (Stillwater, 16:11), Austin Wald (Bismarck Century, 16:14), Connor Preston (Champlin Park, 16:17), Elliott Mcarthur (Mounds View, 16:19), Caleb Yokom (Fargo North, 16:19)
The Skinny: The deep team competition at the Milaca Mega Meet will feature six teams included from the most recent Class AA coaches poll, including the top-ranked Mounds View Mustangs. Mounds View's top squad hasn't run since their commanding victory at the St. Olaf Showcase back in August, so they should be fresh for their next big test in their attempt to return to NXN. However, their challenge this time will be tougher. Eden Prairie is coming off back-to-back wins at Hopkins and their home invitational and have looked very strong even without top runner Jake Derouin as he returns from a stress reaction. White Bear Lake not only is coming off a huge team performance at Anoka, but actually beat EP at the 2-mile Irish Invitational three weeks ago. The biggest wild card challenger of the competition is the Class A powerhouse Perham, who will be running up two divisions after some highly impressive early-season results. Perham raced to a strong third-place finish at the St. Olaf Showcase behind Mounds View, and are currently winning the virtual meet thanks to the quick times produced at the Moorhead Twlilight Meet. Stillwater also can be counted on to put up a formidable challenge in the team competition, as the Ponies come into Milaca with two solid wins at Marshfield and Faribault and over two weeks of rest since their last race. Some other teams that could find themselves in the mix are the Rangers of Forest Lake and the Patriots of Bismarck Century. Forest Lake competed against many of the teams they'll be facing off against back at the St. Olaf Showcase and finished a distant 8th, but their races since then have indicated that they are in much better shape, while North Dakota's top distance squad will easily mix it up with Minnesota's best teams thanks to a projected 31-second 1-5 split and quality depth. A few other teams such as Maple Grove, Prior Lake, Hopkins, and the top squad from Wayzata will likely also battle for places in the top ten.
Virtual Meet Results: Wayzata High School (26), Stillwater High School (89), Eden Prairie High School (123), Forest Lake Area High School (137), White Bear Lake High School (167), Mounds View High School (246), Andover High School (268)
Top Individuals: Emma Atkinson (Wayzata, 17:39), Analee Weaver (Stillwater, 17:52), Liesl Paulsen (Eden Prairie, 17:59), Abby Nechanicky (Wayzata, 18:09), Avery Braunshausen (Stillwater, 18:09), Caroline Sassan (Wayzata, 18:13), Lauren Mccollor (Wayzata, 18:32), Emelia Arnone (Wayzata, 18:32), Morgan Peterman (Stillwater, 18:37), Grace Link (Wayzata, 18:37), Lex Davis (Osseo, 18:41), Ella Bakken (Eden Prairie, 18:44), Morgan Dahl (Mounds View, 18:46), Jordan Parent (Forest Lake, 18:46), Halle Mestery (East Ridge, 18:47), Madeline Verkerke (WBL, 18:48), Ellie Hanowski (Forest Lake, 18:50), Tiffany Holiday (Woodbury, 18:52), Brooke Elfert (Stillwater, 18:56), Alyssa Gerth (Andover, 18:59), Tierney Wolfgram (Woodbury JV, 17:06)
The Skinny: For the second consecutive year, Wayzata's top girls will be lining up to run at Milaca, and they should be running at full strength for the first time this season. Even despite the strong team competition around them, the returning 3rd-place finishers at NXN and second-ranked girls team in the nation should have no problem taking home the team win. The meet should be the season debuts of both Emma Atkinson and Caroline Sassan, but while they were away, freshman Abby Nechanicky began her season in a torrid fashion with a big win at the St. Olaf Showcase that shot her up to #2 in the coaches polls, and last weekend ran 19:17 in a tempo workout at the Metro Invitational. However, as they are also running next weekend at the Roy Griak Invitational, and since they are surely building towards team success in December, if Wayzata elects to not yet race quite all out, it may be possible for them to leave a door open to Stillwater. The Ponies come into Milaca with the fourth-ranking in the coaches polls, but already have two big wins under their belts from the Irish Invitational 2 mile and the Faribault Invitational, beating multiple other ranked teams both times. Annalee Weaver in particular has continued to show her immense ability, and by virtue of those two races finds herself atop the coaches poll for Class AA girls. She will likely be the individual favorite if Emma Atkinson doesn't run quite up to her full ability, and probably the only girl that will pose a serious challenge to her if she does. Weaver will be supported by a trio of young ponies in Avery Braunhausen, Morgan Peterman, and Brooke Elfert who all have gotten off to excellent starts this year as well. But if Stillwater is to have any hope of beating Wayzata, it will have to come on the efforts of their fifth runner (projected to be Elsa Huckels) in closing the gap to the top four.
Some of the other strong contenders to finish in the top five include Eden Prairie, Forest Lake, and White Bear Lake. All three teams are coming off solid team performances in their last meets and have proven themselves to have great potential. Eden Prairie, led by longtime standout Liesl Paulsen (who took second in this race a year ago and will certainly be an individual contender for a top spot), is ranked 8th in the latest poll and is coming off a runner-up finish (to St. Paul Highland Park) at their home invitational. 11th-ranked White Bear Lake, led be another senior in Madeline Verkerke, is also coming off a runner-up finish in their last meet (to STMA) at Anoka, and have a big strength in their 37-second projected spread (which includes four runners within five seconds of each other). And then 6th-ranked Forest Lake squad is coming off a very impressive performance at the quick St. Francis Invitational last weekend that saw them achieve a 19:22 team average with a 31-second spread led by freshmen Ellie Hanowski and Jordan Parent and junior Natalie Runquist. Returning state qualifiers from Mounds View and Andover could also be in the mix for the top 5, along with Woodbury and Maple Grove. And speaking of Woodbury, in addition to a chance at a top-five finish, they will have possibly the meet's best overall runner in Tierney Wolfgram running out of the JV competition, racing against the clock in the very last race of the day to see if she can better the meet record of 17:06 she set last year.