Weather: Partly cloudy, low 40's, light breeze
TEAMS TO WATCH: Winona (99), Rochester Century (105), Farmington (108.5), Faribault (134)
INDIVIDUALS TO WATCH: Carter Briggs (Winona, 15:41), Cody Peterson (Winona, 16:11), Metijwok Omod (Rochester John Marshall, 16:13), Noah Revels (Farmington, 16:15)
THE SKINNY: Winona, Rochester Century, and Farmington all have a chance to take the Section 1AA title. On paper, Winona has the edge over the two teams, but most recently at the Big 9 Conference Championships, Rochester Century won the title over Winona's third place. They were only separated by 7 points. At that race, Faribault was only 9 points behind Winona, coming in fourth, so they can not be completely taken out of the picture for a state qualifying position. Farmington is in a different conference, the South Suburban Conference, and finished fourth. That race showed that their fifth runner has stepped up and given them a better shot at closing the gap and grabbing a team state qualifying position.
Individually, Carter Briggs is the standout in the field. He has proven this year that he knows how to win races. He was runner-up here this year but is the top returner and will try for his first Section 1AA title. He had a standout finish at state last year, finishing 13th, so he knows how to race against a challenging field. Most recently, he won the Big 9 Conference Championships, in a close finish, only winning by 0.1 seconds. Briggs Winona teammate, Cody Peterson, finished behind him in fourth, and will be back to try to grab the second place spot and help his team to a top finish.Also fighting for a second place finish with Peterson could be Metijwok Omod of Rochester John Marshall and Noah Revels of Farmington. The three have similar season best times and it should be a close match, with Revels and Peterson fighting for important team points. Someone that may be overlooked because of having a slower personal best is Mitchell Hanson of Faribault who was sixth at that same conference race. Hanson has had a consistent season of races this year and could capitalize on that big time to help his team have a fighting chance.
TEAMS TO WATCH: Farmington (74), Lakeville South (96), Red Wing (145)
INDIVIDUALS TO WATCH: Ella Dufault (Waseca, 18:01), Anna Fenske (Farmington, 18:08), Brianne Brewster (Lakeville South, 18:19), Claire Vukovics (Lakeville North, 18:39)
THE SKINNY: The teams from Farmington and Lakeville South will likely be the two heading to the state meet. Farmington has the advantage over Lakeville South with their better fourth and fifth runners. Farmington has also had a strong season that has left them being ranked fourth in the state going into this race. They will be tough to beat but a strong performance by Lakeville South will help them be a team to talk about going into the state meet.
Anna Fenske is the individual with the most impressive resume coming into the Section 1AA race. She will be tough to beat as she has only lost two races this season, both being high level races including the Roy Griak Invitational. Those races, she still finished runner-up. Not to mention, she is currently the top ranked runner in the state. There are two more top ten ranked individuals in the field, with Brianne Brewster ranked ninth and Ella Dufault ranked seventh. Brewster was fifth at last year's state meet whereas Dufault was far behind in 33rd. However, they finished in third (Brewster) and fourth (Dufault) at the Section 1AA race last year. Interestingly, Ella Dufault has a season best just ahead of Fenske, with an 18:01 that she ran at The Big South Conference Meet where she won the title. Claire Vukovics should not be counted out as she was previously ranked in the top twelve this season. She had a tough showing at The Big South Conference Championships against Brianne Brewster and Anna Fenske where she finished fourth against Mariah Fenske who will also be in this race. Vukovics will be back to prove herself and make her way back into the rankings. The pack will be a fun one to watch as they pull each other to strong performances and shake up the state rankings.(written by Emma Benner)