Class AA Section Preview Central

Location: Anoka High School, Anoka

Weather: low 40's, light winds, cloudy


TEAMS TO WATCH: Mounds View, Maple Grove, Osseo, Coon Rapids, Irondale, Saint Michael-Albertville
INDIVIDUALS TO WATCH: Finn Sokolowski (Mounds View, 15:59), Mackinon Mokoro (Osseo, 16:11), Will Sacay (Mounds View, 16:14), Connor Preston (Champlin Park, 16:17), Alec Nelson (Mounds View, 16:21), Elliott Mcarthur (Mounds View, 16:22), Jonathan Pattie (Centennial, 16:26), Caden Nordberg (STMA, 16:34), Tyler Anderson (Blaine, 16:40), CJ Young (Maple Grove, 16:45), Charlie Caven (Maple Grove,16:46), Felix Ongara (Irondale, 16:46)

THE SKINNY: Spending several weeks as the top-ranked team in Minnesota and fresh off a big win at the Suburban East Conference Championships, last year's Class AA runner-up and NXN qualifiers from Mounds View likely won't have much of an issue in taking home a dominating team win in Section 5AA, as all seven of their varsity runners have run 17:03 or better, and Mounds View runners occupy six of the top 11 fastest times of section runners this season. The second team to qualify may be a more interesting affair. Maple Grove enters the meet as the commanding winner of the Northwest Suburban Conference, and have at least one head-to-head win over every other State contender in the meet, but virtual meet projections favor the Mackinon Mokoro-led Osseo squad for their first State qualification since 2008. However, Coon Rapids finished ahead of Osseo by several points at the NWSC, while a virtual meet of season average times favors Irondale. In addition, 2017 and 2018 qualifier Saint Michael Albertville can't be counted out of the competition despite a number of key graduations from last year's squad.

Individually, the competition may come down to a fierce battle between Mounds View's Finn Sokolowski and Osseo's Mackinon Mokoro. Sokolowski enters the meet as the #10-ranked runner in Class AA, but he has yet to win a race this season and as of yet has thrived more as the leader of Mounds View's impressive pack as opposed to being a clear frontrunner. Mokoro on the other hand, has a true frontrunner's mentality and impressive speed as a 3rd-place finisher in the 800m at this spring's State Championships, though he has missed some time and suffered from a couple of off-days so far this season. Outside of those two, there will be a bevvy of talented runners fighting for places at the State meet. Mounds View's Will Sacay, Alec Nelson, and Elliot McArthur are all potential top-5 finishers, while this year has proved to be something of a breakout XC season from Champlin Park's Connor Preston, the runner-up finisher at the Roy Griak Maroon competition. Centennial's Jonathan Pattie and STMA's Caden Nordberg are the top sophomores in the field, while Maple Grove's CJ Young and Charlie Caven both finished in the top 8 at last year's 5AA competition. Blaine's Tyler Anderson could find himself in the mix for a State as well.


TEAMS TO WATCH: Saint Michael-Albertville, Mounds View, Maple Grove
INDIVIDUALS TO WATCH: Ali Weimer (STMA, 18:12), Katie Sigerud (STMA, 18:24), Morgan Dahl (Mounds View, 19:07), Anna Belair (STMA, 19:18), Lindsey Young (Maple Grove, 19:23), Kaelyn Nelson (Anoka, 19:25), Paige Mcaloon (STMA, 19:25), Lex Davis (Osseo, 19:27), Emilie Meyer (Totino-Grace, 19:34)

THE SKINNY: There aren't many sections in the state that have two teams who are as clear of favorites as the girls of 5AA. STMA enters the meet as the defending Class AA champions, and last year even managed to pull off a remarkable perfect score at this meet. This year, that accomplishment will be much harder to accomplish, but the 8th-ranked team in Class AA shouldn't have much of an issue taking home a dominating win. Mounds View is also a returning State Qualifier from 2018, and are in great position to make a return trip with a deep and youthful squad of seven runners (and just one senior) who have all run 20:13 or better. Mounds View and STMA are the only teams in the section who's 1-5 season best average is under 20:30 (STMA is 18:58, while MV is 19:45), so there would need to be a lot of things that go right for teams like Maple Grove, Osseo, Centennial, or Anoka to mount a serious challenge, but bigger upsets have occurred. Each team would likely need big season-best performances across the board from each of their scoring runners to have a chance, however.

Individually, the favorites are just as clear, as STMA's Ali Weimer and Katie Sigerud are the only runners in the section to have run under 19 minutes over the course of the season, but that doesn't mean there isn't a plethora of other State-qualifying and All-State talent in the competition. Mounds View's senior Morgan Dahl will hope to wrap up a stellar XC career with one more State appearance after having qualified each of the past four years. Maple Grove's Lindsey Young, however, will be trying for a bit of redemption after having an off-day at Sections in 2018 to miss State, and should be able to do so while in the midst of her best season yet. Osseo's sisters Lex and Jules Davis will both be in the mix, as will the All-State 800m runner Emilie Meyer of Totino-Grace, who has competed at the State XC meet in both 2017 and 2018. 8th Grader Kaelyn Nelson of Anoka should also be in the mix for a return trip to the State meet.

(written by Mark Rice)

Class AA Section Championships