Minnesota's Best Head to Heartland- Our NXR Preview


The individual boys race should be wide open with a big group vying for the individual title and the five individual berths into the NXN field on December 7. The top returning athlete from a year ago is Germantown (WI) senior Ben Schnoor who finished 10th in 15:27. He has already run 15:21 this season but was bettered by a number of runners in the WIAA D1 state meet who will also be in the field on Sunday. The runners who bettered Schnoor include Slinger (WI) junior Cael Grotenhuis who was D1 runner-up after running 96th at NXR last year. Oconomowoc (WI) senior Alexander Vance was one spot ahead of Schnoor in the Wisconsin D1 race but has also run 15:28 this season and ran 32nd at NXR last season.

Among the overall favorites and the leading contender from Minnesota is Saint Paul Highland Park senior Oliver Paleen, fresh off his 15:25 Class AA state title winning performance a week ago. He was undefeated all season including winning the Griak Gold title where he defeated all the top expected Minnesota entries in this year's NXR field and is 25 seconds better than his 39th place finishing time from last season. Paleen pulled away from Chanhassen senior Nick Scheller and Eastview senior AJ Green in the last half mile to win his state title. Both will be in the field Sunday. Scheller was only bettered by three Minnesota runners all season, Paleen and two others he defeated head to head on his way to a second place finish at state last week where he ran a 15:30 PR. He is also the second best returner from a year ago when he was 14th. Green made a strong run at state running a 15:31 for third place and could fare better on a flat fast track at Yankton Park but was outkicked by Scheller in the final 200 meters at the state championship meet despite his known 800m excellence. 

Other Minnesota names in contention include Greenway/Nashwauk-Keewatin junior Geno Uhrbom who ran all by himself to a 15:27 defending his class A title, the second fastest time of the day avenging a loss to Staples-Motley junior Emmet Anderson at the Griak Gold race earlier in the year. Anderson has the fastest PR in the field at 15:09 ran on a flat fast course similar to the one he'll face at NXR but with a much better field of competitors. 

Dickinson (ND) junior Brady Yoder has run under 15:25 twice this season and was 16th a year ago making him a potential favorite to win or take an individual ticket to Portland. He won the North Dakota class A title in 15:20 two weeks ago with a 12 second margin. Sioux Falls Lincoln (SD) senior Andrew Lauer is a very capable racer having beat both Uhrbom and Schnoor in the Griak gold race, finishing nine seconds behind Anderson and ten seconds behind Paleen. He dominated the South Dakota Class AA meet winning by 16 seconds in 15:42 two weeks ago. Pleasant Valley (IA) senior Max Murphy was seventh in the Griak Gold race and won the IHSAA 4A title by a lean at the line over Dowling Catholic senior Sam Hall. He averaged a 15:49 over seven 5k races this season including a 15:26 PR. Hall was ninth at Griak and ran under 16 minutes three times this season including a 15:29 in his runner-up 4A state meet effort.

OTHER INDIVIDUAL NAMES TO KNOW: Ryan Winger (Dubuque Hempsted), Jack Pendergast (Prairie, IA), Jacob Green (Cedar Rapids Kennedy), Nate Mueller (A-D-M, WI), Jake Derouin (Eden Prairie), Jacob Bright (West Central Area), Liem Chot (Lincoln North Star), Tyler Boyle (Lincoln Southwest), Sean Korsmo (Bismarck, ND), Jacob Knodle (West Fargo Sheyenne), Gavin Kuhlenbeck (Sussex Hamilton, WI), Joshua Truchon (West Allis Hale, WI), Nicholas Holmes (Nicolet, WI), Lucas Florsheim (Shorewood, WI), Nolan RIchey (Kimberly, WI), Jack Scherer (Oshkosh North)