BOYS NXR HEARTLAND CHAMPIONSHIP TEAM RECAP
Temperatures throughout the day hovered around the mid to 20's and during the boys championship race snow fell down on a field that packed up at the front only broke apart with around a kilometer left. Wind and cold provided a slightly slower result for many athletes but in the end Mounds View proved their worth as the pre-race favorites using their typical pack running mentality to win, 125-177, over runner-up surprise runner-up Stevens Point (WI).
All season the strength of Mounds View was in their tight pack running formula and it proved decisive in their first NXR title. Five Mustangs ran in the top 36 team scorers, going 13-15-30-31-36 over an incredible 14 second spilt that averaged 15:57. All of those performances were needed including a sixth runner that displaced three scoring athletes from the second and third place teams, because Stevens Point ran a terrific race in their own right. The panthers averaged a 16:04 over just a 22 second split to rebound from their disappointment at the WIAA state meet a week earlier. Overall, senior Finn Sokolowski led Mounds View in 32nd overall with a 15:50.2, his second best result of the year and 18 seconds better than his NXR time from a year ago where he was 66th overall. Stevens Point senior Jake Lepak led his team in 34th overall (14th in scoring) with a 15:51.1, a career PR when his team needed it most.
Eden Prairie, 11 points back of SPASH with 188 points, equaled the Panthers 16:04 average and led the team runners-up by 26 points through the first three scoring athletes. But a 44 second split, while good in it's own right, was not good enough on a highly competitive day to earn the second auto-qualifier for NXN. They were led by senior Jake Derouin who was 23rd overall (10th scorer) in 15:41.7, just a second off his career PR set in the MSHSL Class AA championship a week earlier.
OTHER MINNESOTA TEAM RESULTS:
BOYS NXR HEARTLAND INDIVIDUAL RACE RECAP
Pre-race evaluation showed the individual field had a stack of worthy favorites and the championship competition lived up to the billing. Through the mile 58 boys were within five seconds of the leader who went out in a controlled 5:00. By two miles the pack was still tight with 16 runners within two seconds or less of the leader who went by in 10:04. Even as athletes completed their third loop, with a kilometer to go, the outcome was wide open with ten athletes athletes within a second of the front.
As the front pack made the well-known hairpin turn with 400 meters left, a group of six created a bit of a gap and ran nearly five runners wide down the straightaway to the finish. With about 100 meters to go Chanhassen (MN) senior Nick Scheller and Saint Paul Highland Park senior Oliver Paleen gained a slight lead. Scheller gained just enough separation over the last 30 meters to hold off Paleen for his first NXR Heartland title in a new career best 15:17.8.
Paleen then led a group of five runners across the line less than a second apart, all in official times under 15:20. Paleen was second in 15:19.1 to improve his career PR set in winning the MSHSL Class AA title a week ago. Andover (KS) senior Ryan Kinnane and Pleasant Valley (IA) senior Max Murphy both ran 15:19.5 for third and fourth, new PR's by 30 and 20 seconds respectively. Wayzata (MN) senior Shuayb Hussein, who led the field through both the mile and two mile splits, was fifth in 15:19.7 as he and Eastview (MN) senior AJ Green (15:19.9) both stumbled across the line together. It was a 28 second career best for Hussein and a 12 second PR for Green who missed out on the auto NXN spot by an incredible .2 seconds.
Sioux Falls Lincoln (SD) senior Andrew Lauer (15:22.2), Dickinson (ND) junior Brady Yoder (15:22.9), Greenway/Nashwauk-Keewatin junior Geno Uhrbom (15:26.6), and Staples-Motley (MN) junior Emmet Anderson (15:27.4) rounded out the top ten respectively.
OTHER MINNESOTA TOP 50 FINISHERS:
11. Calvin Boone, St Paul Highland Park (15:28.4), 15. Max Lauerman, Minnetonka, 15:35.0, 22. Nick Oak, Buffalo, 15:41.4, 24. Gabe Smit, Prior Lake, 15:44.2, 28. Russell Gokemeijer, Edina, 15:47.6, 29. Jacob Bright, West Central Area, 15:47.6, 31. Conor Gregg Escalante, St Paul Highland Park, (15:49.9), 35. Carter Briggs, Winona, 15:51.2, 39. Alec Nelson, Mounds View, 15:52.4, Maxwell Nelson, White Bear Lake, 15:53.2, 45. Zachary Spears, Eden Prairie, 15:54.6, 49. Zach Long, Chanhassen, 15:55.9