The pinnacle of the Minnesota cross country season, the MSHSL State Cross Country Championships concluded the in-state cross country season with big wins, repeat champions, surprise performances, and much more!
Here we recap the 2023 Minnesota state cross country championships for Class A, AA, and AAA!
Class A Teams
It was a closer race than expected, but nonetheless, the Heritage Christian Academy boys prevailed and were crowned back-to-back state champions for Class A. The HCA boys narrowly beat Cotter and Betha-Hewitt, winning by 8 points over Cotter and only 15 points ahead of Bertha-Hewitt.
The HCA boys were led by star sophomore Lev Dougherty who finished 5th overall with a time of 15:57.9, but it was freshman Blake Ingelin who was the star of the day for Heritage if you ask them. Their normal fifth-runner Gavin Hansen had an off-day, and Ingelin ran over a minute better than he did at Roy Griak on the same course to score crucial points to make it back-to-back Class A titles for Heritage.
On the girl's side, it was the St. Cloud Cathedral dominating the competition as they have done all season to run away with the Class A title to the tune of 68 points, which was 57 points better than Staples-Motley. This is the third state title for St. Cloud Cathedral and the first since 2011.
The Cathedral girls were led by 3rd place finisher Ella Voit who ran a time of 18:36.2. They placed all five scorers in the top thirty scoring runners and finished with a 5K average of 19:45.
Class A Individuals
It was a couple of surprise wins in the Class A individual races with St. Johns Prep's Olivia Pauly securing the most surprising win of the day and Mounds Park Academy's Eddie Snider narrowly beating out Will Ahrens for the title.
Pauly may have won six races this season, but she saved the best for last, winning the Class A state title with a new personal best time of 18:20.5. Pauly was only in 23rd place at the mile mark with a huge pack of other girls 10 seconds behind the lead pack. By the 2-mile mark, she had moved up to first place and stuck it out until the end winning by 10 seconds over Audrey Brownell.
On the boy's side, it was Mounds Park Academy's Eddie Snider continuing his momentum throughout the season and finishing with a huge 16-second PR to win his first state title. Snider improved from 23rd at last year's meet and ran a minute better this year to come away with the title.
Snider was able to outsprint Redwood Valley's Will Ahrens to the line to beat him out by just a second. Snider sat with the lead pack all night long before sticking it out for the state title.
Class AA Teams
There was no sweating this year after only winning by two points last year for the Mankato East boys, who won the title for the second yar in a row. It was supposed to be a close race between the defending champions in Mankato East and the Class AA newcomers Perham, but it was the Mankato East boys who prevailed in a dominant effort winning by 51 points over Perham 46-97.
The Mankato East boys were again led this year by Isaiah Anderson who finished 9th last year and followed that up with a 5th place finish this year with a new PR of 15:30.9. The Mankato boys placed all five scoring runners inside the top 15 scorers and finished with a dominant 16:14 5K average.
On the girl's side, it was the Marshall girls who outran their pre-meet 4th place projection to take home their first cross country state title in school history. They comfortably won the meet by 20 points over St. Paul Highland Park and Alexandria. At every checkpoint along the way, the Marshall girls were in first place.
Marshall was led by Allyson Sample who finished 3rd overall with a time of 18:27.2 to lead the girls to a 19:20 5K scoring average with all five scorers among the top 30 scoring runners.
Class AA Individuals
In the Class AA individual race, it was Eli Hall having the breakout race of his life, and Isabelle Schmitz avenging her 2nd place finish from last year en route to her 2nd career state XC title and her 3rd state title overall. While the end results aren't indicative of a close race, both races were very close and exciting.
Hall had won five races coming into the state meet this year, but the one thing that had haunted him this season was four finishes behind the Class AA favorite going into the meet in Perham's Bjorn Anderson. Hall exercised those demons and was in first nearly every step of the way today and ended up beating Anderson by 11 seconds to win his first state title with a time of 15:13.30.
On the girl's side, it was Isabelle Schmitz coming out on top again after winning the title in 2021 and finishing as the runner-up last season. Schmitz was close with Monticello's Isabel Mahoney most of the race, before breaking away in the end and finishing with a time of 17:56.5, winning by 16 seconds.
Class AAA Teams
It was the Wayzata show at the state championships once again with both the Wayzata boys and girls team dominating the competition to the tune of 63 points for the boys and 48 points for the girls. For the boys this was their third straight state title and their 13th overall. For the girls, it makes it back-to-back years as the Class AA champions and their 6th title overall.
The Wayzata girls overcame some obstacles en route to this state title, but it always seemed inevitable they would come out on top. They graduated three runners from last year's state championship team and then lost star runner Maddie Gullickson this season. Still, they overcame and won the state title by 74 points.
The Wayzata girls were led by 3rd place finisher and rising star Jazleen Malherek-Osorio and put all five scoring runners inside the top 30 finishers overall, and all five in the top 20 of the team finishers. They put up a team average of 18:46.
The boys were not quite as dominant as the girls, but still won easily over the Minnetonka boys 63-101. The Wayzata boys are still the only boys team in Minnesota to win a Class AAA state title after the state changed to three classes in 2021.
The Wayzata boys were led by 3rd place finisher Will Weber who ran a time of 15:21, finishing as the top team scorer at the meet. They put their top four finishers in the top 25 runners overall and had their fifth runner finish as the 36th scorer to complete the title repeat. They finished with a 15:45 5K average for their top five finishers, which is the best average in Minnesota.
Class AAA Individuals
One dominant victory and a race to the finish highlighted the Class AAA individual races this year, as two new champions were crowned. On the boy's side, it was Robert Mechura outlasting Sam Scott to the finish line and on the girl's side it was a dominant victory for Norah Hushagen.
Hushagen ran away with the girl's title, finishing with a time of 17:27.6, to win by 33 seconds over Mia Hoffmann. Hushagen ran the 4th fastest state meet 5K time in state history, only behind Abbey Nechanicky, Emily Covert, and Grace Ping. This is Hushagen's first state title.
On the boy's side, it was a closer race with Mechura beating Scott by just 3 seconds in one of the best races at the state meet that we can remember. Mechura ran one of the fastest times in state meet history running a new PR of 15:04.20. From the beginning of the season until now, Mechura only lost once at the Roy Griak Invitational.