1Stillwater runs deep: With all but one of its Class 2A meet runners returning, the Ponies boys' team earned the preseason No. 1 ranking. Even so, they will be running with a hunger bred from disappointment. Last year's team was rated fourth most of the season but stumbled to a seventh-place finish at state. Seventeen runners logged between 400 and 500 miles this summer, five more than a year ago.

2Monticello might: Led by sisters Erica and Amber Seidenkrantz, the Magic entered the season ranked No. 1 by coaches after finishing second at the Class 2A meet last season. Andover coach Scott Clark said a championship would rank the Magic among the best teams of all time. "Four kids under 15 [minutes] would set them apart," Clark said.

3Talent on the move: Connor Olson, who as an eighth-grader helped Maple Grove place 13th at state last year, enrolled at Wayzata this fall. His addition will help offset the five state-meet runners the defending champion Trojans lost to graduation.

4Moving on up: School reclassification by the Minnesota State High School League moved two strong Class 1A runners (Worthington's Mubarik Musa and Blake's Brandon Clark) into the 2A field. Musa, the Class 1A champion in 2009, finished third last fall, one spot ahead of Clark.

5Dave Bauer retiring: Long-time Park Center coach Dave Bauer, an active member of the coaches association hall of fame, is retiring after this season. Bauer, nearing his 70th birthday, is in his 41st season coaching various sports at Park Center, most notably track and field distance events and cross-country.