1. Who’s the new girl?
First-place medals from the past seven Class 2A girls’ cross-country state championships reside in just two households. Maria Hauger of Shakopee won a record four consecutive times from 2009-12, followed by the Hasz twins of Alexandria, Bethany (2013 and 2015) and Megan (2014).
A new champion will emerge in November at St. Olaf in Northfield, likely from a group of six returning runners who placed in the top 10 at state last fall. Claire Boersma, a senior at Marshall, took third. She faces tough competition on the 5,000-meter course from Farmington teammates Lauren Peterson and Anna Fenske, Minnetonka junior Sophie Whicher, and sophomores Emily Covert of Minneapolis Washburn and Maria Rickman of Edina.
Peterson placed third in the state track and field 1,600-meter race behind the Hasz twins last spring. Whicher placed fourth in the 3,200, one spot ahead of Covert.
The Class 1A title race will produce a new winner as well with the departure of Grace Ping, who moved to Utah. Ping, as a seventh-grader running for Winona Cotter last school year, won the state title by 50 seconds and later swept the 1,600 and 3,200 track and field crowns.
2. A second monster section
Class 2A, Section 6, known in cross-country circles as “the section of death” for its annual wealth of talented boys’ teams, has a challenger for the nickname this fall.
Three teams from Section 5 — Centennial (No. 3), Mounds View (No. 8) and Maple Grove (No. 9) — earned spots in the preseason coaches poll. Only two teams from each section advance to the state meet.
Section 6 remains a beast. Wayzata earned top honors in the coaches poll, one spot ahead of Edina. Defending state champion Hopkins got the No. 6 spot.
On the girls’ side, Section 6 has no peer. Defending champion Edina leads the way, followed by No. 3 Wayzata, No. 9 Eden Prairie and No. 10 Minnetonka. No other section is represented by more than two teams.
3. Tight pack at the top
Just six seconds separated a quartet of juniors in spots five through eight at the Class 2A boys’ state meet last fall: Patrick Roos, Edina; Seth Eliason, Hopkins; Alex Miley, Maple Grove; and Innocent Murwanashyaka, St. Paul Como Park. They started in the same order this season in the coaches poll, only this time, they were the top four runners.
David La Vaque