DtB tracked down Eden Prairie coach Jeff Lindlief to ask him about his #1-ranked girls squad. The Eagles have looked powerful from the early-season on in what appears to be an especially competitive girls Class AA year. Lindlief's inexperienced boys squad, not to be out-done, scratched its way back into the State Meet with an impressive late-season push that saw them finishing second in the wicked 6AA Section.
DtB: You've looked like a favorite for the Class AA title since the Faribault Invitational. At what point this season did you know you had really good team?
Lindlief: After last spring's track season, we knew we had a strong batch of returning runners, but weren't sure what type of CC team we'd be. We never felt we really put together a solid race until Lake Conference, as we were battling some illnesses, injuries, etc. That seemed to be the first time when each girl ran relaxed and with confidence.
DtB: It looks like there's a really deep field in girls Class AA. Are there certain teams that keep you awake a night?
Lindlief: Yes, many of them! Bob Ertl has his Lakeville North team looking unbeatable (as always!). White Bear Lake, Prior Lake, and Burnsville also have very good teams. Even though we got past Minnetonka in the Section, they always run very well at the State Meet. It should be a very exciting and close race on Saturday>
DtB: What are the sorts of things that have to go right for your team in order or State to work out like you hope?
I think it really comes down to two things: First, keeping everybody healthy and injury-free. Secondly, we talk a lot about being confident in our training and racing strategy. If those two things are in place and the training has been solid during the year, all you can do is race your best.
DtB: And a question about your surprising boys team ... What's the secret to making six-straight State Meets out of the toughest Section in the state, especially with this years unheralded squad?
Lindlief: This year's boys team has been so much fun to work with. With only one of our top-7 being a varsity runner from last year, they've learned many lessons as the year has progressed. They're a prime example of why cross-country is such a great sport -- kids who might not be superstars at first can work hard and dedicate themselves to improvement and it does pay off in the end!
Look for our interview with Bill Miles, coach of the #1-ranked Wayzata boys team, on DtB tomorrow.