It's only July 8, but apparently it's not too early for the upcoming season's first high school cross country rankings. Dave Emmans, the man in charge of rankings for the large school girls, actually tabulated the rankings listed below back in June, based on last year's Section and State Meet performances.
"I take out all seniors, move up all retuning runners, then add times behind the last returner to fill out the top seven," Emmans, the girls' coach at Wayzata, explained to DtB. "I don’t take into account track performances because we don’t know who is making the switch from another sport for sure. I score all top seven to account for team depth, but don’t take into account JV strength. Times are averaged from the section meet races using the state meet course as the constant."
Here's how the top teams in Girls' Class AA stack up according to Emmans (the notes on each team are his as well) ...
1. Eden Prairie - They return 6 out of seven runners that scored an outstanding 48 points at the state meet and went on to finish 11th at the Nike national meet. Even without state champion Opitz, they return all-state runners Laura Lawton (11), 6th, Alex Rudin (11), 10th, and Megan Platner (11) 12th.
2. Coon Rapids - They return their top 5 runners that won section 5AA and finished 7th at the state meet. Allstate runner Kayla Johnson (12) leads the way with a 20th place finish at the state meet.
3. Elk River - The Elks become a team to beat with the eligibility of Abbi Aspengren (11), 11:17 3200 meter in track. Add senior Emma Bates 7th place finish at last years state meet, and you have one of the best 1-2 punches around. 6 out of seven return from the 3rd place finishers in 7AA.
4. Grand Rapids - Extremely young team last year that finished 9th at the state meet. Top finisher was 36th at the state meet, Kala Erickson (12), All seven are back and you often will see significant improvement from 7th an 8th graders.
5. Winona - They finished 13th at the state meet last year, but have all seven returning. Add to that the runner-up in state, Claire Guidinger (12), and you have a chance to be very good. 2nd to Lakeville North in 1AA last year.
6. Lakeville North - Traditional power-house that gets hit with graduation this year. Finishing 2nd last year at the state meet, they lose 4 out of their top seven, but return Taylor Perkins (9), 31st at the state meet. The Bob Ertl gang always reloads and they should be solid again next year.
7. Wayzata - Finishing 3rd last year in 6AA, they return all seven runners. Seniors Robyn Zeidler and Maddie Lambert lead the way as individual qualifiers for the state meet last year.
8. Chaska - Six out of seven return for a team that looks to rebound from a disappointing last place finish at last years state meet. Interestingly, Chaska will be splitting into two schools this year, the other being Chanhassen. According to Dr Stallman, all his key runners are staying put at Chaska.
9. Centennial - Another solid squad that returns 6 of 7. They finished 12th last year at the state meet, but lose their top runner to graduation.
10. Moorhead - They finished 5th last year at the state meet but drop this fall in the poll due to losing 3 of 7 to graduation.
11. Waseca - Notoriously slow starting team, they return all seven runners. Led by all-state runner Hannah McGrath (11), 22nd at the state meet.
12. Shakopee - This team drops in the poll due to depth, but up front they are very good with a 6th place finish last year. Emerging talent Maria Hauger (9) finished 9th at the state meet and leads a very young group up front. Although they are at 12th in the pre-season poll, they could easily be a podium team by the end of the year.
13. Mankato East - Very solid top 6th that finished 4th last year in 2AA. State meet qualifier Amanda Blain (12), leads the way.
14. Hopkins - This is a very scary team with the Janis Klecker daughters set to join the team this fall. This team, if everyone is healthy , can easily be a top 10 team.
15. Eastview - Led by Anne Ferguson (11), this team finished 14th at last years state meet. Depth is an issue, but they have the talent to make it back.
16. Prior Lake - Another team that you could argue that is ranked to low. Edged Eastview for the 3AA crown last year and finished 10th at the state meet. Led by Taylor Scholl (10), 33rd at the state meet, this group will be good next fall.
17. Andover - Did you know how Andover got its name? In the 1800’s there was a huge train wreck, witnesses said that the train went over and over and over. Led by Madeline McKeefry (8), 41st at the state meet. No train wreck here with 6 of 7 returning.
18. Rosemount - Coach Harder getting a little love with his girls squad this year with 6 of 7 returning.
19. Woodbury - They drop to 19 after a 3rd place finish last year due to losing 3 of their top 5 to graduation. They do return all-state runner Laura Domski (11), 19th at the state meet, but have a lot of shoes to fill after her.
20. New Prague - 3rd place squad in 3AA, they return enough to make it to state. You always have a good chance when you have an all-state runner, Molly Wick (10), 18th at the state meet.
Best of the rest ...
Monticello - Led by the Seidenkranz sisters, I have a feeling you will here from this team next fall ... Lakeville South - Just edged by Winona last year, some feel this is a top 12 team ... Stillwater - Always has great individuals, Caitlin Hewes (11), 4th at the state meet ... Minnetonka - I know, I know, sacrilegious, not having the perennial top 5 team in state not ranked. Knowing Coach Jane Reimer-Morgan we haven’t heard the last of the Skippers.