Minneapolis Washburn senior Emily Covert began this cross-country season in the same manner she ended last year, by running to victory at St. Olaf College.
Covert won the St. Olaf Showcase on Aug. 30 in 17 minutes, 7.9 seconds and shattered her Class 2A state meet winning time of 17:30.1. Her blistering performance on the same 5,000-meter course put the state on notice Covert remains the runner to beat this season.
Just 64 days separate the St. Olaf Showcase and the state championship meet and Coverts journey is one of several to watch. Talented returning runners in both classes and genders provide great intrigue.
Coaches voted Covert as the top female runner in Class 2A ahead of Lauren Peterson of Farmington, Emma Atkinson of Wayzata, Ali Weimer of St. Michael Albertville and Caroline Sassan of Wayzata. Other notable runners include sixth-ranked Grace Dickel of Washburn and 2016 state champion Anna Fenske of Farmington at No 10.
Atkinson and Sassan lead the No. 1-ranked Trojans, who won the St. Olaf Showcase team title and seek a second consecutive state title.
Class 1A remains a three-person race for the top spot. Two-time defending champion Tierney Wolfgram of Math and Science Academy in Woodbury returns with Winona Cotter sisters Grace and Lauren Ping in hot pursuit. Wolfgram trailed only Covert at the St. Olaf Showcase and her time of 17:28.3 was three seconds ahead of her state meet pace.
That same day, about 90 minutes southeast, Grace won the Stewartville Bill Glomski Invitational in 18:03.70 and Lauren placed second with 18:22.80. Grace won the 2015 Class 1A state title.
On the boys side, several runners boast credentials worthy for consideration as a championship contender. Rosevilles Acer Iverson placed second at the Class 2A state meet last fall, one spot ahead of Rosemounts Luke Labatte.
Edinas Max Manley, No. 1 in the most recent coaches poll, took second in the 1,600- and 3,200-meter races at the state track and field meet in June. And Washburns Caleb Haugland won the St. Olaf Showcase in 15:53.8.
Andrew Brandt and Grant Price are the top runners for two-time defending champion Wayzata.
Meets to circle
Strong field and soldi times are expected at the Lakeville North Applejack Invite on Sept. 15, the Milaca Mega Meet on Sept. 22 and the University of Minnesota Roy Griak Invitational on Sept. 29.