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Perham boys, Adrian girls hope to defend Class A state cross country titles

Two team champions return this Saturday, Nov. 5, when the Minnesota State High School League's 2011 State Girls' and Boys' Cross Country Running Meet is conducted at St. Olaf College in Northfield. The Perham boys and Adrian girls are both in the hunt for their second consecutive titles in Class A.

Three individual champions also return in search of more gold. Junior Marisa Shady of Esko claimed top honors in the Class A girls' race last year, and junior Maria Hauger of Shakopee has won the past two years in Class AA. Senior Mubarik Musa of Worthington is the only male champion to return; he took the Class A crown in 2009 and will be competing in Class AA this year.

The girls run a 4,000-meter course. The boys run a 5,000-meter course.

Class A Boys Highlights

The Yellowjackets of Perham return to defend their 2010 title. They have five runners with previous state meet experience. Eight other teams also return from last year's field: Plainview-Elgin-Millville, Waseca, Redwood Valley of Redwood Falls, Minnehaha Academy of Minneapolis, St. Cloud Cathedral, Mora, Albany, and Crosby-Ironton. The other teams qualified this year are Cotter of Winona, Martin County West of Sherburn, Luverne, The Blake School of Minneapolis, Otter Tail Central (a co-op between Henning, Battle Lake, and Underwood), Mesabi East of Aurora, and Dilworth-Glyndon-Felton.

Senior Brandon Clark of The Blake School is the highest returning individual medal-winner; he placed fourth in 2010. Two other Top 10 finishers also return: junior Johnathan Surber of St, James, fifth; and senior Bryon Schuldt of Nevis, sixth.

Class A Girls Highlights

Ten of last year's 16 teams are back. The Adrian Dragons, who are the defending champions, return with five runners back from their 2010 team. Other teams that are returning are La Crescent, Waseca, The Blake School of Minneapolis, St. Cloud Cathedral, Annandale, Albany, Esko, Park Rapids Area, and Perham. The other qualified teams are Rochester Lourdes, United South Central of Wells, Luverne, Trinity School at River Ridge of Bloomington, Holdingford, and International Falls.

Defending champion Marisa Shady, a junior from Esko, is the highest returning qualifier. Eight additional Top 10 finishers also return: senior Lauren Friese of Fairmont, runner-up; junior Elena Danielson of St. Cloud Cathedral, third; ninth-grader Jordan Chancellor of The Blake School, fourth; junior Kayla Woltz of Chatfield, fifth; junior Victoria Alexander of Lake of the Woods of Baudette, sixth; sophomore Leah Jessen of Canby/Minneota/Lincoln HI, seventh; sophomore Clare Flanagan of The Blake School, eighth; and sophomore Emi Trost of Cannon Falls, 10th.

Class AA Boys Highlights

Eight of last year's 16 teams will be back, including the runners-up from Moorhead. The Spuds have five runners with previous state meet experience. Other teams returning from last year's meet are Owatonna, Rosemount, Burnsville, Stillwater Area, Edina, Andover, and Forest Lake. The other teams in the field are Rochester Mayo, Chanhassen, Marshall, White Bear Lake Area, Centennial of Circle Pines, Mounds View, Eden Prairie, and Willmar.

In the individual competition, senior Cole O'Brien of Burnsville is the highest returning qualifier. He is looking to improve on last year's runner-up showing. O'Brien will likely face his toughest competition from senior Mubarik Musa of Worthington. Musa won the Class A crown in 2009 and placed third in Class A in 2010. In addition to O'Brien and Musa, three other 2010 Top 10 finishers also return: senior Josh Thorson of Wayzata, sixth; senior Jensen Orlow of Holy Family Catholic of Victoria, seventh in Class A; and senior Joel Reichow of White Bear Lake Area, ninth.

Class AA Girls Highlights

Monticello, which placed second in 2010, is this year's highest returning qualifier. The Magic have eight runners with previous state meet experience. Ten additional teams also return from last year's field: Lakeville South, Lakeville North, Shakopee, Chanhassen, Prior Lake, Roseville Area, East Ridge of Woodbury, Wayzata, Forest Lake, and Andover. Teams from Eagan, St. Michael-Albertville, Totino-Grace of Fridley, Edina, and Alexandria round out this year's Class AA field.

The two-time defending champion, junior Maria Hauger of Shakopee, leads the field of five returning Top 10 finishers. The others are: Alexandria senior Jamie Piepenburg, runner-up; Andover junior Nicole Heitzman, fourth; Monticello senior Erica Seidenkranz, fifth; and Monticello sophomore Amber Seidenkranz, sixth.