Nov. 2—Soccer or cross country?
St. Peter sophomore Keira Friedrich isn't sure which sport she'd choose, if she had to. But she doesn't have to choose.
"I love both sports so much," she said. "I really don't know which one I'd pick."
Friedrich is one of several area athletes who will be competing at the state cross country meet, which will be held Saturday at the University of Minnesota's Les Bolstad Golf Course, a new venue for the event.
During the regular season, Friedrich competes with the St. Peter soccer team, but on Friday mornings, the cross country team adjusted its schedule so Friedrich can attend practice before school.
"The team is very supportive," Friedrich said. "Cross country goes a little longer (in the fall) so it works out nice for me. I do a lot of running on my own. Both coaches are pretty understanding if I need to take it easy some days."
Friedrich competed in three regular-season cross country meets, plus the Big South Conference and Section 2AA meets, to meet the sport's requirements.
Friedrich, who placed 21st at the state meet last year, will be joined by teammate Lucia Penner, an eighth-grader.
"It was such a bigger meet than I was used to," Friedrich said. "Just having that experience will help me this time."
Freshman Landree Quint of Mankato West will be making her first state-meet appearance, while sophomore Lauren Henkels of Mankato East ran at the state meet in 2021, finishing 32nd.
Class A girls
The Mankato Loyola/Cleveland/St. Clair girls are making their first state appearance in program history, having placed second at the Section 2A meet last week.
Sophomore Valerie Quast was the Section 2A winner, and seventh-grader Charlotte Meyer placed third. Eighth-grader Lily Phillips, sophomore Molly Koester, eight-grader Charlotte Kirschner, seventh-grader Izzy Endres and sophomore Teya Waagner make up the rest of the team.
"We're very young, and we've been getting better every meet," coach Landon Javens said. "We expected a good outcome, but to see the goal of making it to state come to fruition was awesome."
Eighth-grader Sophia Stencel of Maple River also will be competing at the state meet.
Class AA boys
East is the defending Class AA champion in the boys race, defeating Rock Ridge by only two points last season. The Cougars have been ranked No. 1 in the state coaches poll for most of the season.
"We're working this week on having confidence, but you don't want to be arrogant," East coach Chris Ward said. "There are a lot of good teams up there. Last year, we thought we could win, but it's a different feeling this year with a target on our back."
Isaiah Anderson, who won the Section 2AA individual championship, placed ninth last season, while Luke Scholtes, Joseph Foley, Evan MacLean and Dayton Clobes all finished in the top 45 of the team runners.
Audi Thom, who placed sixth at the section meet, is in his first season in the program, having competed in soccer last year.
The course is new this season, but East has participated in a regular-season meet at the golf course.
"It's new for everyone," Ward said. "You never know what to expect."
West sophomore Ephraim Staley qualified for his first state meet. Last season, he placed third at the section meet but was disqualified for interfering with another runner near the end.
St. Peter sophomore Alexander Bur also qualified for the state meet.
Class A boys
Loyola/Cleveland/St. Clair sophomore Soren Kelly qualified for the state meet, as did teammate Sam Vetter, a junior. Both ran in the state meet the last two seasons when the Crusaders qualified as a team.
Mason Anderson of Lake Crystal Wellcome Memorial/Nicollet also will be competing at the state meet.
Follow Chad Courrier on Twitter @ChadCourrier.