According to coach Darrel Carstens, the boys team will face a tough challenge in the conference, with St. Cloud Cathedral and Albany returning several members from last year's state competition. Sauk Centre is also expected to pose a threat.
Last year's state champion, Staples, will return a complete squad for section competition, and Morris is looking tough with some of the state's top runners. Although the boys face strong competition, it's with a great tradition of five state appearances.
"With many young developing runners, it will be fun to see us progress," commented Coach Carstens. "We have some excellent young runners working very hard. Dan Johnson was the MVP all-conference runner last year, and should be a great leader."
The girls team was runner-up in the conference last season, and are returning many runners to challenge for the title this year. Sauk Centre won by five points in last year's tournament, and once again, look like the team to beat.
In section competition, Wadena-Deer Creek were the state champions, and are expected to be tough. Morris also will return most of last year's state team. Coach Carstens noted Holdingford and New London-Spicer as two tough teams to beat year after year. They will be fighting for top spots yet again.
"We are developing some fine young runners and should challenge for a conference title," stated Coach Carstens. "We need an exceptional move forward to challenge the top, but our attitudes are geared to be there." The Bulldogs are returning two all-conference runners with Erin Aagesen and Tiffany Rausch.
Section 6, which includes Paynesville, had the state champions in both boys and girls competition last year. Coach Carstens felt that being in such a tough section would only make the Paynesville teams tougher, as goals would have to be set at a high level. He concluded with praise for the young Bulldog teams, whom he stated have had fantastic attitudes throughout the first week of practice.
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