Nov. 3—MANKATO — For the last two years, the Mankato East boys have competed in the state cross country meet, but when you don't win your section, it's tough to dream of winning a state championship.
It's all different this year.
"I'll put our guys up against any team there," East coach Chris Ward said. "We're not just along for the ride this year. We're up there to compete. They're good enough to win."
The Class AA cross country meet will be held Saturday at St. Olaf in Northfield. Class AA will start at 2:30 p.m., with Class A and AAA earlier.
East junior Isaiah Anderson, who finished second in the section meet, placed seventh at the state meet last season.
Junior Luke Scholtes (30th), junior Evan McLean (92nd) and senior Nick Brauer (93rd) also competed in the state meet last season.
Sophomore Joseph Foley was an alternate on last season's state team. Freshman Dayton Clobes, who had a strong run at the section meet, and junior Domanic Wolle will also be running.
"This is very team-centered group," Ward said. "They're excited, but grounded. In the past, we've just been happy to make it, but we really think we can do something special."
Belle Plaine qualified as the section runner-up, led by section champion Emmett Gerres. Waseca's Isaac Feldkamp and Tri-City United's Dante Juberian will also be running.
In the Class AA girls meet, St. Peter's Keira Friedrich and Belle Plaine's Adriane Nelson qualified.
Waseca will be competing in the Class AA girls meet after winning the Section 1AA championship. Ella Dufault, Callie Dufault, Stella Omtvedt, Maren Schimming, Taylor Markeson, Kelsey Draeger and Kya Hoof round out the Waseca team.
Mankato Loyola/Cleveland has qualified for the state meet for the sixth consecutive season.
Soren Kelly, James Younge, Corbin Deichman, Sam Vetter, Jorden Rossow, Nathan Strobel and Carter Zimmerman make up the Loyola/Cleveland squad.
Lake Crystal Wellcome/Nicollet won the section championship, with Christian Fells, Charlie Gengler, Mason Anderson, Jacob Cooper, Luke Engel, Andrew Johnson and Aidan Moeller competing at the state meet.
Other area runners in the state meet are Madelia/Truman/Martin Luther/Granada-Huntley-East Chain's Josiah Demaris, Maple River's Cole Stencel and St. James Area's Levi Miest.
In the girls meet, Sophia Stencel of Maple River, MaKenzie Westphal of Waterville-Elysian-Morristown/Janesville-Waldorf-Pemberton and America Trejo Esqueda of St. James Area will be competing.
Sibley East will compete in the team race, having finished as runner-up in Section 2A.