On the same course as the Section 1AAA meet and with many of the same teams, the Northfield girls cross country team found itself in a close battle for first place at Thursday’s Ev Berg Invite in Owatonna.
Rochester Century (72) narrowly beat Northfield (74) ahead of other Section 1AAA teams Owatonna (112), Rosemount (117), Lakeville North (190), Rochester Mayo (229) and Rochester John Marshall (287).
Notably absent from the meet was Farmington, which typically wins the section, but the Raiders placed themselves right alongside Rochester Century, which is normally in contention for the second state-qualifying position.
Eighth grader Caley Graber led the way for the Raiders in sixth place with a time of 19 minutes, 35.69 seconds, just behind Century’s Jazzlyn Hanenberger in fifth place and ahead of Lakeville North’s Savanna Varbanov in seventh and Owatonna’s Carsyn Brady in ninth.
Seniors Clara Lippert (20:02.20) and Adriana Fleming (20:04.01) finished back-to-back in 12th and 13th, with freshman Claire Casson motoring to 19th in 20:27.96 and freshman Addison Enfield claiming the team’s final scoring spot in 29th in 20:46.00.
Northfield and Rochester Century were remarkably similar Thursday, with the Raiders finishing with an average time of 20:11 and a spread of 1:10 from Graber to Enfield, while the Panthers posted an average time of 20:10 and a gap of 1:11 from their fastest to fifth-fastest runner.
In the boys race, Northfield finished in eighth place and was paced by junior Nathan Amundson in 14th place with a time of 16:52.37. Junior Sam Folland was the next Raider to cross the line in 38th with a time of 17:47.51, junior Carter Schlomann was next in 49th with a time of 18:00.76, Carter Steenblock followed in 56th with a time of 18:21.29 and eighth grader Isaac Schlief snagged the team’s final scoring spot in 61st with a time of 18:28.01.
Lakeville North won the boys competition with 47 points just ahead of second-place Rosemount with 53. Nova Classical Academy claimed third with 91, Owatonna slotted into fourth with 100, Rochester Mayo snagged fifth with 142, Rochester Century settled into sixth with 173, Mankato West nabbed seventh with 218 and Northfield grabbed eighth with 218.
Austin (231), Rochester John Marshall (241), Albert Lea (267), Winona (295) and Kenyon-Wanamingo/Zumbrota-Mazeppa (381) rounded out the rest of the field.