The Andover girls cruised to first place at the Anoka ABC Earlybird meet Aug. 29, while Anoka’s Kaelyn Nelson closed fast to claim the individual title.
Andover seized three of the top four spots, as Alyssa Gerth took second place in 20:10.8, Claire Beckman was third in 20:12.0 and Brekkyn Lammert was fourth in 20:30.2.
Nelson helped lead the Tornadoes to a runner-up team finish by pulling away with first individually in 19:53.2. Alicia Blesi finished in eighth in 21:07.3 and Ingrid Norquist was ninth in 21:09.9 for Anoka.
Coon Rapids’ Ilsa Hoaglund earned 10th overall in 22:07.6.
The top four teams were only separated by eight points in the boys race, with Coon Rapids taking third and Anoka fourth.
Coon Rapids had a trio of finishers in the top seven, as Mikeal Smith took fourth in 17:52.8, Reed Smith took sixth in 17:55.9 and Payton Martinek took seventh in 17:56.1.
Cameron Heppner was Andover’s top finisher with a third-place time of 17:31.7 and Blake Fuller led Anoka with an eighth-place run of 18:01.2.
Head coach (years with team): Dave Johnson (2nd year).
Team captains: Jeremy Davie, Cooper Manske and Reanna Cruz.
Returning starters/key contributors: “Our boys team will be led by 2018 all-conference runners Jeremy Davie and Ben Nauman,” Johnson said. “We add seniors Cooper Manske and Blake Weiss to our veteran leadership. Our girls team will be led by ninth-grader Reanna Cruz, who was the MCAA all-conference runner-up last year and qualified for the state meet in Northfield.”
Team strength(s) entering the season: “The boys will be top-heavy with veteran leadership that will help the rest of the team full of underclassmen,” Johnson said. “The girls team continues to be very young that will build for the future centering around state-bound Reanna Cruz.”
New athletes: “Another promising runner is eighth-grader River Santiago, who will experience another varsity role this season at such a young age. He looks very good in the preseason,” Johnson said. “For the girls team, varsity returnees include ninth-grader Maria Flaherty and eighth-grader Paige Heppner. They will continue their growth in the sport of cross-country.”
Expectations: “Our goals on the boys team are to heavily compete in the MCAA Conference this year,” Johnson said. “With heavyweights Heritage Christian and Spectrum, we would like to close the gap on those respected teams. For our girls team, we would like to continue to gain experience with our youth movement. Led by Reanna Cruz, we build for the future.”