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It’s a battle for every place Saturday in the State Class AA Boys Cross Country Meet as Eden Prairie’s Zach Spears (357) pulls away from Mounds View’s Finn Sokolowski (339).

Bill Miles, the retired head coach of the Wayzata High boys cross country team, stood at the finish line for the State Class AA Meet Nov. 1 in Northfield.

After a quick glimpse at his phone, he said, “Mounds View 86, Eden Prairie 87.”

Since low score is always the winner in cross country that was a heart-breaker for two Eden Prairie fans standing nearby. When Miles’ score was confirmed minutes later, Mounds View had, indeed, won the meet by one point.

“That’s athletics,” Eden Prairie head coach Jeff Lindlief said after hearing the verdict. “We ran had, we ran well. Over the years, we have been on both ends of this. Sometimes, we have been the team that won a close one.”

Seniors Jake Derouin and Zach Spears were the top finishers for Eden Prairie, as both won All-State honors. Derouin, who missed five weeks of training with an injury, took fourth place with a 5K time of 15:40. The big news was that he beat Wayzata’s Shuayb Hussein, the Lake Conference and Section 6AA individual champion, by seven seconds.

Spears, who was a JV runner last year, took 12th in state, capping a season of marvelous improvement. His time at state was a season best of 15:57.

“If we have Jake running all season, he wins the state title,” Lindlief said. “He missed four weeks, when he didn’t do any running at all, but he cross-trained in the pool.”

To finish second in state, a team needs more than two runners, and Eden Prairie’s supporting cast did a good job on Saturday.

“As a team, we had the lead at the 2-mile mark,” Lindlief said. “Mounds View held back and had a strong finish.”

Lindlief said later that the bus ride home to Eden Prairie was a happy one, even though the Eagles finished a point out of first place.

“We got the culture going early this summer, and five of us went to camp in Colorado to train for the season,” Derouin said. The preseason togetherness was one reason for the Eagles’ success Saturday at St. Olaf. They also won the Lake Conference and Section 6AA titles.

Other members of the Eagles’ state runner-up team are Jack Gschwendtner, Alex Gutierrez, Isaac Hartman, Tristan Lainhart, Mohamed Mohamud, Nile Timmerman and Ben Van Sloun.


Paulsen All-State

Three girls represented Eden Prairie in the State Class AA Meet Saturday in Northfield.

Senior captain Liesl Paulsen, running at state for the fifth year in a row, earned All-State honors with a seventh place. Her 5K time was 18:21.

“Liesl is the only girl we ever brought up to varsity as an eighth-grader,” coach Lindlief said. “Her goal was to finish in the top 10 at state this year. This is great for her.”

Senior Abby Jirele and junior Ella Bakken also ran at state for the Eagle girls as individual qualifiers. Jirele finished in 19:12 and Bakken’s time was 19:26.

The Lake Conference had the top three finishers in the State Class AA girls race. Edina took the title with Wayzata second and St. Michael-Albertville third.


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