Liesl Paulsen

Liesl Paulsen of Eden Prairie leads two Edina girls to the finish line in the Section 6AA Meet. (Sun Photo by John Sherman)

Senior Liesl Paulsen, one of the all-time greats in the Eden Prairie High girls cross country program, is set to run in the State Class AA Meet for the fifth time Saturday, Nov. 2, at St. Olaf College in Northfield.

What does it take to make state five years? Consistent training, competitive fire and avoiding injuries are three of the variables.

Paulsen’s career has embodied all three.

“I am so proud of all of our girls,” Eden Prairie head coach Jeff Lindlief said after the Eagles finished third in the Section 6AA Meet Oct. 23 at Gale Woods Farm. The Eagles placed behind the state-qualifying teams from Edina and Wayzata. Edina scored 38 points to 45 for Wayzata. Eden Prairie scored 86 to edge Minnetonka’s 90 for third place.

Individually, Paulsen placed third behind champion Abbey Nechanicky from Wayzata and runner-up Sydney Drevlow from Hopkins. Paulsen had a 5K time of 18:45 as one of only seven girls who finished the race in under 19 minutes.

“This section is notoriously fast,” said Paulsen, who noted that conditions were not ideal for the race.

“We have really good weather today, but there were some wet spots on the course. I didn’t have my greatest time today. I tried to stay with the Wayzata girl [Nechanicky] for as long as I could. She is very good.”

Nechanicky’s time was 18 minutes flat, and she advances to state as one of the favorites.

Also qualifying for state from Eden Prairie is Abby Jirele, who placed ninth in the section race with a time of 19:05.

Other counters for the Eagles were Ella Bakken (18th in 19:17), Haley Parker (27th in 20:07) and Lori Derouin (29th in 20:22). Close behind were Eagles Raina Moorjani and Emily Dahl in 30th and 31st places.

Paulsen said that running with her friends makes cross country a great experience.

“We are all really close - like best friends,” she said.

Section 6AA

Team Totals

Edina 38, Wayzata 45, Eden Prairie 86, Minnetonka 90, Hopkins 145, St. Louis Park 169, Minneapolis Southwest 202, Armstrong 213, Minneapolis Washburn 215, Benilde-St. Margaret’s 310.

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