Running in rain is nothing new for cross country runners. Running in puddles the size of most greens at the Chaska Par 30 Golf Course Oct. 1, it was one for the memory books.

Two years removed from the cancellation of the 2017 Victoria Lions Invitational because of heavy rain, the show went on in 2019 despite precipitation throughout the night and day leading up to the race.

By the varsity races, mud replaced grass on some spots on the 5K course.

Certainly the most memorable of the 30th annual running of the race.

Gabe Smit of Prior Lake and Liesl Paulsen of Eden Prairie were crowned champions with Minnetonka claiming the girls team title, while No. 8-ranked Stillwater edged No. 1 Eden Prairie for the boys championship.

A boys field with six current or former ranked runners, Smit pulled away for a seven-second win over Eden Prairie's Zach Pears in a time of 16 minutes, 38 seconds. Nick Scheller of Chanhassen, ranked No. 2 in state, was third in 16:48.8.

Scheller will run again Saturday at Alexandria's Meet of Champions at Arrowwood Resort, a rematch with top-ranked Oliver Paleen of St. Paul Highland Park.

Zach Long gave Chanhassen two runners in the top-10, an eighth-place finish of 17:24.9. The Storm were fifth of 16 teams with a score of 161.

Ben Scheller (18:41), Ryan Stratton (19:12.4) and Jack Olson (19:18.1) completed Chanhassen's team score.

Chaska, led by Ethan Leonard in 30th place, a time of 18:17.5, was ninth with 249 points.

Nolan Sutter was 45th, the third-best eighth grader finish, in 18:46.8. Chaska's Derek Wendland (19:06.6), Andrew Alldredge (19:15.2) and Tyler Scherbing (19:23.9) added to the team score.

Minnetonka had five of the top-12 finishers in the girls race led by Kate LeBlanc and Ella Graham in third and fourth places in times of 19:50.2 and 19:52.3. The Skippers are ranked No. 4 in state.

Annalise Johnson (20:13) was the only Minnetonka upperclassmen among their top five runners in ninth place. Avery Marasco-Johnson (20:16) and Elizabeth Weider (20:29) gave Minnetonka a 22-point team victory with a score of 38.

Chanhassen, fourth with 147 points, behind three Lake Conference programs, got a sixth-place run from Meghan Pierson in 19:55.5.

Marissa Long and Jennifer Pierson added top-25 finishes for the Storm in 20:52.3 and 21:15.5. Madeline Hauck (22:09.9) and Rachel Gallagher (22:13.4) completed the team score in top-50 placings.

Gabrielle Bjugan was first across the finish line for Chaska in 53rd place in 22:24.2. The Hawks tied for 11th place with a score of 344.

Lillie Powell (22:39.8), Kate Perrill (23:09.5), Ella Long (23:25.3), and seniors Brianna Loosbrock (23:58.3) and Rebekah Scott (24:07.3) followed in the field of nearly 100 runners.


Mason Beise ran a strong final mile to move up through the pack eight positions, placing 12th overall for Southwest at the Dakota County Fairgrounds in Farmington Oct. 1.

Owen Seltz (18:59) and Brandon Mosely (18:59.3) finished 22nd and 23rd as the Stars placed third overall.

Ranked St. Paul Central dominated the team field with 29 points followed by Hastings (89) and Southwest Christian (116).

In the girls race, the Stars got numerous personal records or season bests including from Taylor Scott, who beat her previous season-best by more than a minute for a finish of 23:11 and placing 29th overall.

Trinity Streed (24:17.3) was 45th overall followed by Cierra Larson (24:49.2) and Zoe Jones (24:51.1).


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