The top of the Eden Prairie High School boys cross-country team ran to second-, third- and fourth-place overall finishes at Thursday’s Bauman-Rovn Invitational (Hopkins Invite).
Combined with 25th- and 26th-place finishes from its Nos. 4 and 5 runners, Eden Prairie won the team competition.
The Eagles counted a meet-best 61 points. Eastview (88), Prior Lake (102), Willmar (135) and Hopkins (144) finished two, three, four and five.
“We’re still running without Jake (Jake Derouin) and Alex (Alex Guitierrez),” said Eden Prairie coach Jeff Lindlief, “but we’re competitive. Our top guys ran really well, the rest of the guys ran decent.”
Mohamed Mohamud, Issac Hartman and Zach Spears crossed the finish line in a pack, counting 16:04.7, 16:05 and 16:05.7.
Jack Gschwendtner and Nile Timmerman crossed at 17:05.7 and 17:12.8.
“The second group ran well, but they can’t be one minute behind,” said Lindlief. “If they can cut the gap to 30-40 seconds, we’ll have something.”
A healthy Derouin and Guitierrez would also do the trick.
“They’re both chomping at the bit,” said Lindlief.
The Eden Prairie girls placed third, two spots behind Saint Michael-Albertville, one spot behind section foe Minnetonka.
“We’re closing the gap,” said Lindlief, “What did Tonka beat us by, 30 points?”
Actually, Minnetonka beat Eden Prairie by 27 points. Saint Michael-Albertville counted a team-low 59 points. Minnetonka finished second with 77, Eden Prairie third with 104. Marshall (141) and Willmar (144) finished four and five.
In its season-opening meet on Friday, Aug. 30, Minnetonka beat Eden Prairie by 58 points.
Note: The Aug. 30 meet was a 2-mile race. The Bauman-Rovn Invitational, at Gale Woods Farm, was a 5K race.
“We’re getting closer,” said Lindlief. “We ran a better second half, but started too far behind.”
“That’s a fine line,” said Lindlief. “Some kids are better at starting strong and holding on and some have that mental toughness that allows for passing a bunch of kids in the second half.
“We’re figuring those things out,” he added.
What Lindlief does know is that it takes times in the low 19s to be competitive. Right now, Eden Prairie is counting too many 20s.
“Thursday was a learning race,” said Lindlief. “We have six more before sections.”
Liesl Paulsen finished sixth overall, counting 19:25.6. Ella Bakken finished 14th (20:02.8), Haley Parker 21st (20:10.6), Lizzy Jester 31st (20:53.7) and Abby Jirele 32nd (20:54.3).
Eden Prairie hosts its Metro Invitational on Saturday. The boys varsity race starts at 10:40 a.m., girls varsity at 11:10 a.m.