The Prior Lake cross country teams have some talent back to be contenders again.

The Laker girls have four runners back who competed at the Class AA state meet last year — senior Adaline Hiveley, juniors Olivia Zastrow and Kate Kaisersatt and ninth-grader Adeline Knutson.

Prior Lake finished 16th in the state team standings last fall, making its first appearance there since 2012 after qualifying by finishing runner-up in the Section 3AA competition.

Meanwhile, the Prior Lake boys return to two runners who competed at state last year in juniors Gabe Smit and Kyle Nordling. The Lakers were fifth in the Section 3AA race last year (top two make state). The boys have qualified for state as a team three teams in the last six years, 2017, 2014 and 2013.

Smit and Nordling both made their second state appearance last year. Smit ended up 22nd overall in the 5,000-meter race, while Nordling was 85th. In 2017, Smit was 69th at state, while Nordling took 147th.

Prior Lake has four other runners back who competed at sections last year — seniors Shane Dragnis, Samuel Klinger and Kyle Schaeffer and junior Blake VanderWeide.

Others expected to be in the mix for the Laker girls' seven varsity spots include four seventh-graders, Brooke Everton, Layla Vennink, Kate Anderson and Maggie Hoen.

"We had five seventh-graders finish in the top 15 and three in top five at our time trial," Prior Lake girls coach Dan Saad said.

Both Prior Lake teams open the season Aug. 30 at the annual Irish Invitational in Rosemount, which is a two-mile race. Girls varsity is at 10:40 a.m., followed by the boys varsity.

The first 5,000-meter competition for both teams is Sept. 5 Gale Woods in Minnetrista starting at 4 p.m.

In the first Class 2A boys poll, three South Suburban Conference teams are ranked — No. 3 Eastview, No. 9 Rosemount and No. 11 Farmington. Eastview and Rosemount are also in Section 3AA.

Individually, Smit is ranked No. 10 in Class 2A. Two other runners from Section 3AA are ranked, AJ Green of Eastview at No. 3 and Colden Longley of Bloomington Jefferson at No. 8.

On the girls side, Rosemount is the only team from Section 3AA ranked in the preseason poll at No. 8. Individually, no runners are ranked from the section.

Both Prior Lake teams should be in the hunt for state spots by the time the Section 3AA meet rolls around Oct. 24 at Valleywood Golf Course in Apple Valley. The top eight individuals not on the top two finishing teams also make the state field.

The Laker girls had a dominant 12-year state run starting in 2001. The program went to state 10 straight years from 2003 to 2012, before ending their six-year drought last year.

This year's SSC Championships are set for Oct. 11 at Eagan High School. Rosemount and No. 12 Farmington are the only two ranked girls teams in the preseason poll from the conference.

This year's Class AA state meet is set for Nov. 4 at its annual site. St. Olaf College in Northfield. St. Michael-Albertville is the defending boys champion, while Edina won the girls crown last year.

Tom Schardin covers sports for Savage and Prior Lake. He is dependable, sarcastic and always joking around. Tom enjoys running and swimming and is often busy coaching his two kids' sports teams.

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