Layla Vennink

Sophomore Layla Vennink finished fourth overall to lead Prior Lake to the team title in the Lakeville Applejack Invitational Sept. 16 at Steve Michaud Park.

The Prior Lake girls cross country team made a statement at the Lakeville AppleJack Invitational Sept. 16 at Steve Michaud Park. The No. 3-ranked Lakers had five runners in the top 14 in winning the 17-team competition with 55 points, which was 24 better than No. 4 Edina. Fifth-ranked Farmington ended up third (83), followed by No. 12 Lakeville South (160), Eagan (169) and Woodbury (174). On the boys side, Prior Lake had just two runners competing in the varsity competition, so the team didn’t have a team score (five runners are needed). Sophomore Ledger Sears finished 70th overall for the Laker boys with a time of 18:40.30 on the 5,000-meter course, while senior James Pieper ended up 97th (19:06.70). The Lakers were also competing without junior Hootie Hage, who is ranked No. 8 in the state in the individual Class 3A rankings. Top-ranked Lakeville North won the boys team title with 28 points, followed by No. 6 Minneapolis Southwest (55), Lakeville South (120), Woodbury (140) and White Bear Lake (164). For the Prior Lake girls, sophomore Layla Vennink led the way with a fourth-place finish with a time of 19:39.70. Ninth grader Sara Gastony was also in the top 10, taking eighth (19:54.10). Sophomore Sophia Basile ended up 11th for the Prior Lake girls (20:03.30), followed by sophomore Maggie Hoen in 13th (20:05.00), ninth grader Isabelle Reinders in 14th (20:05.90, ninth grader Keeley Mohling in 16th (20:08.40) and ninth grader Talia Bushman in 21st (20:35.90). Prior Lake will see Edina again in the Section 2AAA competition, which will be held Oct. 25 at Gale Woods in Minnetrista. Top-ranked Minnetonka is also in the field, along with Eden Prairie, Shakopee, Waconia, Chaska and Chanhassen. Only two teams from the section make the state field, so a really good team will be left out. Edina won the section last year, while Prior Lake was second. Edina also won the state team title with the Lakers, taking third. Second-ranked Wayzata finished between the two Section 2AAA squads. Prior Lake has made the state field 15 times since 1989. The team’s best finish was 2009 when it took second. The Laker girls were fourth in both 2005 and 2007 and fifth in 2006. Other finishes include seventh in 1989; eighth in 2020; ninth in 2010; 10th in 1993, 2001, 2004 and 2008; 13th in 2011; 15th in 2003 and 16th in 2018. This year’s Class 3A state competition will be Nov. 5 at its annual site, St. Olaf College in Northfield. Prior Lake will also be looking to defend its South Suburban Conference title. The SSC Championships are scheduled for Oct. 14 at Eagan High School. Hage was the individual conference champion in the boys race last season.

The Prior Lake girls cross country team made a statement at the Lakeville AppleJack Invitational Sept. 16 at Steve Michaud Park.

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