Gabe Smit

Junior Gabe Smit has led Prior Lake on the trails all season, including winning the Victoria Lions Invitational in Chaska Oct. 1.

Gabe Smit looks ready for the South Suburban Conference Championships.

The junior on the Prior Lake boys cross-country team topped the field at the annual Victoria Lions Invitational at the Chaska Par 30 Golf Course Oct. 1. Smit had a winning time of 16:38.3.

The conditions were less than ideal, and a steady rain made the 5,000-meter course a sloppy mess. Eighth-ranked Stillwater managed the course the best, winning with a score of 52 points.

Second-ranked Eden Prairie was second in the 16-team field with 70 points, while No. 6 Eastview and No. 11 Prior Lake each finished with 71 points. The Lightning won the tiebreaker based their sixth-best finisher finishing ahead of Prior Lake’s.

On the girls side, the Lakers were fifth out of 14 teams with 162 points. Fourth-ranked Minnetonka won the title (38), followed by No. 7 Eden Prairie (60), No. 2 Edina (95) and Chanhassen (147).

Seventh-grader Layla Vennick led the Prior Lake girls with a 14th-place finish (20:32.2).

Eighth-grader Amelia Eng ended up 31st (21.31.0) for the Lakers ahead of junior Olivia Zastrow in 32nd (21:31.4), seventh-grader Maggie Hoen in 34th (21:34.5), seventh-grader Kate Anderson in 51st (22:16.3), ninth-grader Adeline Knutson in 56th (22:26.6) and junior Katherine Kaisersatt in 66th (22:52.5).

For the Laker boys, junior Kyle Nordling also had a strong race, finishing fifth overall (17:09.5), while eighth-grader Jordan Hage and junior Magnus O’Connor were 17th and 18th (17.45.3 and 17:46.3), respectively.

Other finishes for the boys included junior Blake Vander Weide (30th, 18:21.1), junior John Meagher (36th, 18:37.9) and senior Samuel Klinger (62nd, 19:23.2).

The SSC Championships are Oct. 11 at Eagan High School. The Section 3AA meet is scheduled for Oct. 24 at Valleywood Golf Course in Apple Valley.

The top two teams make the state field along with the top eight individuals not on the advancing squads.

The Section 3AA boys race should be interesting with four ranked teams in the field — Eastview, Prior Lake, No. 10 Eagan and No. 12 Rosemount. Smit and Nording made the state field last year as individuals.

The Laker boys have made state as a team three times since 2013, including 2014 and 2017.

On the girls side, there’s only one ranked team in the Section 3AA field, and that’s No. 9 Rosemount. Prior Lake was the section runner-up last year, ending a six-year state drought.

The Laker girls had a dominant 12-year state run starting in 2001. The program went to state 10 straight years (2003-2012).

The Class AA state meet is Nov. 2 at St. Olaf College in Northfield. The Prior Lake girls were 16th in the team standings last year.

Edina is the defending boys state champion, while St. Michael-Albertville won the girls crown.

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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