A top-five finish at the state meet is always the goal for the Minot High boys cross country team.
Last year, the Magicians exceeded their own expactions when they cracked the top three, finishing behind Bismarck and Davies. It was their best finish at state in decades.
Now, Minot again looks to grab a spot in the top five, but it will be tougher than last season. The Magicians graduated their top five runners, including Dylan Ellis and Sean Krill, who finished 18th and 19th, respectively. This year, the scoring will come from more than just the senior class.
"The guys that will be scoring at varsity meets will be a nice, even distribution," Minot coach Aaron Klingbeil said. "It will be two or three from each class even down to the freshman class. We're looking toward the future going, 'Wow, we could have a pretty good year this year and we could have a pretty good year next year.'"
Klingbeil is looking for big things out of his more experienced runners this season in hopes of filling major holes.
"So far Jaden Wahlund is running very well," Klingbeil said. "We're excited about that. He's healthy. After that we have a good, solid pack of guys. Chris Stock is another senior who's going to be running well at varsity. We're really relying on the next four or five guys coming together."
Adding to the difficulty of another third-place finish is the rosters of Minot's closest competitors. Klingbeil said Bismarck, the nine-time defending state champion, Century and Davies all return "good, solid squads." Still, a top-five finish won't feel like a consolation prize.
"Right now I think we have a shot at top five, which would be really good again," Wahlund said. "A lot of kids put in a lot of miles this summer and we're starting out strong and we're hoping to carry it through the whole year."
Participating in their final season, the senior class feels the pressure to perform as well as their predecessors.
"I feel like there's a great deal of pressure," Stock said. "We took third last year and that's the highest we've taken in a while. Trying to repeat that will be a lot of pressure and a lot of work on our shoulders."
The Magicians open their season at the Minot High Invitational at Star City Golf Course in Velva on Friday at noon.
Mike Kraft covers Minot High athletics and general assignments. Follow him on Twitter @MKraft24_MDN.