By: Abby Altman
Highland Park girls cross country could be starting what some might describe as a dynasty. They have 10 consecutive conference championships, 2 consecutive state appearances, they won their section meet with a perfect score of 15, and recently became the 2021 Minnesota Class AA state champions.
Last weekend, the team took the 4 hour bus trip to Sioux Falls, South Dakota for the annual Nike Cross Heartland Regionals race. Highland Park, The Scots, have attended Nike regionals many times in previous years, but had never anticipated one as much as this. The Scots weren’t even put in the championship race originally, and after fighting their way into the race lineup, they were ranked 22nd out of 22 teams.
“We knew that we deserved to be ranked higher, and that made us want to prove ourselves out on the course,” said junior Chloe Koch. Freshman Ellie Moore shared a similar mindset saying, “I wanted our team to place high and prove to Nike that we belonged there.”
The girls did not stop short of proving they belonged there. Out of 22 teams from 7 states, the Highland Park Scots placed 3rd, just behind Middleton and Edina.
Highland senior Molly Moening finished her last high school race in 10th place. The team was sporting their “Molly shirts” during the awards ceremony to show their support and appreciation for their senior runner. Aside from Moening, the Scots won’t be losing anyone else to graduation. The rest of the team has 4 underclassmen, one of which is only in 7th grade.
“Our team has grown so much this year, and we’re only getting stronger,” said junior Delia Johnson. Johnson has been a strong asset to the team since 7th grade, and hopes to come back even stronger for her senior year.
Sophomore Luna Scorzelli was out for most of this season injured, but came back just in time for Nike. Scorzelli finished 2nd for Highland, and 30th overall. Even though Moening is graduating, the team is confident with Luna filling in her shoes. Koch stated, “I believe that with a summer of injury free training, Luna will be able to perform at a similar level. In addition, everyone else just keeps improving.”
Most of the Highland team will be turning their attention to Nordic skiing for the winter, with hopes of gaining yet another state championship.