The Prior Lake boys cross-country team set a new standard Nov. 2 at the Class AA state meet at St. Olaf College in Northfield.
Juniors Gabe Smit and Kyle Nordling led the No. 10-ranked Lakers to a fifth-place team finish with 160 points. It's the program's best showing in six state appearances.
Second-ranked Mounds View won the crown with 86 points, one better than top-ranked Eden Prairie. Fourth-ranked St. Paul Highland Park was third (135) and No. 5 Edina was fifth (158).
Seventh-ranked Eastview ended up sixth (166) ahead of No. 3 White Bear Lake (171), Buffalo (210), No. 11 Willmar (214), Bemidji (232), Forest Lake (249), Farmington (257), Maple Grove (297), Mankato East (335), Rochester Century (344) and Cloquet (396).
Smit finished 11th overall on the 5,000-meter course with a time of 15:55.2. Nordling ended up 26th (16:07.6).
The top-five finishers from each team count in the team standings. The Lakers' next three finishers were junior Magnus O'Connor in 50th (16:28.1), eighth-grader Hootie Hage in 64th (16:39.5) and junior Blake Vander Weide in 121st (17:04.6).
Juniors John Meagher (127th, 17:09.4) and McKoy Ross (165th, 17:46.4) also ran for Prior Lake.
In the team competition, excluding the individual state qualifiers, Smit finished sixth, followed by Nordling (17th), O'Connor (32nd), Hage (38th), Vander Weide (67th), Meagher (70th) and Ross (102nd).
Prior Lake was competing at state for the fourth time since 2014 after its runner-up finish in the Section 3AA race Oct. 24 behind Eastview. The same seven runners who competed at state for the Lakers made up their Section 3AA lineup.
The top two teams at sections make state, along with the top eight individuals not on the advancing squads.
Prior Lake ended up eighth at state in both 2014 and 2015 and was fourth in 2017. The program was seventh in 1990 and 12th in 1993.
Smit and Nordling were both competing in their third state meet. Smit ended up 22nd overall last year, while Nordling was 85th. In 2017, Smit was 69th, and Nordling was 147th.
Smit was runner-up in the Section 3AA race with a career-best time of 15:44.9. The school record is 15:39.0, which was set in 2015 by Colin Dwyer. Smit and Dwyer are the only two Lakers in program history to break 16 minutes in a 5,000-meter race.
Dwyer finished 10th at state in 2016 in his final season with the Lakers.
That 1990 Prior Lake team was led by Scott Pierce, Darren Picket and Jim Barringer who, going into this season, were second (16:00.0), fourth (16:16.10) and fifth (16:31.80), respectively as Lakers' fastest 5,000-meter times ever. Trenton Galloway, a 2016 graduate, was third (16:02.5) before the season.
Nordling's section time of 16:04.3 now puts him as the No. 5 runner on the Lakers' all-time list.