(New state XC rankings: http://www.iatfcc.org/index.php?option=com_content&task=view&id=17&Itemid=29)
CEDAR RAPIDS — It’s loaded. Like always.
Noelridge Park will be the site of the Cedar Rapids Invitational cross country meet Thursday afternoon. Twenty schools are entered, including eight ranked boys teams and eight rated girls teams.
Ames is the defending boys’ champion, but Class 4A second-ranked Linn-Mar is a slight favorite this time around. Third-rated Pleasant Valley, No. 4 Iowa City West and No. 7 Iowa City High are expected to be in the mix.
Linn-Mar’s girls also are ranked No. 2. Pleasant Valley (third), Cedar Rapids Kennedy (fourth) and West (fifth) are in the chase group. City High won the title last year.
Both defending individual champions are back. Linn-Mar’s Josh Evans won the 2011 boys race in 15:44. Cedar Rapids Washington’s Etienne Nzoyisaba was third.
Bettendorf’s Anna Peer (14:42) and Mahnee Watts (15:03) were 1-2 in the girls’ race last year. They’re both seniors now.
The meet begins at 3:45 p.m. with middle-school competition. The varsity girls run at 5:30, varsity boys at 5:50.