The White Bear Lake boys, primed for a top-three finish at the state cross country meet, were not at their best Saturday and placed seventh of 16 teams in Class AA.

Max Nelson led the Bears, earning all-state status by finishing 15th in 15:59.3, at St. Olaf College in Northfield.

The Bears were ranked No. 3 at the end of an impressive regular season, highlighted by winning a section with three of the top six ranked teams and the huge multi-state Roy Griak Invitational for the first time.

Conference rival Mounds View edged Eden Prairie by one point to capture the championship. Highland Park, whom the Bears beat at the section, placed third.

Nelson was 30th at the one-mile mark, 27th at the two-mile and kept passing runners, as he made a big jump after placing 45th each of the last two seasons in 16:20 and 16:21. Nelson capped an excellent senior season in which he also won the conference meet and placed third in the section behind the 1-2 ranked runners.

At state, Isaac Maruyama finished 32nd in 16:14.2. The Bears had a gap after that with Logan Tanttu 82nd (16:46), Trevor Locke 84th (16:46), Ernie Mattson 97th (16:54), Sam Verkerke 107th (16:56) and Ben McLaughlin 139th (17:16), among 176 runners.

In team scoring, Nelson was 12th, Maruyama 21st, Tanttu 43rd, Locke 45th, Mattson 50th, Verkerke 57th and McLaughlin 80th.

Maruyama, Tanttu, and Verkerke are seniors. Locke and McLaughlin are juniors. Mattson is a sophomore.

Highland Park senior Oliver Paleen was individual champion in 15:25.2.

Team scoring

(1) Mounds View 86 (2) Eden Prairie 87 (3) St. Paul Highland Park 135 (4) Edina 158 (5) Prior Lake 160 (6) Eastview 166 (7) White Bear Lake 171 (8) Buffalo 210 (9) Willmar 214 (10) Bemidji 232 (11) Forest Lake 249 (12) Farmington 257 (13) Maple Grove 297 (14) Mankato East 335 (15) Rochester Century 344 (16) Cloquet 396

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