Led by two seniors finishing 1-2, White Bear Lake was champion among 16 teams in the Steve Hoag Invitational at Anoka High School on Wednesday.

Max Nelson was first into the chute in 16:01.2 and Isaac Maruyama placed second in 16:03.8.

Close behind were senior Logan Tanttu in fifth place (16:34) and junior Trevor Locke seventh (16:36).

Ernie Mattson, sophomore, placed 15th (17:07) for the other counting score. The Bears also had junior Ben McLaughlin in 16th place and senior Sam Verkerke 23rd among 112 runners.

The Bears, currently ranked No. 3 in Class 2A by the coaches association, had 29 points, with Minnetonka second at 45. The top five also included St. Michael-Albertville 125, Robbinsdale Armstrong 141 and Irondale 178.

“The boys ran really well today. It really helps that we have a senior-loaded varsity,” coach Dan Kovacich said. “Having Max, Isaac and Logan up in our top three spots really sets the stage for our races. Seniors have a little extra push each race because they know it will be their last (season).”

This was the Bears’ first 5,000 meter race of the season. They won a two-mile meet at Rosemount on Aug. 30.

Looking ahead, the coach assessed: “We have a good team, but to reach that next level, we need to close the gap with our fifth and seventh runners. They are running well, but if we can get them to make the next leap we could be really dangerous.”

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