Over the past three seasons, St. James boys cross country has established itself as a force, even at the state level.
In 2017, the Saints placed second at state. The following year, St. James finished 11th.
In 2019, St. James has impressed at essentially every meet they've run in this year, including standout performances at the Milaca Mega Meet and at the Big South Championship meet, outclassing the rest of the conference small schools in the process.
Led by a talented group of seniors, who helped build this powerhouse, the Saints have state hopes in mind.
Seniors Jackson Miest, Troy Parulski, and Seth Pierson have seen the boys cross country program rise, and now spearhead a Saints attack that features seven strong runners, and even some prominent alternates.
"We've just kind of grown-up together through track and cross country," said Troy Parulski. "Through all those years we've run the same races with each other."
"The time together that we've spent I think helps make us special," said Pierson. "Being leaders of the team and being role models also brings us closer together."
The trio has not only set high expectations for themselves but also the rest of team.
"I think we've pushed each other really well and it's helped every one of us," said Miest.
That tough love from top to bottom has helped the likes of Marco Crispin, Caleb Rivera, and Juan Castaneda round out a devastating top-seven. Fellow senior Mauricio Vite has been as steady as they come in 2019.
After qualifying for state in the last two seasons, the Saints are looking to breakthrough, and maybe capture a state title.
"We just have to take it as it goes," said Parulski. "Last year we showed up nervous and it got in everyone's head and we didn't run as well as we wanted. If we make it back this year, we just have to stay calm."
With their strong group of seniors, the Saints are managing expectations.
"I feel like coming off state where we didn't do that well, we came in this year trying to keep a low profile," said Parulski.
The Saints will look to take the section championship on Thursday afternoon in Blue Earth. The state meet will take place on November 2nd.