Century's girls have cross country tradition. The Patriots have finished in the top five at the state meet each of the last five years, including a 2014 state championship.
Legacy's boys cross country program is just in its fifth season. The Sabers have finished 11th, eighth, fifth and third in their previous four state meets.
Yet the two teams have a couple of things in common. Both are ranked second in the state in the statewide coaches' poll, and both are aiming at their best races of the season on Saturday.
Saturday's state meet is scheduled for the Parkhurst Recreation Area north of Jamestown. The Class A girls are scheduled to run at 2 p.m., the boys at 2:45. Both races will be five kilometers.
Williston enters the meet as the boys favorite, and Fargo Davies is the team to beat in the girls race. Williston won the Western Dakota Association meet two weeks ago and Fargo Davies prevailed in the Eastern Dakota Conference meet.
Davies is seeking its third straight girls title and Century, ranked fourth in the boys poll is after its third championship in a row.
Century girls coach Julie Stavn liked the way her team ran while edging Minot 75-80 in the WDA meet, but she thinks the Patriots can be better.
"I still feel we have more there," Stavn said. "We still have a couple of athletes who are still trying to catch up due to injuries. ... I still believe our best race as a team is yet to come."
Davies, Grand Forks Central and Century were separated by a single point at last year's state meet.
"I'd still have to give Davies the nod, based on what I've seen this season. They finished the EDC with five girls in the top 10. ... It's going to be a battle," Stavn observed. "It's going to be a matter of who shows up and has all five runners run their best races of the year. ... We have yet to put together a solid five or six."
Freshman Erin Palmer, sophomore Emily Goldade, junior Aislin Anderson and and junior Liberty Howell finished fifth, sixth, 14th and 21st for CHS at the WDA meet. Sophomore Shalae Lindell, junior Hannah Dschaak and sophomore Makayla Anderson were bunched at 29th, 32nd and 34th.
"We have one senior on our (10-runner) state meet team, so we're fairly young," Stavn noted. "Our top four runners have quite a bit of cross country experience, but after that we're pretty raw."
In the individual competition, Stavn said Jamestown Meghan Ford is solidly entrenched at No. 1 on the basis of her season-long performance.
"Based on her times, she's been coming in close to a minute ahead. If she runs like she's been running all season, she'll be hard to beat," Stavn said.
Ford ran an 18:02.92 in the WDA meet at the McDowell Dam course. Runner-up Kayla Ogle of Watford City was clocked in 18:48.21.
Legacy's sat atop of the Class A coaches' boys poll before being bumped aside by Williston, 49-64 at the WDA meet. Williston started out the season as the poll leader.
"We had been ranked first this year for a few weeks, but Williston is currently ranked first," Legacy coach Andrew Reichenberger-Walz said. "When you look at their runners, they're a really, really good team. ... They had some injured runners, but as of the WDA meet they're a really good team."
The Coyotes, who placed second to Century, 60-64 at last year's state meet, have eight runners returning from that team, including four who finished in the top 20.
Seven Legacy runners ran on the Saber team that placed third with an 85 last fall. Seniors Isaiah Germolus, Carl Reis, and Grant Gader were among Legacy's counters last year, placing sixth, ninth and 26th, respectively. Other LHS state meet veterans are senior Luke Sorensen (63rd), junior Braden Will (33rd) and sophomores John Nell (32nd) and Aidan Hasby (166th).
Reichenberger-Walz said Legacy's No. 2 ranking is reasonable, but noted there's always uncertainty surrounding a state meet.
"It's realistic, but it will be challenging, as well. ... There are a lot of possible outcomes. Williston is a very strong team. If they're healthy, they will be very hard for anyone to beat," he observed. "I'm not saying (the Coyotes) are going to win, hands down, but they definitely stand out."
"Among Century, (Grand Forks) Red River, Bismarck High and ourselves it's very close. We've gone back and forth with those teams all year," he added.
Legacy's recent performances give Reichenberger-Walz reason for optimism.
"We're getting better every week. ... If you look at the whole season, we're getting better and better, so we've definitely been improving," he said.
Reichenberger-Walz said unbeaten Brady Yoder of Dickinson stands out from the crowd as a potential champion. However, he warns that Fargo North's Alex Luz can't be overlooked.
"(Yoder) has definitely shown so far that he's the top dog. He's been really strong in every meet," Reichenberger-Walz said. "One runner to look at from the East is Alex Luz. He hasn't faced off against the West runners. Luz is the state champion in the mile, and he was second in the two-mile. He's always a very competitive kid. ... And Sean Korsmo (of Bismarck) has been running really strong, too."