3. Anna Fenske, Farmington (MN)
The third-place finisher in the Heartland region last year and the returning 22nd-place finisher at NXN as an 8th grader, Fenske's season actually got off to a relatively slow start. Two of her first three races ended in runner-up finishes and the third was over three and a half minutes slower than the 17:00 time which is her 5K PR.
But after picking up a few midseason wins and a third-place finish at Griak, she has looked decidedly stronger than last year in recent weeks. Even though she finished runner-up to Covert at the Minnesota State Championships -- albeit by a mere four seconds -- she was faster than the previous year when she won by a sizable margin.
As things currently stand, Fenske may be the athlete with the best chance of beating Covert on Saturday, and, like Ping, could play on her national experience to help her in that quest, but as long as Fenske is healthy and on her game, she'll safely be one of the competition's top five.