VERONA — As the season progresses the competition gets stronger and stronger for reigning WIAA Division 1 state runner-up Sun Prairie girls cross country team.
Saturday’s Verona Invitational is among them.
The Cardinals earned a sixth-place finish with 146 points in the Girls’ Varsity 5K race.
“The competition was amazing,” said Sun Prairie head girls coach Matt Roe. “This is definitely the strongest field we will see in the first half of the season; three of the state’s top four teams were at the meet and did not disappoint.”
Madison West, led by meet champion Genevieve Nashold, edged Onalaska by one point to earn the team title. Middleton, Lincoln-Way Central (Ill.) and Madison Memorial rounded out the Top 5, with Sun Prairie next.
“Madison West looks outstanding, led by Genevieve Nashold who ran a smart and tactically strong race. Onalaska has their three talented junior triplets. They returned all of their top seven runners from last year’s third-place team. Middleton has the best group of newcomers that have transformed their squad. And Madison Memorial finished one spot in front of us and has a very similar team to ours in the way we race,” said Roe.
Kate Kopotic again led the Lady Cardinals’ way, finishing fourth with a time of 19 minutes, 12.2 seconds.
“She ran a balanced race and was able to move up a few places over the course of the race,” Roe said of Kopotic.
Placing 13th was junior Dani Thompson, who ran a 19:57.5.
“Dani Thompson was once again strong as our second runner. She is showing a lot of confidence this fall,” said Roe.
Finishing in a pack were Sun Prairie sophomore Grace Edwards (40th, 21:02.4), and seniors Amber Hodges (42nd, 21:07.4) and Anna Boardman (47th, 21:12.1).
“Grace Edwards once again had a huge PR and was out third runner this week, she looked really strong over the last half of the race. Amber Hodges and Anna Boardman once again rounded out our scoring top five, both with season best times.
Autumn Dushack and Hannah Ray were unable to finish the race.
“We had a lot of great races from our team on Saturday. Almost every girl who finished the race ran a season best, including 14 lifetime PRs. We benefited from some fairly good racing weather and a course that was in great shape.
Nashold’s winning time was 17:39.5.
Sun Prairie competes again this Saturday in the Rocket Invitational hosted by South Milwaukee. Defending state champ Muskego headlines the field.
“Most of the schools we face are from the Milwaukee area so it’s a nice change for us,” said Roe.
Racing begins at 10:50 p.m.
Team scores: Madison West 64, Onalaska 65, Middleton 81, Lincoln-Way Central 140, Madison Memorial 144, Sun Prairie 146, Verona 223, Wisconsin Dells 228, Oregon 246, Monona Grove 262, Fort Atkinson 329, Watertown Luther Prep 359, McFarland 366, Beaver Dam 372, Baraboo 384, Platteville 408, Stoughton 439, New Glarus/Monticello 472, Mauston 495, La Crosse Aquinas 521, Monroe 521, Whitewater 675.
Top 5 runners: 1. Nashold, MW, 17:39.5; 2. K. Malaceck, ONA, 17:52.6; 3. Pansegrau, MID, 18:39.8; 4. Kopotic, SP, 19:12.2; 5. Rohrer, MW, 19:18.2.
Sun Prairie: 4. Kopotic, 19:12.2; 13. Thompson, 19:57.5; 40. Edwards, 21:02.4; 42. Hodges, 21:07.4; 47. Boardman, 21:12.1.