JANESVILLE — While it wasn’t a 5-peat the Sun Prairie girls cross country team still can be proud of its third-place finish at the 2019 Big Eight Conference Meet, held at Rockport Park in Janesville.
“We had a course in Janesville that is challenging, but plays well to our strengths,” said Sun Prairie head coach Matt Roe. “Our team had a really positive outlook on the course and race heading into the meet, and I think that helped us have so many great results.”
With four Top 15 finishes the Cardinals had a final team score of 60, but could not catch champion Middleton (41) nor runner-up Madison West (44).
“The varsity team finished third behind two of the best teams in the state in Middleton and Madison West,” saie Roe. “Looking at the team scores, we feel like we’ve closed the gap some on those teams from earlier in the season. Hopefully we’ll qualify for the State Meet as a team and get another chance to see how we can stack up against them.
“I believe if we get all of our girls to have their best runs on the same day, we can put ourselves in the mix with the top teams in the state.”
Middleton sophomore Lauren Pansegrau won the Big Eight title with a time of 18:04.6, dethroning Madison West sophomore Genevieve Nashold who ran an 18:14.9.
Again leading Sun Prairie was Kate Kopotic. The junior covered the challenging 5,000-meter course in 19 minutes, 14.7 seconds to place third overall.
“Kate Kopotic went out with the leaders for about the first mile. She then fell off those two (Pansegrau and Nashold) and spent the rest of the race in a gap between the leaders and the rest of the racers,” Roe said. “Mentally that’s a tough place to race for two miles. Kate learned some great things from this race that will help her going into the sectional and State Meets.”
Junior Dani Thompson finished ninth in 19:59.3.
“Dani learned some great things about where she’s at as a racer right now. She went out a bit hard and felt that in the latter parts of the race, however, she also showed that she can still hold on and maintain her effort even when she gets really tired,” said Roe. “Taking the difficulty of the course into account, this was Dani’s best finish of the season.”
Seniors Hannah Ray and Anna Boardman each added Top 15 finishes as well. Ray ran a 20:13.6 to place 11th, while Boardman crossed the line in 20:26.4 for 15th.
“Hannah Ray had another solid race. She’s progressed steadily through the season getting better each week. The coaches are excited to see what Hannah can do to finish off her high school career in the next couple of weeks,” said Roe. “Anna Boardman and Amber Hodges began the race together before Anna broke off. She ran a really hard-nosed race and was very competitive. Amber was able to put our team in a great spot as she rounded out our scoring as the fifth runner.”
Hodges finished in 20:43.6 to place 22nd.
Sophomores Grace Edwards (21:23.6) and Kennedy Schaefer (21:38.0) finished 33rd and 36th, respectively.
Sun Prairie will compete in the WIAA Division 1 Kettle Moraine Sectional at
Naga-Waukee Park in Hartland Saturday.
“We’re hoping for solid performances that will put the team through to the State Meet and build confidence for another race,” Roe said.
The girls race begins at 11 with the boys race to follow at 11:45 a.m.
BIG EIGHT MEET
At Rockport Park, Janesville
Team scores: Middleton 41, Madison West 44, Sun Prairie 60, Madison Memorial 99, Janesville Craig 119, Verona 146, Madison La Follette 219, Madison East 237.
Top 5 finishers: 1. Pansegrau, Mid, 18:04.6; 2. Nashold, MW, 18:14.9; 3. Kopotic, SP, 19:14.7; 4. Rohrer, MW, 19:27.0; 5. Greblow, MW, 19:28.1.
Sun Prairie: 3. Kopotic, 19:14.7; 9. Thompson, 19:59.3; 15. Boardman, 20:26.4; 22. Hodges, 20:43.6.