Whenever a team posts 31 personal records, it’s a good day.
At the Midwest Invitational – held at Blackhawk Golf Course in Janesville on Saturday – the Waunakee cross country team did just that, setting new best times left and right.
(Blackhawk Golf Course)
“We had 22 boys achieve new lifetime personal records, and nearly all that ran on Saturday had their season best times…” said Waunakee’s Head Coach Heather Raffel. “Our girls had 9 new personal records and a lot of very close to hitting personal records.”
On the boys’ side, a handful of Warrior runners had been pushing up against the 18-minute barrier, but none were able to break it early in the season. That ended Saturday; four runners – Drew Regnier, Baylor Smith, Coleson Lincoln and Todd Niles – finished in under 18 minutes to lead the team.
“They worked together through most of the race, out a little faster and were able to hold their times through the back end fairly well,” said Raffel. “They were in tight spots due to the number of runners, so I’m thinking that with a little less traffic, their times might have even been faster on that course.”
In a large meet, the boys finished 23rd out of 40 teams with 665 points. Regnier led the way in 104th place out of 274 runners, crossing the line in 17:33.3. Behind him were Smith in 136th (17:56.6), Lincoln in 139th (17:57.6), Niles in 140th (17:57.6) and Evan Voge in 151st (18:04.1). With Alex Korth’s 18:17.7 and Paul Busse’s 18:43.6, six of the seven varsity runners set new season-best times.
Waunakee’s girls mirrored the boys’ success; they too had six of their seven varsity runners set their best time of the season, despite the race being an unusually crowded one.
“There seemed to be a bit more congestion, and normally our girls are pretty close to one another at the onset of the race,” said Raffel. “This time, the number of racers was making it somewhat difficult for them to see each other.”
Still, the girls turned in fast times, led by a 16th-place finish out of 238 runners by Emma Bertz in 19:37.8. Kelsey King and Anna Vanderhoef weren’t far behind, crossing the line in 70th (20:52.2) and 78th (20:56.2), respectively. Jordyn Jarvi and Brinley Everson rounded out the scoring for Waunakee; Jarvi’s time of 21:13.9 was good for 94th, while Everson’s 21:50.2 took 132nd.
As a team, the girls finished in 13th place among 35 teams with 377 points.
Warren Ambord also turned in a fine performance in the separate Blue Race, jumping 20 spots in the final two miles to cross the line in a time of 21:19.9 to finish ninth.
Waunakee’s fast times continued throughout the day, with JV runners contributing significantly to the 31 personal-best times on the day. With the Badger North Conference meet just over two weeks away, success up and down the roster bodes well for Waunakee’s hopes to go four for four at conference: winning both the varsity and JV races for boys and girls.
“Our runners are greatly motivated by their recent improvements. I have no doubt we have the depth to take JV conference titles for boys and girls again…” added Raffel. “There are inside competitions going on for places and PRs, but it is effectively making our team stronger.”
The Warriors were scheduled to be back in action on Tuesday at the Portage Invite, but inclement weather forced a postponement. Waunakee runs next on Saturday at the Stoughton Invite; start time is scheduled for 9 a.m.