Fast start

Raelyn Pafford, Kennedy Pafford and Piper Johnson take off from the starting line at Thursday’s Poynette Invitational at Shepherd’s Meadow Golf Course, as the Pumas took first as a team in both the varsity boys’ and girls’ races.

It was a clean sweep for the Poynette High School cross country teams at the Pumas’ annual home invitational on Thursday.

Poynette topped the small schools’ division team standings in all varsity and junior varsity races for both the boys’ and girls’ portions of the meet, which took place at Shepherd’s Meadow Golf Course.

Girls

With five individual medalists, the Puma girls started things off on the right foot for Poynette, squeezing past Dodgeland by three points.

Freshman Piper Johnson paced Poynette with a fourth-place finish and a time of 22:30, while Junior Felicia Ritzke (10th) and senior Kennedy Pafford (11th) finished in the next group. It was the first varsity medal earned by Pafford.

The last two medalists were freshmen Mercedi Lapacek (13th) and Olivia Regan (14th), as Raelyn Pafford just missed out on a medal by finishing 16th and Morgan Small ended up in 22nd place for the Pumas.

“I was particularly impressed with how Olivia Regan ran in just her second high school race,” said Poynette Head Coach Kevin Frehner. “Olivia really pushed the middle parts of the race and helped carry her teammate (Lapacek) with her through some difficult parts of the race. Her aggressiveness will really allow her to continue to get better at racing as the season progresses.”

The JV girls earned a perfect score of 15 points, taking the top three spots in the JV race. Emma McGlynn was the winner and earned a medal for her performance, as Mae Larson and Maddie Lee took second and third, respectively.

“Mae Larson did a really nice job of continuing to press the pace as she moved through the difficult course,” said Frehner. “Another highlight of the JV race were seniors Maddie Morton and Ava Brickson, who improved by 52 seconds and 1:56 seconds on the same course last season.”

Boys

The Puma varsity boys turned in a dominant performance, collecting a low score of 26 points and winning by 47 points.

“Also, when small and large school teams were combined, the boys’ team was the winner of all 16 teams,” said Frehner.

Among the six individual medalists for Poynette, Tucker Johnson won his division with an impressive time of 17:22, the fastest time on record for a Poynette boy at the Pumas’ home invitational, according to Frehner.

Frehner said Trent Chadwick ran an impressive race (18:17) to finish in second place, as Trent Sickenberger (5th), Austin Kruger (8th), Carter Hansen (10th), and Lucas Prince (13th) also medaled for Poynette. Brady Wentz rounded out the varsity with an 18th place finish.

“Austin Kruger really ran a smart race and executed his plan very well,” said Frehner. “He decided to go out a bit more conservatively in the first mile and moved up very consistently over the last two. He also helped his teammates move up in the process. Lucas Prince has also shown a huge improvement over the last two seasons. He has made a mental leap to put himself with runners that he has not run with in the past.”

The JV boys team also won with a perfect score, capturing the top four places. The Pumas were led by winner Cash Stewart, who also earned a medal. Garret Johnson (2nd), Tanis Crawford (3rd), and Dominic Graeme (4th) were close behind.

“Tanis Crawford ran a much-improved race over the first two miles of the race before our difficult last mile caught up to him,” said Frehner. “He will keep getting better every week with that kind of mental effort. Wyatt McLaughlin also ran a much-improved race over last week at Cambridge.”

Frehner said that overall, the boys team improved by an average of 1:02 seconds over last season for those that ran the invitational.

Up next for Poynette is the Rio/Fall River Invitational on Friday.

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