Conditions weren’t ideal for a run at The Ridges Golf Course in Wisconsin Rapids Saturday, Oct. 9. The air was foggy and the ground was soggy as the Sun Prairie cross country teams lined up to run. This wasn’t a day to set personal records as the slippery conditions would surely add time on. Still, the Cardinals ran hard and left the event with some impressive finishes.
The junior varsity girls stole the show. The five ladies claimed the top five spots, securing an easy team win for the Cardinals. Gretchen Bedner finished 1st with her time of 22:24.4, followed by Nyllah Comstock in 2nd with a time of22:39.6 and Brooke Marchewka in 3rd with her time of 22:55.4. Mickey Griffith took 4th with her time of 23:10.3 and Sophie Erickson rounded out the top five with her time of 23:20.4.
The JV squad finished with a perfect team score of 15, running away with 1st place. Darlington was the next closest in 2nd with 75 points. Sauk Prairie rounded out the top three with 88 team points.
“There is nothing easy about running at the front, but they made it look easy,” Sun Prairie co-head coach Megan Nelson said. “They were strong and confident even in the quiet sections of the course. I am so proud of how they competed and pushed themselves and each other physically and mentally today. Gretchen Bedner in particular raced like a veteran runner, looking strong, relaxed and smooth at the beginning and really put in some great moves to decisively take the lead.”
Bedner wasn’t Sun Prairie’s only winner on the day. Boys varsity runner Mateo Alvarado Venegas also took home first place. His time of 15:50.1 was four seconds better than 2nd place. Ben Marshall was Sun Prairie’s next highest finisher in 15th place with his time of 17:32.9. Outside of those two, it wasn’t an exceptional day for the rest of the Cardinals.
Sun Prairie finished in 5th place with a team score of 147. Stevens Point took 1st with a team score of 33 thanks to having four runners finish in the top 10. West Salem claimed 2nd with 110 points and Marshfield was 3rd with 118.
“It takes a lot of confidence and bravery to compete to win,” Nelson said. “Mateo executed his race plan throughout the entirety of the race today. He really took the next step in asserting himself as the top competitor that he is.”
It was a much better team performance for Sun Prairie in the girls varsity run. There, Reagan Zimmerman led the way. JoJo Knauss led the way. Their time of 20:17.1 earned them 3rd overall. Not far behind were teammates Grace Kline and Natalie Johnson. Kline finished 16th with her time of 21:25.4 and Johnson was 18th with a time of 21:27.9. Shaela Elert had a nice run as well, taking 23rd place with her time of 21:48.9.
Their efforts were enough to earn Sun Prairie 2nd place with 95 team points. Wisconsin Rapids Lincoln won the event with four top-20 finishers which equaled out to 86 team points.
In the boys junior varsity race, it was hard to claim anything high as Stevens Point brought a very strong team. Stevens Point runners claimed 17 of the top 20 spots in the race. Somehow, Sun Prairie managed to sneak two top-20 finishes in there amongst the dominance. Cole Dwyer was the fastest Cardinal with a time of 18:56.6 to finish 16th. Not far behind was Ashton Yager in 19th with a time of 19:08.2.
In all, Sun Prairie finished with 103 team points, good enough for 5th place. Obviously, Stevens Point won the event with 15 team points. West Salem claimed 2nd with 74.
This race wraps up the regular season for Sun Prairie. Next up is conference, which comes on some familiar terrain. The Big Eight conference run will take place Saturday, Oct. 16 at Sheehan Park in Sun Prairie.