Jefferson wins RVC girls
WHITEWATER — In order to win the Rock Valley Conference crown, the Jefferson girls needed to accomplish two goals.
The first was to finish as many Eagles as possible in front of the fifth East Troy runner to cross the line. The second was to break up the East Troy pack that had its eyes on a top-five finish.
Jefferson achieved both of those objectives, and junior Mariah Linse finished in first place of the girls race with a time of 19 minutes, 56.3 seconds as the Eagles scored 56 points — four less than East Troy — to win the Rock Valley Conference girls cross country meet hosted by Whitewater at UW-Whitewater on Thursday.
The Whippets took fifth place in the girls race with 138 points.
The McFarland boys team, which is ranked eighth in the state according to Wisconsin Cross Country Coaches Association rankings, won the meet with 30 points. Jefferson took second with 64 points, and Whitewater took third with 91 points.
“The day went about as well as it could have gone,” Jefferson coach Megan Carstens said. “For the girls, we prepared to leave it all out there; run with no regrets. We had some tactical moves that we were making because we knew we had to do a few things in order to win the title.
“Any time you’re running for a title, you’re feeding off of each other and running with extra momentum.”
That momentum helped freshman Makenzie Hottinger break up the three-runner pack East Troy routinely runs near the top 10. Though the pack runs at a faster pace than Hottinger is accustomed to running, Carstens urged her to do it for the team.
“I was trying to get out there in the front and keep up there with that pack,” Hottinger said. “It was different because I went with a different pack and trying something new isn’t easy. I just learned to keep up with them, and it went well. It tells me that I can push myself a little harder each race, and I know that I have more in me.”
Jefferson also needed a complete race from more than just its top-five runners whose times count for scoring. The Eagles needed their sixth and seventh runners to push the fifth East Troy runner down further in the scoring.
Jefferson senior Callie Morrison had a strong showing in the fifth spot taking 17th place with a time of 21:59. Morrison had been out with an injury, but was able to hold off a McFarland runner by 1.3 seconds.
“They came out and ran their hearts out. They gave it everything they had,” Carstens said. “She outkicked a girl at the end and left it all out on the course. It was an exciting day.”
The boys team and junior Ryan Nelson each took second place. Nelson finished with a time of 17:24.1. McFarland junior Andrew Pahnke finished in first place with a time of 16:57.6.
“Andrew seems unbeatable right now. I’m excited to see how he does at state, personally,” Carstens said. “McFarland is untouchable, so it was between East Troy, Whitewater and us. For us to take second by this margin was big for us.”
Jefferson had four runners earn all-conference accolades. Ian Sande (17:56.2) took seventh place to earn first-team honors, Alex Marin (18:02.1) took 11th place and Logan Dzielinski (18:06.5) took 13th place to each earn second-team honors.
“I’m super happy to run with all of those guys,” Sande said. “It’s really more than a team, it’s a family. I’m super happy to run with these guys. It’s a wonderful experience.
“Today was a great success, we have sectionals and state and we feel good going into that.”
The Whippets used the boys conference race as an experimental race to test pacing for runners. Whitewater took fifth place place with a score of 138.
“We experimented with some runners running at different paces tonight to see where they stacked up for sectionals,” coach Chad Carstens said. “I think it worked pretty well in some areas. A lot of strong things happened, but there’s room to improve for everyone.”
The Whippets were pushing runners to key on faster runners than they would normally key off of. The strategy led to four runners being recognized as all-conference finishers.
Senior Allisan Barrett was the top runner for Whitewater finishing in third place with a time of 20:19.3. Barrett finished behind Brodhead/Juda freshman Madelynn McIntyre after defeating McIntyre at the last race they ran against each other.
“For (Allisan) to still finish in the top three was still a great race for her,” Carstens said. “She would have liked to beat her, but she still ran a really strong race and looked good.”
Whitewater had two girls earn all-conference honors.
Both Jefferson and Whitewater will next compete at WIAA Division 2 sectionals at CamRock Park #2 on Oct. 21.
ROCK VALLEY CONFERENCE MEET
Boys team scores — McFarland 30; Jefferson 64; Whitewater 91; East Troy 107; Brodhead/Juda 138; Beloit Turner 151; Evansville, Edgerton 166; Clinton 229; Walworth Big Foot 297.
Top finisher — Pahnke, McF, 16:57.6.
Jefferson — 2, Nelson, 17:24.1; 7, Sande, 17:56.2; 11, Marin, 18:02.1; 13, Dzielinski, 18:06.5; 31, Ellifson, 19:35.5.
Whitewater — 6, Korf, 17:56.1; 8, Zahn, 18:00.1; 16, Brunner, 18:20; 22, Coburn, 18:49.4; 39, Zheng, 19:50.9.
Girls team scores — Jefferson 56; East Troy 60; McFarland 85; Brodhead/Juda 111; Whitewater 138; Evansville 179; Clinton 196; Edgerton 203; Walworth Big Foot 208; Beloit Turner 209.
Top finisher — Linse, Jeff, 19:56.3.
Jefferson — 1, Linse, 19:56.3; 7, Hottinger, 20:52.2; 15, Jurcek, 21:45.1; 16, Kammer, 21:49.4; 22, Wichman, 22:23.3.
Whitewater — 3, Barrett, 20:19.3; 19, Tomomitsu, 22:08.1; 27, Chan, 22:39.8; 30, Prager, 22:47; 59, Lee, 25:45.5.