Craig girls roll to Big Eight Cross Country title
So all that was left was to beat them all at the same time, which the Cougars did here Saturday in the conference meet at Pleasant View Golf Course.
Craig cruised to a 49-point win over Madison West with a 39 total for five runners. That gave the Cougars their first first conference championship since 2002, but they haven’t finished below second place since 2001.
“The coaches keep telling us that (Craig hasn’t) been conference champions since we were in third grade,” Cassidi Running of the Cougars said. “So it’s been kind of a goal for us.
“It’s going to be a real confidence booster going into sectionals,” she said of an event that comes up next Saturday at Stoughton.
Running finished fourth in the conference meet with a time of 15 minutes, 29 seconds over the 4,000-meter course. She was followed quickly by teammates Rachel Gilmore, fifth at 15:32; Megan Muhs, seventh, 15:43; and Stephanie Perleberg, ninth, 15:56.
All seven Craig runners finished in the top 25, with Regina Griffith in 14th place at 16:12, followed by Jessie Finnane, 21st, 16:24.39; and Katie Bagley, 23rd, 16:27.
Janesville Parker’s girls team was sixth with a 149, led by Brooke King in 12th place with a 16:05.
Sun Prairie’s Elizabeth Berkholtz beat defending champion Maggie Bollig from Middleton by 0.13 seconds for the top spot. The winning time was 15:00.
Going against one of the toughest fields in the state, the Craig boys team finished fourth with a 104 behind second-ranked Madison West at 39, two-time defending state champion La Follette at 55 and Sun Prairie with a 99.
“As a team, they didn’t have their best race today,” said Craig coach Brian Lawton of his Cougar boys. “Hopefully, with two weeks left in the season, we can pick it up.”
Parker’s boys were ninth with a 228, led by Duncan Brose with a 17:29.77.
A real positive for Lawton’s boys was a strong showing from freshman Tommy Meister, who placed 11th with a time of 16:58, nearly a minute faster than anyone else in his class.
“We had some great individual performances,” Lawton said. “This is clearly the best boys conference in the state, so to have a freshman finish 11th is impressive.”
Ryan Ahrens finished fourth with a 16:23 for the Cougars’ fastest time.
“I knew a lot of work had to be done to get the top spot,” Ahrens said. “I ran hard, the hardest I’ve ever run in my life, and I know that I’m happy with how it turned out.”
West’s Brett Kelly (15:48.59) beat out Madison La Follette’s Alex Brill (15:57.89) for the conference title.