Runners prepare for Midwest Invitational
The interstate cross country meet is believed to the oldest in the United States, attracting teams from four states this year.
The Midwest Invitational began in 1931 under the direction of legendary Pat Dawson—the former Janesville High School athletic director and coach. The event was not held during 1942-1948 because of World War II, making this year’s race the 72nd. Girls began competing in the event in 1979.
This year’s prestigious event is scheduled for Saturday morning at Blackhawk Golf Course in Janesville. The girls varsity 4,000-meter race is slated for 10:25, followed by the boys varsity 5,000-meter race at 11.
A total of 1,800 runners from 35 high schools are expected to compete, along with 400 middle school runners.
“It’s a pretty amazing event when you consider that 2,200 kids will be running at some point on Saturday,” Janesville Craig co-head coach Brian Lawton said. “And based on state rankings, you can see it’s a meet that most of the top teams want to compete in.
“Anybody that hasn’t had a chance to come down and see what an incredible event this is should stop down Saturday. We are always honored to host this event.”
Neenah is the defending boys champion and is entered in this year’s field, while Lake Park. Ill., will look for its third straight girls title and ninth overall.
Although the boys and girls individual champions from a year ago graduated, there will be plenty of talent on hand—especially on the girls side. Hartland Arrowhead senior Gabby Levac is the defending Division 1 state champion, while Waukesha Catholic Memorial’s Lauren Holtz is the reigning state champion in Division 2.
The Milwaukee Marquette boys are the top-ranked school in Division 1 and will compete in the Midwest, along with the top-ranked Division 2 Dodgeville/Mineral Point girls and the second-ranked Division 1 Mequon Homestead girls.
“One of the neat things about this year’s race is the fact that all the boys team champions since 1990 are in this year’s field, and all the girls team champions since 1995,” Lawton said.
“You have the two fastest runners in the state this year in Marquette’s Jake Erschen and Madison La Follette’s Abdou Seye in the boys race, and two defending state champions on the girls side. That’s quite a field.”