State is goal for Janesville Craig cross county
Janesville Craig cross country. A tradition of excellence.
With 15 straight state appearances between the girls and boys teams, numerous Big Eight Conference titles, and a talented roster from year to year, Craig High can back up the claim.
The Cougar girls have qualified for the state meet nine straight years, and with six of their top seven runners returning, figure to make it 10 in a row. Craig finished second in the Big Eight meet last season and has been first or second in the conference 10 straight years.
“They expect to make it to state because none of the girls wants to be on the team that ended the streak,” Craig co-head coach Brian Lawton said. “That’s why they work so hard and train so hard.
“These girls know how to prepare, how to work and how to win. That’s a great combination in this sport.”
As talented as the Cougar girls are, they’re still a young team. Rachel Gilmore and Jill Castro are the only seniors among the top seven runners.
Gilmore, along with juniors Jessie Finnane, Stephanie Perleberg and Katie Bagley ran at state last year, along with sophomore Teryn Bordwell.
Juniors Danica Reinicke and Michaela Holzhuter, as well as sophomore Monica Speth, also are pushing for one of the seven varsity spots.
“Our top seven runners were separated by only eight seconds at the conference meet last year,” Lawton said. “That’s how close and competitive these girls are.
“And the best thing about this group is that not only are they good runners, but they’re good teammates. Everyone looks out for everyone else.”
The Cougar boys are the defending Big Eight champions, and they’re again loaded with talent.
Junior co-captain Tommy Meister tops the list of returnees. Meister had a breakout season in cross country and track last school year, and he figures to be one of the top runners in the state this fall.
“Tommy has a different gear, no doubt about it,” Lawton said. “But we’re deep enough that he’s being pushed.
“We’ve got at least 12 to 15 boys that are competing for seven varsity spots. It’s a very young, but very talented group.”
Craig’s boys team have ran at state five years in a row and return six of its top seven runners from last season.
Besides Meister, sophomores Spencer Hrycay, Hunter Salmon and Eric Paulos return, along with senior co-captains Ryan Fenrick and Sully Hrycay, and junior Joe Sarow. Junior Peter Carlson and senior John Weirich also are expected to be in the varsity mix.
“We always set the bar high for both teams,” Lawton said, “but so do the kids that are out. That’s what makes coaching so enjoyable.”
SEPTEMBER: 4— Verona Invitational, 9 a.m. 9—Hartland Arrowhead Invitational, 4:15 p.m. 14—Big Eight Grade Level Challenge, at Verona, 4:30 p.m. 25—Midwest Invitational (Blackhawk), 9 a.m. 28—Big Eight Five-Team Challenge, at Yahara Training Site, 3 p.m.
OCTOBER: 2—Racine Case Invitational. 5—Big Eight Triangular (w/Janesville Parker and Beloit Memorial, at Rockport Park. 16—Big Eight Conference meet, at Warner Park, Madison, 8 a.m.