Meister runs away
The Janesville Craig junior blew away the boys field at breezy Warner Park for his first Big Eight Conference cross country individual title.
“It’s fun,” Meister said shortly after crossing the finish line in the 5,000-meter race in 15 minutes, 43 seconds. “We do have one of the hardest conferences in the state, I think. It’s cool to know that you can do that.
“It’s always seemed just out of reach in the past. Not this year.”
Madison West senior Sam Hacker finished second, 17 seconds back.
Meister took an early lead, lost it briefly on the first hill, then regained it and cruised to the victory to keep his unbeaten season intact.
Craig, the defending Big Eight champion, finished runner-up behind West. The Regents scored 25 points, taking five of the top nine spots.
The Cougars were a solid second with 56 points, followed by Madison La Follette with 95. Janesville Parker tied for seventh in the 10-team field.
The Cougars placed their first five runners among the top 20. Sophomore Spencer Hrycay was seventh in 16:33, while Hunter Salmon, another sophomore, finished 14th, freshman Evan Lalor was 16th and junior Joe Sarow placed 18th.
“Today was just perfect,” said Meister. “It was just a great day overall. As a team we ran great. We’re all peaking perfectly.”
Parker placed three in the top 30, led by senior David Tyler in 21st. Dane Tyler, a sophomore, was 28th and senior Taran Kobs was 30th.
“We’re very happy with second,” Craig co-coach Brian Lawton said. “Madison West is an incredible boys team. They’re the No. 1 team in the state for a reason.”
The West girls team was nearly as impressive, taking five of the top 14 places—including three of the top four.
Sun Prairie senior Elizabeth Berkholtz ran to her third straight individual title, winning the 4,000-meter race in 14:35. West’s Olivia Pratt was next, six seconds back.
Junior Michaela Holzhuter placed sixth in 15:31 to lead Craig, which finished fifth as a team. The Cougars’ Rachel Gilmore, a senior, and junior Katie Bagley were 15th and 16th, respectively.
Parker’s girls finished seventh and were led by sophomore Miranda Slaback in 23rd.
Holzhuter, in her first year competing in cross country, earned first-team all-conference honors as one of the top eight finishers.
“It felt good to get over with,” Holzhuter said, adding, “It’s real exciting.”
Meister, meanwhile, appears ready for a big finish that could result in Janesville’s first state title.
“He’s focused, he’s strong, he’s positive,” said Lawton. “He feels good right now.
“He had a fantastic race. To be conference champion in the Big Eight is a great accomplishment, as a junior especially. Nothing’s a given. He ran a great race today. He’s had a great season. He’s got two weeks left, and hopefully he continues his strong effort.
“There’s probably six to 10 guys that have a chance (to win state), and Tommy is definitely one of them.”