Craig cross country eyes title run
Craig High, led by Tommy Meister, will be making its sixth straight state appearance at The Ridges Golf Course in Wisconsin Rapids. The Cougars, along with Hartland Arrowhead, have the most individuals returning who ran at state last year with five.
Although the Cougars cruised to the Oregon Sectional title last Saturday by placing five runners in the top 16, Meister continues to lead the way. The junior is unbeaten on the season, including a Midwest Invitational time of 15:29, which set a meet record on the 5,000-meter course and was within one second of Josh Lund's school-record 15:28, set in 2006.
Meister's 15:29 time is tops
in the state this season as he prepares to run at the Ridges course for the third straight season. He finished 21st last season in 16:36, but is running more than a minute faster this season.
Madison West's Sam Hacker is the highest returning finisher in Division 1 after placing seventh last year. Meister has defeated Hacker three times this season.
Could Meister become the first Janesville male to win a state title? Craig's Jody Rittenhouse won the girls individual title in 1977.
"Tommy's done everything right, and he'll be there with 1,200 meters left, no doubt about it," Craig co-head coach Brian Lawton said. "There are probably 6-8 guys that have a shot, and Tommy's in that conversation. As a competitive athlete, that's all you can ask for.
"He works so hard at being great, is a great leader, a great person and teammate, and is on top of his academics. I know he's itching to run."
Joining Meister at state for the second straight year are sophomores Spencer Hrycay and Hunter Salmon, junior Joe Sarow and senior Ryan Fenrick. Freshman Evan Lalor and sophomore Eric Paulos also will run Saturday for the Cougars.
Craig is ranked eighth in the Wisconsin Cross Country Coaches Association poll, but was as high as fourth earlier in the season.
"As coaches, it's important that they enjoy these moments," Lawton said. "That being said, this group is not happy with just getting there. They have goals for Saturday, and have set them fairly high all season.
"It's great to see this group reach their goals. They work so hard at being good at their sport, getting along as people and making it fun. To watch them get rewarded for those efforts is special."
Brookfield Central is the defending Division 1 boys champion, but top-ranked Madison West is heavily favored to dethrone the Lancers.
JUST THE FACTS
What: 98th boys and 38th girls WIAA state cross country meet for enrollment Divisions, 1, 2, 3.
When: Saturday (Boys—Division 3, 11 a.m.; Division 2, 11:40 a.m; Division 1, 12:20 p.m. Girls—Division 3, 1 p.m; Division 2, 1:40 p.m.; Division 1, 2:20 p.m.).
Where: Ridges Golf Course, Wisconsin Rapids.
Defending champions: Brookfield Central, Division 1 boys; Shorewood, Division 2 boys; Cedar Grove-Belgium, Division 3 boys; Wausau East, Division 1 girls; Pewaukee, Division 2 girls; Edgar, Division 3 girls.
Area qualifiers: Division 1 boys—Teams: Janesville Craig, Madison La Follette, Madison Memorial, Madison West, Middleton, Westosha Central. Individuals: Dan Sepe, Lake Geneva Badger, jr.; John Groat, Madison East, soph.; Jonah Weisse, Madison Memorial, soph.; Aaron Derner, Waterford, sr.; Riley Olson, Stoughton, sr.; Jacob Roe, Stoughton, soph.
Division 2 boys—Team: Monroe. Individuals: Ben Cipriano, Whitewater, sr.; Brett Harms, Whitewater, fr.; Sam Logterman, Delavan-Darien, soph.; Grey Davis, Lakeside Lutheran, jr.; Joe McKenna, Madison Edgewood, jr.; Dave Mott, Madison Edgewood, jr.
Division 3 boys—Team: Albany.
Division 1 girls—Teams: Madison West, Sun Prairie, Verona, Waterford. Individuals: Kara Reeves, Lake Geneva Badger, soph.; Alex Swartwout, Badger, fr.; Taylor Bauer, Fort Atkinson, jr.; Hanna Kuenzi, Fort Atkinson, jr.; Emily Schaal, Burlington, sr.; Sydney Hamilton, Wilmot, soph.; Sara Monson, Madison La Follette, sr.; Maranda Ricker, Oregon, soph.
Division 2 girls—Team: Madison Edgewood. Individuals—Geena Romani, Whitewater, soph.; Liz Mielke, Whitewater, fr.; Amanda Brom, Jefferson, sr.; Liz Smits, McFarland, jr.; Katherine Becker, Lakeside Lutheran, sr.; Alex Hein, Lake Mills, sr.; Sara Giese, Marshall, jr.
Division 3 girls—Team: Waterloo. Individual—Bailey Hlavachek, Albanym, fr.
Tickets: $6 (available at the gate).