Meister, Janesville Craig face strong field
Can Tommy Meister end the home portion of his remarkable high school cross country career with one more memorable race?
That question will be answered Saturday morning as the Janesville Craig senior joins more 2,000 athletes in the Midwest Invitational at Blackhawk Golf Course.
Teams from four states will represent more than 40 schools in the 74th running of the nation’s oldest high school cross country meet.
The field features 10 state-rated boys teams, including the top-ranked teams in Divisions 1, 2 and 3. Hartland Arrowhead, the defending Midwest and state champion, is the No. 1-ranked team in Division 1, with Craig second. Wisconsin Lutheran is No. 1 in Division 2 and Darlington the top-rated in Division 3.
“This is as good of a field as we’ve ever had for both the boys and the girls,” Craig co-head coach Brian Lawton said. “When you throw in the likes of Houston MacArthur (Texas), Dubuque Senior (Iowa) and Lake Park (Ill.), this field is as good as you’ll see at the state meet.
“And it’s a great event for the community. It’s pretty special that Janesville gets to host something like this.”
Meister is the course record-holder with a time of 15:29 for the 5,000-meter race. He set the mark last year and will have stiff competition this year, including Arrowhead’s Russ Sandvold, the 1,600-meter champion at the 2011 state meet. Meister has not lost this season.
“For someone like Tommy, who has worked so hard to be a great athlete, and a great leader and great in the classroom, this is a big deal,” Lawton said. “From now on, every time he competes in an event, it will be the last time.
“I’m not predicting he will beat his time from last year, but with so many great runners pushing him, I wouldn’t be surprised if it happened. Tommy runs his best when he’s up against the best.”
Meister’s win last year marked only the eighth athlete a Janesville athlete won either the boys or girls race. Meister, along with Craig’s Josh Lund (2005, ’06), joined Janesville Parker’s Eric Stabb (1985) and Paul Licary (1992) as winners of the boys race.
Craig’s Jessica Berlowski (1992), Rebekah Bea (1993) and Kristen Goelzer (1990) won the girls race, along with Parker’s Marcie Schroeder (1986). Janesville resident Steve Sippy won the boys race in 1958, competing for Milwaukee Pulaski.
Berlowski is now Jessica Lawton and Craig’s co-head coach.
University Lake School’s Molly Seidel is the one to watch in the girls 4,000-meter race. The senior and defending Division 3 state champion, ran a 13:34 earlier this season at the Arrowhead Invitational, the fastest time recorded in Wisconsin state history.
What: 74th Midwest Invitational cross country meet.
Where: Blackhawk Golf Course,Janesville
When: Saturday (Freshman-sophomore girls, 9:15 a.m.; Freshman-sophomore boys, 9:50; Varsity girls, 10:25; Varsity boys, 11:00; Junior varsity girls, 11:35; Junior varsity boys, 12:10 p.m.; Middle school, 12:40; Awards ceremony, 12:55).
The field: Albany,Beaver Dam, Beloit Memorial, Darlington, DeForest,Delavan-Darien,Dodgeville/Mineral Point,Dubuque Sr. (Iowa), Elkhorn, Fond du Lac, Fort Atkinson, Hartland Arrowhead, Houston MacArthur (Texas),Janesville Craig,Janesville Parker,
La Crosse Logan, Lake Park (Ill.), Madison La Follette, Madison Memorial, Madison West, Mequon Homestead, Middleton, Milton, Milwaukee Marquette, Monona Grove,Monroe,Mount Horeb/Barneveld, Mukwonago, Neenah, Oregon, Platteville, Rockford Guilford (Ill.), Stoughton, Sun Prairie, University Lake School,Verona,Waukesha Catholic Memorial,Waunakee, Whitewater, Whitnall,Wisconsin Lutheran.
Defending varsity champions: Hartland Arrowhead, boys; Neenah, girls.