The motto of Janesville Craig’s cross country program is a “Tradition of Excellence.”
Under co-head coaches Brian and Jessica Lawton, the program continues to shine.
And for three members of this year’s state-qualifying girls team, the motto can be extended to include a family tradition.
Peyton Sippy, Clare Hulick and Zoe Williams all had a mother or father that ran at the WIAA state meet for Craig.
Williams’ mother, Laura (Burke), ran three times at state. She was on the 1991 Division 1 state championship team, which included Jessica (Berlowski) Lawton.
Kevin Sippy, Peyton’s father, ran three times at state and helped the Cougars finished fourth his senior year in 1985.
And Clare Hulick’s mother, Tina (Bennett), was part of two state-qualifying teams in 1982 and 1983.
“I really think it’s an honor and our job to protect and continue what has been a great tradition at Craig,” Brian Lawton said. “And that’s what those three girls have done this season.
“They understand that there is a such a strong connection here to the great history of this program. And their parents were a big part of that.”
Peyton is the most accomplished of this year’s state qualifiers. The senior won the prestigious Midwest Invitational earlier this season and also captured the Big Eight Conference title. She joined her grandfather, Steve Sippy, in winning a Midwest Invite.
“My grandpa kind of started the whole generation in our family of running, and it got passed down from his sons and daughters to his grandchildren, to where now my cousins are running,” Peyton said.
“And with my dad, he’s been so great about getting me prepared for each and every race. We do most of our talking at home. When it comes to the race, he’s mostly there for encouragement.”
Lawton was quick to point out that running isn’t for everybody. He called running cross country “unique” but said often times athletes pick up the sport because a family member had success or because a sibling was involved at the same time.
Current sophomore Lauren Shanks said she joined the team mostly because her older sister, Kaitlyn, was part of the team as recently as last year before she graduated.
Hulick said she started running once she got old enough to realize how good her mom was at the sport.
“I wanted to follow in my mom’s footsteps because I knew how good she was,” Hulick said. “And when I started to get better at it, I realized it was a lot of fun, too.
“My mom doesn’t put any pressure on me. All she asks is that I try my hardest and go all the way through the finish line because every second counts.”
The “Tradition of Excellence” continues for Janesville Craig’s cross country program. This, year, it’s even a little more family-oriented.