JANESVILLE

Ivy White has spent the better part of two years on the comeback trail.

The Janesville Craig senior had a chance to finish as one of the top girls cross country runners in the state as a sophomore, but the end of her season was derailed by mononucleosis.

A stress fracture and a groin injury prevented her from returning to top form last fall in cross country or in either of the past two spring track and field seasons.

On Tuesday, though, White took another step in showing that she’s back. She did it while celebrating an impressive day with her senior teammates at the Big Eight Grade Level Challenge at Rockport Park.

White finished second in the senior girls race, and four of her teammates finished in the next five spots behind her.

“I’m feeling so much stronger,” White said after turning in a time of 21:15.9 on a hilly course. “I feel so ready for conference and sectionals. I’m ready to be back.

“I feel so much better, and especially with this team. I missed them, because I didn’t get to run with them every day.”

The Cougars’ senior girls, as well as juniors Clare Hulick and Cambria Thompson, spent most of Tuesday’s race just a short distance from each other.

Sun Prairie junior Kate Kopotic won the race in 20:57.7, with teammate Hannah Ray the only other one ahead of White. Craig senior Maddy Arrowood was fourth in the race overall at 21:18.6, and Hulick and senior Lauren Shanks crossed with the exact same time, 21:45.1, to each take fourth in their respective grades.

Ellie Lorenz was fifth and Gabriella Petruzzello seventh in the senior race, while Thompson was eighth among juniors.

“To have five seniors recognized was awesome,” said Craig co-coach Jessica Lawton. “We want our best performances at the end of the season, but for our kids to go out there today and run like that on a challenging course was impressive.”

Craig’s teams finished with 11 individual medalists (top-10 finish).

Gabe Coleman turned in a time of 18:05.1 to take fifth in the junior boys field. Matt Dillon (18:30.5) was sixth in the senior boys race.

Rylee Coleman (fourth, 22:29.8) and Ema Frick (sixth, 23:45.3) medaled in the sophomore girls field.

Parker junior Aidan Schuh took seventh in 18:28.4 as the host Vikings’ lone medalist.

For the city’s top finisher, White, Tuesday’s meet was a chance to show she’s returning to a form she was not sure she would ever regain.

“I never thought that I’d be able to come back like this, because I was so sick,” she said.

Lawton said that for White to even return and be a counting runner on last year’s WIAA Division 1 state-qualifying team was impressive. And she has continued with her comeback attitude even despite another injury setback last spring.

“She’s just really, really tough,” Lawton said. “It shows a lot about her character and perseverance. She was willing to challenge herself again and again and again.”

And now White and the Cougars’ upperclassmen have set themselves up for a few more challenges.

They are ranked No. 17 in the latest state girls cross country rankings, and White said they have their sights set on another trip to state—and perhaps closing in on a sectional title.

“It’s a goal,” White said. “We’ll have to put in some work to reach it.”

Big Eight Grade Level Challenge

At Rockport Park 5,000 meters SENIOR GIRLS TEAM SCORES

Craig 21, Sun Prairie 58, Madison West 80, Madison La Follette 87, Madison Memorial 140, Madison East 149, Middleton 154

WINNER AND JANESVILLE MEDALISTS

Hannah Ray (Sun Prairie) 21:13.6, 2. Ivy White (Craig) 21:15.9; 3. Maddy Arrowood (Craig) 21:18.6; 4. Lauren Shanks (Craig) 21:45.1; 5. Ellie Lorenz (Craig) 21:57.1; 7. Gabriella Petruzzello (Craig) 23:07.8.

JUNIOR GIRLS TEAM SCORES

Madison West 46, Sun Prairie 55, Madison Memorial 68, Middleton 90, Madison La Follette 100

WINNER AND JANESVILLE MEDALISTS

Kate Kopotic (Sun Prairie) 20:57.7; 4. Clare Hulick (Craig) 21:45.1; 8. Cambria Thompson (Craig) 22:55.6.

SOPHOMORE GIRLS TEAM SCORES

Middleton 19, Madison West 41, Sun Prairie 98, Madison East 107, Madison Memorial 128

WINNER AND JANESVILLE MEDALISTS

Erin Gonter (Middleton) 22:14.0; 4. Rylee Coleman (Craig) 22:29.8; 6. Ema Frick (Craig) 23:45.3.

FRESHMAN GIRLS TEAM SCORES

Middleton 36, Madison West 37, Madison East 74, Madison Memorial 92, Sun Prairie 116

WINNER AND JANESVILLE MEDALISTS

Elizabeth Schwartz (Middleton) 22:11.0.

SENIOR BOYS TEAM SCORES

Madison La Follette 31, Madison Memorial 52, Madison West 71, Middleton 71, Sun Prairie 116

WINNER AND JANESVILLE MEDALISTS

Chris Wolfe (La Follette) 16:59.7; 6. Matt Dillon (Craig) 18:30.5.

JUNIOR BOYS TEAM SCORES

Madison Memorial 33, Sun Prairie 55, Middleton 61, Madison East 93, Madison West 120

WINNER AND JANESVILLE MEDALISTS

Karl Olson (La Follette) 17:06.1; 5. Gabe Coleman (Craig) 18:05.1; 7. Aidan Schuh (Parker) 18:28.4.

SOPHOMORE BOYS TEAM SCORES

La Follette 40, Madison West 57, Madison Memorial 78, Middleton 118, Sun Prairie 132, Janesville Parker 144, Verona 174, Janesville Craig 213, Madison East 268, Beloit Memorial 290

WINNER AND JANESVILLE MEDALISTS

Parker Noffke (La Follette) 18:03.8

FRESHMAN TEAM SCORES

Verona 25, Madison Memorial 64, Middleton 67, Madison West 111, Madison La Follette 118, Madison East 160, Janesville Craig 167, Sun Prairie 182

WINNER AND JANESVILLE MEDALISTS

AJ Ketarkus (Madison Memorial) 17:52.1.

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