Ellie Lorenz, Maddy Arrowood, Lauren Shanks, Gabby Petruzzello and Ivy White are not only classmates at Janesville Craig, but they have all played vital roles as part of the city’s most acclaimed sports program.
The five seniors wrapped up their prep cross country careers Saturday by running at the WIAA Division 1 state meet for the third straight year.
Along with sophomore Rylee Coleman and junior Clare Hulick, the “fab five” made history with their most recent state appearance.
Craig’s girls cross country program is now the city’s all-time leader in state tournament appearances with 22. The previous mark of 21 was shared by the Craig boys and girls cross country teams, along with Craig boys golf.
Janesville Parker’s top two programs for state appearances are girls basketball and boys golf with 12 each.
Arrowood said upholding the tradition of running at state was at the top of the list for this year’s team, especially the seniors.
“It was a super big deal to get back to state,” Arrowood said. “That’s why we trained so hard over the summer.
“To get back to state for the third straight year is crazy. It has been unbelievable and so much fun. And what’s really cool about the whole thing is that we’re now the best team performer in school history.
“As a freshman, I wasn’t even sure I was going to do cross country. But here I am now with one more race left, and I can’t imagine doing anything else.”
The Craig girls finished 16th at Saturday’s state meet.
In the previous 21 state appearances, Craig’s top finish was a D1 state title in 1991 and a third-place finish in 2008.
Jessica Lawton ran on the 1991 state championship team and just wrapped up her 19th season as the program’s co-head coach.
She said this year’s team was special because of the energy, leadership and work ethic provided by the seniors.
“They’ve set the standard as student-athletes,” Lawton said of her seniors. “They’ve been building toward this season for four years and were determined to carry on our great tradition of running at state and representing our great school. And it happens in the classroom, as well. They were academic all-state last year with a combined GPA of 3.75.
“In our sport, it has to come from them. They have to want it. The ongoing success of our program has a lot to do with our student-athletes wanting to be a part of it. We’re taking 48 kids up to state with us, and a lot of that is due to the leadership and enthusiasm those seniors had for our program and getting kids interested in being a part of it.”
As sophomores in 2017, Lorenz, Arrowood and Petruzzello ran on Craig’s state team that finished fourth.
Their teammate, Peyton Sippy, was the individual champion.
Lorenz said the first state experience in 2017 was special, but getting back there was paramount.
Led by the senior girls, the VCTC—Vista Cruiser Track Club—was a Monday-Friday staple during the summer for current and incoming Craig cross country participants, along with a number of middle school runners, as well. The group met at Palmer Park, and for the senior girls, the weekly workouts resulted in putting on 25-30 miles per week rain or shine.
“It really came down to, more than anything, getting back to state one last time and pushing ourselves to see how far we could go,” Lorenz said. “We knew it was our senior year, so we wanted to put it all out there.
“I know my mindset and the team’s mindset was to work as hard for each as other as we could. And if we got to state, see how high we could place.”