Boys XC team makes a statement

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MTT News's picture
By: 
Rob Reischel
Photo submitted Middleton’s boys cross country team won the Big Eight Conference meet last Saturday. From left are Micahel Madoch, Braedon Gilles, Roman Ystenes, Peter Hoferle, Egan Johnson, Zach Leffel and Caleb Easton./Photo submitted

Better late than never.

That’s how Middleton boys’ cross country coach Brian Finnel looked at it.

Middleton, the WIAA Division 1 defending state champions, has had an up and down regular season. But at the Big Eight Conference meet last Saturday — with the Cardinals fully healthy for the first time in weeks — Middleton dominated its star-studded league.

Middleton finished with just 35 points and cruised past runner-up Madison West (59). Sun Prairie (104), Madison La Follette (132) and Madison East (134) rounded out the top five.

“Around the state the expectations are high for our boys’ team and we know we haven't quite hit those expectations most of this season,” Finnel said afterwards. “Some of it was by design, some it was due to illness or small injury setbacks, but moreover we didn't have our fastest seven altogether yet.

“We have developed some great depth and performed well at many meets. However missing some key people makes it tough to hang with other powerhouses from Wisconsin or even the Midwest.

“We came into conference ranked third (after being No. 1 throughout the year) and I believe that put a bit of a chip on our shoulder going into this meet. In general, we were very excited to race and ready to prove that people shouldn't count us out yet as the state's best team.”

Counting out these Cardinals would be foolish after how they performed at the conference meet. Finnel wanted his team to be aggressive from the start, and Middleton did exactly that.

“The plan for this meet was essentially to run with no fear,” Finnel said. “We weren't going to hold back and we wanted to control the race from the start. The course is narrow and with the mud, we didn't want to play catch-up in those conditions. The boys got out aggressive.”

Senior Caleb Easton, who committed last week to run collegiately at Northern Arizona, won the race in 15 minutes, 50 seconds. Roman Ystenes was second in 16:01.

“Caleb was sick for most of the week and I was extremely pleased with how he performed,” Finnel said. “He's on the upswing, but being sick and performing at this level shows it's going to be a fun last few weeks here.

“Roman is back to 100% after a nagging hip issue. We are hopeful that he is good to go for the remainder of the season and I know each day he will get stronger for this postseason stretch.”

Zach Leffel was sixth in 16:23, while Michael Madoch was 11th in 16:29 and Braedon Gilles was 15th in 16:36.

“Zach ran an awesome race and had showcased his speed in the last stretch passing West's number one runner at the finish line,” Finnel said. “Michael Madoch ran well and hung tough with the pack. I'm always impressed with his tenacity and I know it's going to be an exciting finish to his senior year. 

“Braedon had a solid race. He finished as our number five and snagged the last all-conference position.”

Middleton’s final two runners — whose scores didn’t count — also had big days.

Egan Johnson slipped and fell early in the race and briefly found himself in last place. But Johnson battled back and placed 16th overall (16:37.24).

“It was very impressive that he moved up and finished 16th overall,” Finnel said of Johnson. “That's a very good testament to his strength. He's a tough young man.”

And junior Peter Hoferle placed 20th overall, finishing in 16:46.15.

“Peter hung tough with the squad and he had a good race,” Finnel said. “To finish 20th in the best cross country conference in the state — in my opinion — that's impressive.”

Middleton now heads to the Madison West Sectional Saturday at Yahara Hills Golf Course. The boys race begins at 11 a.m. and girls start at 11:45 a.m.

“I was very proud of the boys,” Finnel said. “This was a big win for the team! It's been an unusual season to say the least, so this was important for the team confidence and I think this bodes well for things to come. 

“West is terrific and it's highly plausible we both take home team trophies in two weeks. So winning conference, and by a fair amount over them is impressive, but it also gives us some excellent momentum heading into the championship part of the season.

“It was a big statement win and I think that once again puts us in the conversation as (one of) the favorites to win state. We believe that we can win. Now we just need to execute these next two weeks and we know it's going to be tough.”

 

Team scores: Middleton 35, Madison West 59, Sun Prairie 104, Madison La Follette 132, Madison East 134, Janesville Craig 139, Verona 148, Madison Memorial 171, Janesville Parker 269, Beloit Memorial 299.

Top 10 individuals: 1, Easton, Mid, 15:50; 2, Ystenes, Mid, 16:01; 3, Bloomquist, JC, 16:09; 4, Francis, SP, 16:12; 5, Loetscher ME, 16:17; 6, Leffel, Mid, 16:23; 7, Gary, MW, 16:24; 8, Wolfe, MLF, 16:26; 9, Reed, MW, 16:28; 10, Nuenninghoff, MW, 16:29.

Team scoring

Middleton: 1, Easton 15:50; 2, Ystenes 16:01; 6, Leffel 16:23; 11, Madoch 16:29; 15, Gilles 16:36. 

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