Girls XC team hopes to breakthrough

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MTT News's picture
Rob Reischel
Middleton’s Lauren Pansegrau will lead the Cardinals’ girls cross country team this fall./Times-Tribune photo by Mary Langenfeld

Lauren Pansegrau experienced first hand what the state cross country meet is like last season.

This year, she’d like to bring some friends along. 

Pansegrau, a senior for Middleton’s girls cross, finished 31st individually at last year’s WIAA Division 1 state meet. Pansegrau then finished second in the 3,200-meter run at the state track and field meet.

Now, with the cross country season set to begin, Pansegrau’s dreams are large — and so are Middleton’s.

“This group of gals definitely has potential, more than they know they have actually,” said Middleton coach Alexa Richardson, whose team begins its new season Saturday at the Verona Invitational. “The girls know they have a chance to have a big breakthrough this year, which has really fired them up.”

Middleton finished fourth at sectionals last year and brings the majority of those runners back.

Pansegrau is the headliner after her breakthrough freshman season. As the racing season progressed, Pansegrau gained more and more confidence — highlighted by her second-place finish at state track.

“Lauren Pansegrau came off of an awesome track season,” Richardson said. “I believe that momentum and confidence is going to transfer well into this cross country season.”

Sophomore Erin Gonter was Middleton’s No. 2 runner at sectionals, finishing 19th overall. She also seems poised for a big second season.

“Erin is very passionate about cross country, and has worked hard all summer,” Richardson said. “I expect Erin to have a strong season.”

Senior Megan Schwartz was Middleton’s No. 3 runner at sectionals last year. Schwartz will be one of the Cardinals’ leaders on and off the trails this year.

“Megan is in a leadership role this year for the team and has been working all summer to not only improve her fitness, but to help the underclassmen improve their fitness,” Richardson said. 

Junior Kiara Malloy-Salgado and freshman Zaira Malloy-Salgado are two newcomers Richardson believes will make immediate impacts.

“They are new to the school and to the state,” Richardson said. “They have been training with the team all summer and have been awesome additions to the team.”

Junior Bella Chirafisi is a standout track and field athlete and has been a state swimmer. This year, though, Chirfisi is trying her hand in cross country.

“I’m extremely excited to watch her potential and strength compete with the best in the state,” Richardson said.

Sun Prairie and Madison West have been the top teams in the Big Eight Conference in recent years, and Richardson is expecting both squads to be tough again. The difference is Richardson now believes her own team has the firepower to make a run at the top of the league — as well as the state meet.

“With all of last year’s returnees and the addition of Bella, Kiara and Zaira, our team dynamic is much stronger than last year,” Richardson said. “Experience is key. We still have a very young team, however, this young team now has the experience and knowledge of what it takes to be the best. There is already a noticeable change in training and conditioning from last year to this year from all returning varsity athletes.”



Seniors: Elizabeth Engle, Megan McGill, Natalie McLain, Jena Peterson, Serena Raval, Ella Rogers, Megan Schwartz. 

Juniors: Vashima Ahuja, Bella Chirafisi, Ava Clark, Abby Evans, Leona Frinzi, Rose Giefer, Faranak Hermatti, Ashley Hornung, Grace Kalscheur, Vivian Lewandowski, Kiara Malloy-Salgado, Brielle McDonald, Kenzie Nickels, Lily Noak, Isabel Prohaska, Lexi Spevacek, Amanda Tung.

Sophomores: Natalie Ahn, Maria Batchenkova, Madeline Blust, Meghan Frantz, Abby Gessler, Erin Gonter, Cheyenne Halverson, Hannah Kasdorf, Mia Kim, Hayley Krause, Clara Landucci, Mia LaRico, Emily Lynch, Brooke Mendenhall, Lauren Pansegrau, Kailani Pardon, Maddie Ruszkiewicz, Lorna Smithberger, Julia Torresani, Abby White, Sami Whiteis, Nancy Williams, Grace Winkelmann, Adeline Ystenes, Polina Zvereva.

Freshmen: Jessica Bristol, Sarah Cushman, Ella Donner, Claire Drury, Megan Fritz, Sophia Gibson, Carlee Hull, Lauren Lamson, Zaira Malloy-Salgado, Sophia Mormino, Hannah Poehling, Sarah Robertson-Hoyt, Elizabeth Schwartz, Ari Shah, Annie Sonju, Isabella Starr, Lillian Steen, Ava Steiner.



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