After going 20 years without winning an invitational, the Tomah High School boys cross country team has won two in 21 days.

Tomah individuals took places three through six to win the Jesse Parker Invitational Tuesday at Hiawatha Golf Club. The Tomah girls finished fifth out of six teams and were led by Hannah Wilcox-Borg, who placed second.

It’s the second invitational title in seven races for the Tomah boys, who won at Neillsville Sept. 12. Tomah coach Jon Heesch said the boys ran hard and were “determined to defend home turf.”

“We were racing against some bigger schools and strong teams, and it was great for the boys to be able to show they belong out there with those bigger teams,” Heesch said.

The Tomah boys were led by senior Trevin Nelson, who ran the five-kilometer (3.1-mile) course in 17 minutes and 45 seconds and finished third.

Tomah swept places four through six with Caleb Lenning (18:12), Eric Tollefson (18:25) and Coy Nelson (18:36). Eugene Peterson was eighth (18:40), Shandii Begay was 12th (18:58) and Matthew Holtz was 19th (19:25).

Westby’s Hayden Fredrickson won the race in 16:58, and Bryce Daniles of Chippewa Falls was second in 17:24.

Team scores: Tomah 26, Chippewa Falls 55, Westby 91, Wautoma 118, New Lisbon 118, Reedsburg 123, Necedah 208, La Crosse Logan 235.

On the girls side, Wilcox-Borg was locked in a tight race with Westby’s Julianne Call for the runner-up spot during the first two miles before pulling away in the final mile. Wilcox-Borg’s time was 20:16, 13 seconds behind race winner Ella Behling of Chippewa Falls. Call’s time was 20:32.

Tomah’s other runners were Brooke Lucka (23:23), Brielle Harmel (23:58), Brooke Bakken (24:54) and Kyrie Ambrosia-Brown (32:56).

Team scores: Westby 17, Chippewa Falls 45, Reedsburg 68, Wautoma 108, Tomah 113, Necedah 157.

Heesch said his girls continue to work hard and improve.

“The girls all ran hard tonight after having run really fast times last Friday night,” Heesch said. “They put forth a solid effort ... I am proud of how they continue to race really strong this season. They continue to compete and stick their noses right in there and mix it up with the other girls. The girls have been improving with each race.”

The boys also got a strong effort from their junior varsity runners, two of whom flirted with the 20-minute barrier. Weston Boettcher led the jayvees with a time of 20:03, and Jesse Smith was close behind in 20:07. Both finished in the top half of the combined varsity-junior varsity field.

Tomah’s other junior varsity runners were Micah Winchell (20:43), Charlie Ella (22:03), Daniel Swanson (22:06), Thor Lass (22:06) and Sabin Koss (22:49).

Heesch said conditions weren’t conducive to personal bests like they were four days earlier during a meet at Wisconsin Dells.

“The course had rolling hills and was a bit slick due to the little bit of rain we had and was slightly different due to construction at Hiawatha,” Heesch said.

Only three meets remain on the schedule. The Timberwolves travel to the Wisconsin Rapids Invitational Saturday, followed by the Mississippi Valley Conference meet Oct. 12 and the WIAA Division 1 Menomonie Sectional Oct. 21.

“Both the girls team and the boys team have their eyes on the next couple of weeks for the meets that carry a little more weight,” Heesch said. “We are looking forward to putting all of the hard work to the test at conference and sectionals.”

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Steve Rundio is editor of the Tomah Journal. Contact him at 608-374-7785.

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