When you think of high school cross-country competition in mid-September in Wisconsin, you normally think of cool crisp days with temperatures in the upper 60s and low 70s. Not so on Thursday, Sept. 14, when the Viroqua boys and girls teams participated in the high-powered Holmen Invitational, featuring some of the best high school programs in the area.
The Blackhawks not only faced some of the toughest competition on the course thus far this season, but also challenging weather conditions with temperatures in the low to 90s on the Holmen 5,000-meter course.
Both teams struggled, with the boys placing fourth in a five-team field and the VHS girls finishing fourth among four of the best teams from around the Coulee Region.
The boys ran together throughout the majority of the race with all seven runners finishing within 14 places of each other. Michael Stuber (20:15) was the top Blackhawk runner placing 17th, followed by Aaron Dobbs (20:37) 20th, Henry Roels (21:29) 22nd, Jackson Roels (21:53) 24th, Joshua Frye (22:17) 27th, Sam Urch (23:21) 28th and Ethan Leis (25:16) 30th. Only the top five runners scores count toward the team total, with the Blackhawks finishing with 110 points.
In fact, most of the teams appeared to utilize the run-as-a-pack strategy, with team champion Arcadia, 23 team points, placing four runners in the top five spots individually. Second-place Holmen, 32 team points, had all five runners place in the top 10, third-place Hillsboro’s runners were bunched between 11th and 21st place, totaling 79 points and Royall’s 151 team total resulted from individuals placing from 26th through 33rd places.
Arcadia senior, Ramon Romero, outclassed the rest of the competition and was the only runner to eclipse the 17-minute mark with an amazing 16:40. Holmen’s Kade Steinbrecher was a distant second with a time of 18:09.
The Lady Blackhawk runners faced the same weather conditions as the boys on their 5,000-meter course, finishing with a team total of 67. Host Holmen won the event with 40 team points, Hillsboro was next with 55, followed by Arcadia’s 61 and Viroqua 67.
Jillian Weston continued her streak of finishing either first or second individually in every race this season, placing second with a time of 20:28, just 3.5 seconds off the pace of meet winner Mason Kalander of Holmen.
Josie Dobbs, 23:43, ran an excellent race, with her best finish of the season placing fourth. Madelyn Anderson also had her best placing of the year, 17th, with a time of 25:20. Cayleigh Smith 21st in 27:17 and Xana Leum 23rd in 28:17, rounded out the Blackhawks top five individual finishers. It was the first time this season that Leum’s finish was among the top five for the Blackhawks’ team score.
Lauren Campbell (28:54) and Jonica Rider (31:37) rounded out the Blackhawks competing at the meet.
Looking ahead, the Blackhawks harriers close out the September portion of their schedule competing at Fennimore on Sept. 23 and at the Spring Brook Golf Club Course near Wisconsin Dells on Sept. 29.