Jillian Weston

Viroqua senior Jillian Weston competes in the cross country invitational hosted by River Valley, Saturday, Sept. 8.

The Viroqua cross country teams were anxious to get back into racing competition last week in preparation for their upcoming race in Hawaii, after their last two meets were cancelled due to heavy rain and flood events in the area. The harriers traveled to Spring Green, Saturday, Sept 8, and ran on the course at the Spring Municipal Golf facility.

The VHS girls placed fifth in a field of 14 teams, while the boys finished seventh among 19 teams, both in the small schools division.

“River Valley always puts on a great meet,” coach Scott Benzing said. “There were about 40 schools in attendance and tons of fans at every corner of the course and there were plenty of talented teams…we were happy to finally be back racing, we hadn’t raced since August 25th.”

Boys

“The boys had a great meet,”Benzing said. Four runners showed significant improvement from their performances in the same race last season. Sophomore Andrew Quackenbush led the Blackhawks placing 23rd in a competitive field, turning in a personal best time of 18:30, which was 12 seconds faster than his 2017 mark on the same course.

Senior Sam Urch (20:23) also achieved a personal best slicing 40 seconds off his time from last year. Junior Josh Frye (19:16) cut his time from last year’s race by a full minute and sophomore Aaron Dobbs (19:32) shaved 25 seconds of his time in the same race last fall. Michael Stuber (19:14), a VHS senior, placed 38th, and sophomore Henry Roels was within three seconds of a personal best mark finishing the course in 20:08.

Girls

Senior standout Jillian Weston, who has been nursing an early season ankle injury, competed in her first race of the season, placing eighth with a time of 20:53.

“We held her (Jillian) back a little to give her a chance to test everything without re-injuring herself by going too fast too soon,” Benzing said.

Fellow senior Lauren Brendel continued her strong start to the season placing ninth right behind her teammate with a time of 21:01. Caitlin Fox (22:24) was 26th, Josie Dobbs (22:29) 27th and Katrina Koppa (23:38) 59th rounded out the Blackhawks top five.

Another bright spot at the race according to the veteran coach was the performance of senior Xana Leum.

“Xana had one of the best races I’ve seen her run in a long time, she also improved on her time from last year and is getting stronger every-day,” Benzing said.

The VHS teams departed in the early morning hours of Wednesday, Sept. 12, for their trip to the island of Oahu, Hawaii to compete in the Iolani Invitational Sept. 15.

The Blackhawks have made the trip every four years since 2006 thanks to an invitation from North Crawford High School graduate James Rubasch, who has been coaching the sport in Hawaii since 1987.

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