The competition was tough and the races were close at the Tri-County Invite in Black River Falls Monday.
The top three girls team battled it out for the championship, but Black River Falls came out in first place in a race where they, second-place Arcadia and third-place Melrose-Mindoro were separated by just five points.
“It was very good competition — close team scores all around,” said BRF head coach Steve Markee. “It was a beautiful night (with) fantastic weather.
“It was very good competition — very even teams.”
The meet championship was the first for the BRF girls in several years, and the team’s first three runners finished in the top 11. Sophomore Mickealla Stenulson had a “breakout” performance by taking fifth overall in 18 minutes, 46 seconds.
Mel-Min’s top two runners — Anna Morabito and Macy Craig — finished in third and fourth places, respectively, to lead the way for the Lady Mustangs. Morabito finished in 18:20 and Craig in 18:25.
Black River Falls’ next three runners ran in a close pack to help the team score. Senior Taylar Dalbec, who’s recovering from an injury, took 10th in 19:21, junior Karly Tennant was 1th in 19:26 and sophomore Kyla Rave finished in 13th in 19:32.
Senior Hattie Bucek rounded out the Tiger girls’ scoring in the No. 5 spot in 17th place (20:01).
Mel-Min’s No. 3 runner was sophomore Avery Aasen in 14th place in 19:40, senior Tiana Mikel took the team’s No. 4 spot in 18th place in 20:10 and freshman Marissa Sime rounded out scoring in 23rd place (20:47).
Other BRF runners competing at the race were freshman Madison Markee (27th, 21:09), senior Paige Fisher (28th, 21:13), sophomore Natalie Gawron (35th, 22:45), sophomore Abbigail Mueller (51st, 27:52) and sophomore Amanda Maracek (52nd, 32:55).
“We have a strong group of girls and the top ten runners have changed their order from week to week,” Steve said.
“This helps to push each of them, making the whole team get better.”
Mel-Min had seven other runners competing at the meet, including senior Brianna Kowalsky (24th, 20:56), senior Sam Kriesel (25th, 20:58), sophomore Emily Oehler (29th, 21:49) and senior Allison Gerdes (37th, 23:00). Sophomore Lexi Ruffi (42nd, 24:19), Ariel Hestekind (45th, 25:34) and sophomore Bailey Hines (47th, 25:46) also competed.
Lincoln’s Kandi Shramek took 43rd in 24:21 as the lone Hornet girl competing.
The BRF girls won the meet with 50 points, Arcadia followed with 53 and Mel-Min had 55. Blair-Taylor took fourth (62) and Whitehall was fifth (154).
Black River Falls (103) took fourth to come in just ahead of the Mel-Min boys (135), who took fifth in the seven-team boys race.
Tiger senior Tonie Johnson took a fifth-place overall finish in 18:42. Junior teammate Justice Blackhawk, who was running his first meet of the season, and senior John Holty were the team’s No. 2 and No. 3 runners, respectively. Blackhawk was 19th in 20:09 and Holty took 20th in 20:23.
Senior Chaz Churchill was 29th in 21:05, and junior Eric Markhardt rounded out scoring for the Tigers in the team’s No. 5 spot in 32nd place in 21:43.
Other BRF runners competing were freshman Roberto Bernabei-Grassi (33rd, 22:05), freshman Evan Lane (38th, 22:22), senior Michael Dobson (40th, 22:37), sophomore Zach McJoynt (44th, 22:54) and freshman Randall Wentzel (46th, 22:57). Junior Devin Newby (62nd, 27:25) and senior Christian Schmitt (66th, 29:02) also competed.
“The boys are running well, but we need to move our pack up in time quite a bit to be more competitive,” Steve said.
The Mel-Min boys were led by junior Jacob Bryhn, who took 11th place in 19:35. Junior Derek Blaken and sophomore David Bjorge took 22nd and 23rd places, respectively, with Blaken finishing in 20:33 and Bjorge in 20:34.
Freshman Isaiah Dolbier and sophomore Caleb Waldera rounded out the team’s scoring in the Mustangs’ No. 4 and No. 5 spots. Dolbier took 45h in 22:54 and Waldera 47th in 22:59.
Other Mustangs running were freshman Ryan Whitacre (51st, 23:42), senior Andy Marciulonis (58th, 25:35), freshman Jonah Kowalsky (61st, 26:59), freshman Griffin Murray-Benzing (69th, 31:05) and freshman Nathan Bennett (70th, 33:55).
Lincoln’s Johnathan Forsting took a 21st-place finish in 20:28, and teammates Donny Risch and Jaryd Rowekamp finished in 57th and 65th places, respectively. Risch finished in 25:11 and Rowekamp in 28:15.
The Cochrane-Fountain City and Blair-Taylor boys squads tied at 39 points for the top meet spot, but C-FC was the champion because its No. 6 runner finished better than the Wildcats’ sixth runner.
Gale-Ettrick-Trempealeau was third with 75 points. BRF and Mel-Min followed, Arcadia was sixth (154) and Eleva-Strum (177).
Tigers at Marshfield
The Black River Falls girls took sixth and the boys 10th of 16 teams at a meet at Marshfield Sept. 10.
“We had some ups and downs tonight,” Steve said.
Rave was the Tiger girls’ top runner in 21st place of 98 runners in 18:05. Stenulson was 23rd (18:19), Dalbec was 35th (18:57), Ciara Johnson was 42nd (19:07), Bucek was 52nd (19:29), Jamie Pennekamp was 58th (19:38) and Fisher was 63rd (19:50).
“Our girls have a deep team this season with 10 runners within less than two minutes of each other,” Steve said. “There has been a lot of switching of positions between runners with that many girls that close.
“They are pushing each other and making the team stronger.”
Johnson led the boys in 14th place of 97 runners (18:27), Holty was 43rd (19:46) and Markhardt was 78th (21:36). Bernabei-Grassi took 79th (21:39), Churchill was 80th (21:43), Lane was 87th (22:18) and Dobson was 88th (22:23).
“(Johnson) wasn’t feeling well during the race but fought back to finish strong,” Steve said.
Black River Falls is scheduled to travel to an invite at Osseo-Fairchild Thursday, Sept. 26.
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