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Onalaska's Kora and Lydia Malecek

Onalaska’s Kora Malecek, right, and sister Lydia Malecek start the girls race during the MVC meet at Maple Grove Venues in rural West Salem on Thursday. Kora won the overall race and the Hilltoppers the team title.

WEST SALEM — The Onalaska High School girls cross country team won its second consecutive MVC cross country team title on Thursday, but it wasn’t all on the shoulders of the Malecek triplets at Maple Grove Venues.

Sure, sophomore Kora Malecek claimed the individual title with a time of 18 minutes, 59 seconds, but the Hilltoppers put three runners in the top four and six in the top 12 for a team score of 21.

It’s also the second straight individual title for Malecek after her winning time of 19:15 as a freshman. Malecek started with the lead and ended the race with a bigger one.

“I don’t ever count myself as the winner until I cross the finish line,” Malecek said. “I could be a quarter-mile ahead of someone and not count it as a win until I cross the finish line. Even during the end, I could hear people cheering, so I knew I had to keep going.”

Central put three runners in the top 10 but finished a distant second with a score of 65.

“This year, I’m less concentrated on me and how I do; I’m more concentrated on how the team does,” Malecek said. “It wouldn’t mean anything to me if my team didn’t win.”

Malecek even put a vocal emphasis on the team, and they stepped up to win for the fifth time in program history.

Lydia Malecek finished third (19:56), Ellie Smith fourth (20:08), Aubrey Clements sixth (20:15) and Amailia Malecek seventh (20:15) for the Hilltoppers.

“I think the girls are maturing together as a group … so, their demeanors change, they become much better at handling situations like this,” Onalaska coach Darin Shepardson said. “That group of girls are all talented runners. At the end of the day, if we have those top seven and compressing the gap, that’s what we’re looking for.”

The non-Onalaska first-teamers are Tomah’s Hannah Wilcox-Borg (second, 19:23) and Logan junior Greta Trapp with a fifth-place time of 20:14.

Wilcox-Borg made the MVC first team for the second-straight year while Trapp jumped seven spots from last year’s race.

The top three runners for the Red Raiders were senior Jane Pinkowski (eighth, 20:44), senior Megan Degenhart (ninth, 20:45) and freshman Lily Wehrs in 10th place (20:53).

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Zach James can be reached at zjames@lacrossetribune.com of via Twitter @ZacharyWJames

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