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Badger boys, girls shine at SLC meet

October 20, 2010 | 08:29 AM
Kenosha — Back on Oct. 2, Badger freshman girls cross country runner Alex Swarthout had a coming out party with a first-place overall finish at the University of Wisconsin-Madison Invite.

Then, on Saturday, Swarthout proved her breakout performance was no fluke. Although she has been the No. 4 runner all season, Swarthout flew through the University of Wisconsin-Parkside trails for a first-place finish at the Southern Lakes Conference meet. Her blazing time of 15:52 was a full nine seconds ahead of the next closest competitor.

With top runners Tristan Sproul (stress fracture) out and Aaryn Edge battling through bronchitis, Badger coach Stefani Gustafson needed someone to take charge.

"I've been telling her to step up all year, and she listened," Gustafson said of Swarthout. "She used to think she didn't belong on varsity as a freshman. She didn't even realize she could do it."

Badger placed second at the meet with 58 points, 24 behind front-running Waterford. Gustafson said it was better than she expected.

"Nobody really ran their best races," Gustafson added. "It was kind of a slow race. With Tristan in the mix, it may have been a different story."

Karina Reeves was Badger's second runner, finishing fourth overall with a solid time of 16:03. Maria Dillman took 15th in 16:57, and Edge, who had been Badger's top runner all season before becoming sick, took 16th with a time of 16:58. Gustafson admired the determination of Edge.

"She really struggled," Gustafson said of Edge. "She was battling a pretty severe case of bronchitis and was pretty sick. I am proud of her."

Ellie Adams, another freshman, took 23rd overall with a time of 17:13. And freshman Alyssa Olsen rounded out the Badger runners in 17:22, good for 27th place.

Gustafson said she will know by Thursday or Friday if Edge can run in sectionals Saturday at UW-Parkside. She added that Sproul currently is doing pool workouts trying to strengthen her shins. Sproul has developed a stress fracture from excessive shin splints. At sectionals, the top two teams make state, and the top five individuals from non-qualifying teams advance. Gustafson said both are a possibility.

"Alex has a chance to make state individually," she said. "We would need Aaryn and Tristan healthy for a shot at team state. Right now, we're struggling a bit, but anything can happen Saturday."

Boys take third

The boys featured three runners in the top 10 Saturday at the SLC meet at Parkside.

As a team, they placed third with 63 points, behind first-place Westosha Central (37) and Waterford (49). Coach Mike Butscher said he was proud of his squad.

"We were hoping for first," he said. "But we ran as good as we could. We had to tip our hats to Westosha and Waterford. All three of us had three runners in the top 10, which is uncommon. Their four and five runners were better than ours."

Captain Dan Sepe paced the boys with a time of 17:01, good for third overall. C.J. Morris took seventh overall with a 17:17, and Thomas Pecha grabbed 10th with a 17:22. The talented trio earned all-SLC honors.

Mitchell Jensen (21st, 18:05) and Michael Cordes (22nd, 18:08) earned honorable mention all-SLC thanks to season and personal best times.

Corey Nevin, who was battling a stomach illness, landed in 25th overall with a 18:22. Ezra Packard nabbed 28th overall with a 18:25. Finally, freshman Gavin Denecke took 29th in 18:33, the best outing for a freshman at the meet.

"I'm most impressed with how guys challenged themselves," Butscher said. "Our guys found a way to do well. I challenged them all year, and they did exactly what we asked them to do. I'm really proud of them."

Butscher said the top two teams at Saturday's sectional at Parkside will be Kenosha Tremper and Westosha Central.

"We need to run our best race and go for personal records," he said. "We might be able to sneak into state as a team. We are ripe for a great race because we really know the course. Sepe and Morris have a good chance for individual state."

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