Pecha, Edge earn victories in backyard
|Aaryn Edge won the Badger Invite with a time of 15:54.|
September 21, 2011 | 07:17 AMLast Thursday at the Badger Invite, the Badger cross country squads showed opponents they are a force to be reckoned with this fall.
The girls cruised to victory, besting second-place New Berlin West by a considerable margin of 44 points. Also, the boys nabbed second place with 47 points, only 18 behind front-running New Berlin West.
Along with strong team scores, both the boys and girls featured individuals winners. For the boys, junior Tomas Pecha won with a personal-best mark of 16:46, two seconds ahead of New Berlin West's Chase Robles.
"I told Tomas it's real special to win a meet," boys coach Mike Butscher said. "Wins are rare. Tomas really used his turns to gap the other runners. And he had a great finish in the last 100 yards. I feel good about where the team is heading. We're pretty fired up, but we know we have a lot of work ahead of us."
On the girls side, Aaryn Edge won with a time of 15:54, a solid nine seconds ahead of Milton's Mandi Speer.
"Edge has really been impressing me as a leader," girls coach Stephanie Reynolds said.
Badger placed five runners in the top 11, including Alex Swarthout (seventh, 16:31), Alyssa Olsen (eighth, 16:38), Maria Dillman (10th, 16:50) and Karina Reeves (11th, 16:54). Also, Molly Kleeman won the junior varsity race with a 17:00 and earned a spot on varsity for Saturday's Muskego Invite. Reynolds said Kleeman is coming on strong as a freshman.
Overall, the Lady Badgers are persevering despite competing without one of their top runners, junior Tristan Sproul, who was visibly sick at the Badger Invite.
"Our times keep improving each week," Reynolds said. "The girls have been working hard to get back to where they were last year. We seem to be plagued with injury and sickness, and I keep reminding the girls that they can get through it. It is going to take a lot of mental toughness and hard work, but we will get there. A lot of girls are stepping up to the challenge in place of Sproul."
Stephanie Espinosa earned a top-20 finish last Thursday, taking 18th with a 17:10.
Boys battling sickness
At the Badger Invite, the boys placed three runners in the top 10 despite missing their fourth runner, Michael Cordes, who is out with a hip injury, and Dmitri Chironis, who was sick.
Senior Dan Sepe, an individual state qualifier last year, took third overall with a solid time of 17:18. Also, Gavin Denecke placed 10th overall with a time of 17:55. Butscher said he feels like his boys are heading in the right direction.
"There are some really good SLC teams," he said. "But I like our attitude and work ethic. These guys have really been a joy to coach."
Greg Happ took 16th with an 18:38, and Mitchell Jensen was right behind him by two-tenths of a second. Also, freshmen Derrick Buntrock, Jacob Besenhofer and Jacob Pierce took 19th through 21st.
"The freshmen will only get better," Butscher said.
The squads face a tough test Saturday at the Muskego Invite, which will feature 16 teams including Waterford, Kenosha Tremper and Kenosha Bradford.
"It's a fast course, and there is good competition," Butscher said. "Our goal is improving. We want our first and fifth runners within a minute of each other. We are ready for a big meet. Also, we want our pack under 17:45."
At the Badger Invite, the first through fifth boys runners were within nearly two minutes of each other.