Badger's Aaryn Edge, a senior runner on the cross country squad, took first place Saturday at the SLC meet.
October 19, 2011 | 07:22 AMKENOSHA — It's been a rough season for the Badger girls cross country squad.
Injuries and underwhelming times throughout the season kept the team's collective confidence at bay heading into Saturday's Southern Lakes meet at the University of Wisconsin-Parkside.
So suffice to say coach Stephani Reynolds wasn't expecting a victory.
But that's exactly what she and the team experienced Saturday.
It was close, but Badger edged Waterford by two points and Westosha Central by four to earn the SLC title.
"When the results were posted, the girls were surprised and very happy because it was such a close race. One of our goals was to get the conference championship. It was nice to see them reach their potential that they sometimes don't know they have."
Senior Aaryn Edge won the girls meet in a time of 16:04, a stunning 14 seconds ahead of the runner up.
"She has been not only a great leader, but she has her head on her shoulders and really knows what she wants," Reynolds said of Edge. "Since her sophomore year, she has wanted to win conference as a team and be the conference runner of the year. She finally achieved her goals, and I couldn't be more proud."
Badger enjoyed three other runners in the top 12, Alyssa Olsen (fourth, 16:26), Alex Swarthout (seventh, 16:35) and Maria Dillman (12th, 16:41).
"Olsen ran a really impressive race," Reynolds said. "She always comes on strong in the last mile. I really like how Olsen, Swarthout, Dillman and Karina Reeves have been running as a pack."
Also, Anna Kase, a junior, took 23rd place with a 17:05. Reeves was right behind her in 25th with a 17:06. Reynolds said it was the best she has seen Kase run."
For their efforts, Edge, Olsen, Swarthout and Dillman all received all-conference honors. Edge was SLC runner of the year, and Kase was honorable mention.
On Saturday, the boys and girls return to UW-Parkside for sectionals. Reynolds said the SLC title will give her girls confidence this Saturday.
Boys take third
Led by Tomas Pecha's third overall placement, the boys earned third Saturday behind Westosha Central and Waterford.
Pecha paced the pack with a 16:44, but was 15 seconds behind winner Casey Merrill of Westosha Central.
Boys coach Mike Butscher wasn't surprised by the team's performance.
"We were shooting for the top three," he said. "It was a nice reflection on the guys. We're still a young team. Our top three guys ran really well. We knew we would have our hands full as a team. We dug ourselves in a hole early, and it was an uphill battle."
Butscher said the team needed the fourth and fifth runners to step up for a better team performance.
Senior Dan Sepe was fifth overall with a 17:03, and Gavin Denecke took eighth with a time of 17:11. Pecha, Sepe and Denecke earned all-SLC honors.
"Denecke had the best race of the day," Butscher said. "It was a personal best for him by 40 seconds. He really came in with the right attitude."
Michael Cordes and Zach Aspinall rounded out Badger's five runners with times of 18:24 and 18:30, respectively.
Butscher said Pecha and Sepe have a chance at qualifying for state at this Saturday's sectional.
"I feel we will bounce back," Butscher said. "It's a loaded sectional with Tremper and Westosha Central. There are eight or nine really good teams."