MILWAUKEE — Watertown’s boys cross country team finished ninth while the girls finished 11th at the Wisconsin Lutheran Invitational held Friday at McCarty Park.
“This is the first time in many years that we have put seven guys under 18 minutes, yet finished ninth,” Watertown cross country coach Tim Gifford said.
“I guess it just shows the strength of this invite — and some schools held out runners with conference meets looming next week. Six of our seven varsity boys had career best races and nine of the 12 JVs did as well. We have had a stretch of about four weeks of practice that have been great. We told the kids Thursday, coming off the bye week, that they were ready for great performances. They responded very well, even in the cold, windy weather at McCarty Park.”
Senior Andrew Gifford finished seventh in 16 minutes, 15 seconds to lead the Watertown boys. Sophomore Greg Magnan (33rd, 17:01), senior Josh Woldseth (53rd, 17:32), junior Mitch Wackett (54th, 17:34) and junior Eric Wex (57th, 17:37) added to the Goslings’ 204 total. Junior David Butts (62nd, 17:44) and junior Adam Loeber (74th, 17:52) also ran for Watertown.
“Andrew got out very well in five minutes (flat) in the first mile in about eighth place,” coach Gifford said.
“This is something we stressed with him the last two weeks and really the last couple seasons. Get up front so you don’t need to play catch-up the entire race. He hung with the second group most of the race with two guys passing him the last 800. He picked off one of them right at the finish line to claim seventh overall in a new career best of 16:15. That time places him tied for fourth on the all-time PR list at WHS. Several top runners in the state did not run, but it was a tough field nonetheless.
“Greg also had a new PR by 15 seconds with a very strong kick passing numerous runners in the last 800 meters. Josh was the biggest, most pleasant surprise. He has gradually been improving since his freshman year, but this was his biggest jump by far. It was is first time under 18:00 and a PR by over 30 seconds. He was nearly a minute and a half faster than last year. Mitch had a PR as well in only his second time under 18, while Eric cut nearly 30 seconds and broke 18 for the first time ever. Adam also broke 18 for the first time, and did it with one shoe. David is still looking to regain his form from last year, but he has always been there at the end of the season.”
Junior Michaela Mueller (48th, 16:32), sophomore Emma Flegel (50th, 16:34), senior Taylor Naatz (57th, 16:54), freshman Erica Anderson (61st, 16:56) and junior Valerie Otto (68th, 17:50) scored as the Gosling girls finished with a 284 total. Senior Megan Brown (78th, 18:18) and junior Kristin Miller (82nd, 19:01) also ran for Watertown.
“On the girls side, Michaela had a PR by 50 seconds and really looks like the runner we saw as a freshman two years ago,” coach Gifford said. “We challenged her at Laser to run with the other three and she did. This week, I told her again that she has been training with them all season, she should have no problem racing with them as well. She and Emma ran basically the entire race together with Michaela out kicking her.
“Emma posted a career best and only her third time in the 16 minutes range. Taylor and Erica also ran together and broke 17. Those four will need to drop more time next week at conference, on the same course for us to be competitive. It was nice to see Valerie run again. She shows tremendous promise, but has been hampered all season by a leg injury. Her training is well behind, but she was able to PR anyway.
“Megan was a newcomer to the varsity race and responded well with a PR by over a minute. Kristin is running a bit tired and run-down. We will rest her a bit this week and try to see if she can bounce back Thursday.”
The Wisconsin Little Ten Conference meet will be right back at McCarty Park on Thursday with racing starting at 3 p.m. for the JV girls. The varsity girls start at 4:20 p.m.
“We will need to run a bit faster at conference to have any hope of moving up in the standings,” coach Gifford said. “With one of our deepest boys teams in years, we will still need to find another gear to catch the top three. It is a very well balanced conference. Cooney looks like a possible state qualifier as does West Bend West and Wisco may be one of the top three in the division. It will be a great race.”
Team scores — boys: Wisconsin Lutheran 78, Baraboo 101, Marquette 104, Wauwatosa East 123, Oconomowoc 135, Mukwonago 162, Arrowhead 180, Watertown 204, Wauwatosa West 269, Brookfield Central 275, Catholic Memorial 307, Pius XI 395, Bradley Tech 406.
Team scores — girls: Wisconsin Lutheran 69, Brookfield East 86, Arrowhead 87, Oconomowoc 98, Wauwatosa East 149, Wauwatosa West 152, DSHA 161, West Allis Hale 223, Pius XI 250, Baraboo 255, Watertown 284, Greenfield 351.