Big workouts don't hold back Panther runners
St. Croix Central coach Bill Emery was worried that a week of hard workouts leading into last Thursday's New Richmond Invitational would leave the Panthers with little energy for the race.
The Panthers may not have been at their most crisp, but there was enough energy left for the Panther boys to earn the meet championship. They narrowly edged out Ellsworth and Amery. Central's boys finished the meet with 81 points followed by Ellsworth with 85 and Amery with 86.
Central's girls placed eighth among the 10 teams that had full lineups for the meet.
Central senior Brett Johnson ran away with the boys meet championship, quite literally. He won the race in 16:14. The second place finisher, Cam Tyberg of Glenwood City, was more than a minute behind Johnson.
Emery said he was convinced Johnson was running well when Johnson passed the pace bike twice during the meet.
With Johnson, Stephen Brunshidle and Alex Halvorson all finishing within the top 11 runners in the race, the Panthers were in good position for the win. They were helped by a move up by sophomore Brett Briggs. He took a big bite out of his time to place 23rd in the meet.
Emery was also pleased with the fifth and sixth runners for the boys team, Jon Mielke and Andrew Skala, who finished 39th and 41st.
It turned out that the hard work of the week may have had more of an effect on the Panther girls than it did on the boys. Freshman Courtney Kramer, who'd been a top 10 runner in her first two meets, dropped back a bit, finishing 17th.
The big exception to a drop among the girls was freshman Hope Hoolihan. She appeared to get stronger from the week's hard work. She moved up to be the Panthers' second runner, placing 34th among the girls.
"All of the girls showed glimmers of the speed I'm looking for," Emery said in reviewing the girls' performance.
The Panthers' string of big meets continues this Saturday when they run at the Osceola Invitational.