Somerset, St. Croix Central runners end their seasons on an upswing
Not every team or runner can advance to state, but the St. Croix Central and Somerset runners can look back fondly at the end of their 2012 cross country seasons.
Nearly every Panther and Spartan runner achieved the best times of their season during the Barron Division 2 Sectional Cross Country Meet last Friday.
The St. Croix Central boys were the top finisher among the local teams in the sectional meet, taking fourth place. The top two teams in the sectional meet advance to this Saturday's WIAA State Cross Country Championships in Wisconsin Rapids.
Central and Somerset were both hoping to make an impact in the boys race. From the start it was clear that Northwestern was going to be the boys champion, but Central was hoping to challenge for the second state berth from the sectional. The Panthers finished with 152 points, short of the 103 points scored by Ashland to take second place.
Central's boys ran with one of the tightest 1-5 packs in the meet. Senior Brett Briggs was the Panthers' top finisher, with a career-best time of 18:03 to place 23rd. Sophomore Max Kaul was the Panthers' fifth runner, placing 39th. Between them were Jordan Bringgold, Nathon Madlung and Nathan Bringgold.
"I'd say they all dropped at least 20 seconds," said Central coach Bill Emery.
The Panthers graduate three runners from their varsity lineup in Briggs, Nathan Bringgold and Andrew Skala, all of whom were strong leaders this season. Don't be surprised if the Panthers are back as a factor in the sectional race next year. Along with a promising group of returning runners, the Panther eighth grade boys team dominated its meets and those boys could fare well next season.
Somerset's boys were able to place eighth among the 14 teams on Friday. The Spartans were running without sophomore Andrew Thurmes, their top finisher in the Middle Border Conference Meet, who was out with a foot injury.
The Spartans were led by freshman Brandon Mondor, who finished under the 18-minute mark at 17:59, putting him 21st overall. Three of Somerset's top five runners on Friday were freshmen, with Ethan Baillargeon placing 48th and Cole Harty taking 55th. Harty's finish was a major advancement from his previous times.
"Knowing he was improving so much, we asked him to try to hang on with Ethan and (Keenan) Strom and he did it," said Somerset coach Julie Mocadlo.
Sandwiched between the three freshmen were three seniors. Josh Verdeja was Somerset's second runner, placing 38th, Strom placed 53rd and Emmitt Foster placed 59th.
Mocadlo said that, with four of their top six runners returning, the Spartans have the nucleus to be more of a factor at the sectional level next year.
"If they put in the time in the summer, they can show a lot of improvement," she said.
Central's girls came up with one of their finest performances of the season to place 10th among the 15 teams competing in the sectional meet.
"Our girls did terrific. They all ran extremely fast," Emery said.
Junior Courtney Kramer led the Panthers, finishing in 16:57 to place 29th. Hope Hoolihan, Lauren Moll and Ella Scott all ran strong races as the next three Panther runners. Abbie Webb, the only senior in the Panther lineup, was the team's fifth runner.
Somerset's girls placed 12th in the sectional meet. Leading the Spartans was Grace Becher, who placed 21st with a career-best time of 16:43. Becher is the only senior in the Spartan lineup.
Mocadlo said she sees stronger possibilities for the rest of the Spartan girls for next season.
"If they put more time in (next summer), maybe they can be where Grace was this year," she said.
The Spartans had their season banquet on Monday and their team awards were announced. Named as the Most Valuable Spartans were Becher and Verdeja. Harty was selected as the Most Improved Spartan. Foster received the Spartan Award.
2012 Barron Division 2 Sectional Cross
Boys team scores: Northwestern 38, Ashland 103, Unity-Luck 118, St. Croix Central 152, Amery 155, Hayward 170, St. Croix Falls 207, Somerset 215, Baldwin-Woodville 243, Rice Lake 244, Barron 244, Osceola 279, Bloomer 286, Spooner 352
St. Croix Central finishes
23. Brett Briggs 18:03; 26. Jordan Bringgold 18:16; 31. Nathon Madlung 18:16; 33. Nathan Bringgold 18:17; 39. Max Kaul 18:25; 58. Andrew Skala 19:17; 62. Logan Nelson 19:24
21. Brandon Mondor 17:59; 38. Josh Verdeja 18:25; 48. Ethan Baillargeon 18:43; 53. Keenan Strom 18:59; 55. Cole Harty 19:09; 59. Emmitt Foster 19:22; 83. Austin Headlee 20:58
Girls team scores: Northwestern 57, Rice Lake 61, Amery 116, Osceola 124, Bloomer 148, Ashland 150, Hayward 184, Baldwin-Woodville 190, St. Croix Falls 224, St. Croix Central 276, Barron 300, Somerset 306, Spooner 354, Cumberland 384, Unity-Luck 387
St. Croix Central finishes
29. Courtney Kramer 16:57; 42. Hope Hoolihan 17:25; 60. Lauren Moll 18:14; 64. Ella Scott 18:27; 81. Abbie Webb 19:10; 86. Ashley Kopacz 19:34; 91. Mckenzy Johnson 20:24
21. Grace Becher 16:43; 66. Yosselyn Moncada 18:31; 69. Carrie Kulibert 18:37; 71. Kat Ryther 18:48; 79. Maggie Becher 19:06; 95. Laura Smith 20:48