Girls XC team racing to state

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MTT News Desk's picture
By: 
Rob Reischel
Middleton’s Sam Valentine finished third at the DeForest Sectionals and helped propel the Cardinals into Saturday’s WIAA Division 1 state meet./Times-Tribune photo by Mary Langenfeld

 

This certainly wasn’t a surprise.

But that didn’t make it any less exhilarating.

Middleton’s girls cross country team was the consensus favorite at last Saturday’s WIAA Division 1 DeForest Sectional. And the Cardinals lived up to their billing by winning the sectional.

Middleton finished with 51 points to edge runner-up Sun Prairie (54). Madison Memorial was third with 87 points, while Madison West (92) and Beaver Dam (124) rounded out the top-five at the 12-team sectional.

Middleton qualified for Saturday’s WIAA Division 1 state meet, which will be held at the Ridges Golf Course in Wisconsin Rapids beginning at 12:40 p.m.

“We knew it wasn't going to be easy to make it to state as a team,” Middleton sophomore Sam Valentine said. “But our goal was to go into the race with confidence, knowing we've beaten Sun Prairie and Madison West this season, and maybe that would shake off some of our nerves.”

Cardinals senior Delaney Foster agreed.

“Yes, I was nervous for sectionals, but I wasn't anxious,” she said. “I felt ready to run my best and I knew my team was ready as well. We had hard workouts leading up to the big races, like conference, sectionals and state, and our team always performs well.”

Middleton certainly performed well at sectionals.

Valentine continued her big season by finishing third overall. Valentine completed the 4,000-meter course in 14 minutes, 55 seconds — 15 seconds behind champion Katie Hietpas of Sun Prairie.

“I'm very excited about both my performance and the team's,” Valentine said. “Leaving the meet with an individual third place, a personal record, and our team as sectional champions was a very pleasant surprise.”

Foster had a terrific day, as well, finishing seventh individually in 15:27. Foster missed her entire junior season of track with a stress fracture, so making it back for the cross country season has been a huge thrill.

“I am very happy with my performance,” Foster said. “After coming off of a stress fracture … I have had a hard time coming back. I didn't want this to be my last race, so I went after it hard and left it all on the course.”

So did her teammates.

Junior Rachel Wians was ninth overall (15:34). Junior Bobbi Patrick was 11th (15:44) and junior Jenny Phillips was 21st (16:15).

“Every girl ran a gutsy race and maintained good position throughout the run,” Middleton co-coach Cindy Bremser said. “Sam (Valentine) ran another P.R. and ran with confidence with the top runners for a large portion of the race.  

“Delaney Foster, Rachel Wians and Bobbi Patrick all went under 16 minutes, and our fifth runner, Jenny Phillips was only one place behind Sun Prairie’s fifth. (Three) points is close, but the girls were prepared for that and it was good enough for the win and accomplish a season goal.”

Now, the Cardinals will shift their goals to the state, where Middleton finished fourth a year ago. The Cardinals have six runners back from that team, and will be aiming high again.

“We all seem to have different goals for the team,” Valentine said. “Right now, my goal is for our team to repeat fourth place at state.

“It'd be great if we could do better, but the top teams are so close that if we have a bad race we could end up as low as eighth. But if we have a good race we could end up third in the state. It's all too close to tell.”

Added Foster: “I think the goals of the team are very high now. Six out of seven of us have competed at the state meet at least once before, so we know what to expect. It will be a fast race, so we will have to get out hard and try and keep our pack up near the front. I am happy I get the opportunity to race one more time with my team.”

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