Boys XC team downright dominant

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MTT News's picture
Rob Reischel
Caleb Easton and Middleton's boys cross country team won the Big Eight Conference championship last Saturday./Times-Tribune photo by Mary Langenfeld


Middleton’s boys cross country team didn’t just win the Big Eight Conference championship last Saturday. The Cardinals dominated a remarkably gifted field.

Middleton put four runners in the top five, led by champion Caleb Easton and runner-up Michael Madoch. The Cardinals had five of the top-10 runners and six individuals that earned all-conference honors.

And Middleton finished with just 22 points to easily outdistance two-time defending state champion Madison West (64).

“Overall, it was impressive how dominant we were today,” Middleton coach Brian Finnel said. “There are three other ranked programs in the conference who are all sensational, but to put four in the top five and all six finishers be all-conference is awesome.”

The top-ranked Cardinals, who were second at the Big Eight meet in 2015 and ’16, captured their first conference title in 16 years.

“The guys were incredibly hungry to win this conference championship,” Finnel said. “After finishing second the last two years we really believed this was our year. We all knew we were more than capable to win it. The guys just had to perform and treat it like any other race this season. Simply put, they crushed it.”

Easton had a sensational race, finishing the 5,000-meter course in 15 minutes, 59 seconds. Easton got off to a strong start and pulled away from a pair of runners down the stretch.

“Caleb is the real deal,” Finnel said. “He made that race look extremely easy and has way more in the tank yet. He created a gap between those guys quickly and looked very smooth doing it. I truly believe Caleb is going to turn some heads at the state meet.”

Madoch had a terrific race himself and finished in 16:08.

“Michael Madoch was stellar. What a race he had,” Finnel said. “He has steadily improved over the season and is in great position for this championship part of the year.”

Jaeger dedicated the race to his grandmother, who had passed away earlier in the week. Jaeger most certainly did her proud, finishing fourth overall in 16:13.

“Big props to Sam Jaeger,” Finnel said. “We had to pull him from a workout earlier this week since he tweaked his hamstring, but he told me he was going to race regardless of how it felt. He was pretty adamant about it, too.

“Turns out, he wanted to dedicate the race to his grandma, who passed away earlier in the week and the funeral took place out of town during the race. That was quite honorable of Sam and we are all very proud of his efforts.”

Roman Ystenes set a personal-best and finished fifth in 16:18, while Braedon Gilles was 10th in 16:36 and Egan Johnson was 14th.

“Roman had a (personal best) and I think is going to continue to keep that gap between our first four runners close,” Finnel said. “Braedon and Egan worked together and moved up well. They were probably in the mid 20's at the mile and finished 10th and 14th.”

On the downside, Middleton’s Jack Rader re-injured an Achilles and could be lost for the rest of the year.

“It's a big loss for us if he's out the rest of the season, but I think the team is prepared to move forward, too,” Finnel said. “We have the depth this year to still make a run for the title, but it will obviously be tougher without him.”

Middleton will now head to the WIAA Division 1 DeForest Sectional Saturday at 11:45 a.m.

The top two teams at sectionals head to the state meet on Oct. 28.

“I'm very, very proud of the guys today and what they accomplished and in the fashion they did it in,” Finnel said. “This is a big team win and it's a great way to start the championship part of the season. 

“To be successful moving forward, we have to be very humble. We won conference, which is terrific, but no one is handing us the state title. We need to keep training smart and rest appropriately. If we can do those things we are going to put ourselves in wonderful position over the final two weeks.”


Team scores: Middleton 22; Madison West 64; Sun Prairie 94; Madison La Follette 94; Madison La Follette 100; Janesville Craig 139; Verona 157; Madison East 170; Madison Memorial 180; Janesville Parker 287; Beloit Memorial 305.

Top 10 individuals: 1, C. Easton, Mid, 15:59; 2, Madoch, Mid, 16:08; 3, Freitag, ML, 16:10; 4, Jaeger, Mid, 16:13; 5, Ystenes, Mid, 16:18; 6, Francis, SP, 16:20; 7, Jacobs, MW, 16:30; 8, Kehoe, SP, 16:33; 9, Reed, MW, 16:36; 10, Gilles, Mid, 16:36.

Middleton — 1, C. Easton 15:59; 2, Madoch 16:08; 4, Jaeger 16:13; 5, Ystenes 16:18; 10, Gilles 16:36.


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