Their placings in Saturday’s Verona Invite could fool some into thinking the Bluejay cross country team stumbled, but experience and perspective convince Coach Greg Eichelkraut that his teams performed at a high level.
“This is a case of the sum of the whole is truly greater than the sum of the parts,” Eichelkraut said of his boys team. “Our boys improved their times at Verona on a much tougher course, and some of the best teams in the state-for both guys and girls-were there. It was like rookie league ball at Lakeland, like AA-AAA at Rhinelander, and this was the big leagues.
“The girls’ team didn’t achieve quite as much as the guys’ team but they still had some success.”
Pacing those girls was Sydney Harris, who ranked 33rd overall of 149 runners in 16:45.89, just one second out of 29th and 9 seconds out of 25th. She was 9th in the D2 event.
“Sydney’s goal was to be in the top 20,” Kraut said. “She was in position for much of the race, but she ran into some problems in that last mile. She felt she was a bit dehydrated. She was part of a whole pack at the end and just couldn’t break through at the finish line.
“Ashley (Berton) had a little problem with asthma. Our other girls’ times were in the ball park.”
In the D2 race, Berton ranked 28th (18:21), followed by Maria DeBroux (45th, 19:45), Kelci Peterson (49th, 20:03), Kendra Andreska (53rd, 20:56) and Sarah Ponzer (54th, 23:47). The girls were 8th in D2 and 21st of 22 overall.
The boys were paced by soph Andrew Seaman (40th, 19:54), frosh Trevor Myers (46th, 20:23), Andrew Koch (47th, 20:25) and Ethan Schneider (49th, 20:35) and soph Michael Seaman (51st, 20:48). Mathew Dewar (53rd, 21:39) and Andy Czech (54th, 21:39) also competed. The boys ranked 8th in D2 and 25th overall.
“The intra-squad competition is keeping everyone on their toes,” Eichelkraut said. “By the end of the season they have the potential to do more than we thought they would.
“We had to rely on a lot of freshmen and sophomores. If they had competed at the JV level, they would have been 11th-12th of 23 teams in an extremely competitive meet.”