Individual, team crowns give CG-B a clean sweep in conference cross country
Four conference titles on a record-setting day.
Cedar Grove-Belgium cross-country coach Ron Wood said his teams’ performance in last week’s Central Lakeshore Conference meet at Sheboygan Lutheran couldn’t have gone much better.
“I don’t know how it could have,” he said. “A successful day, at least in terms of championships.”
The Cedar Grove-Belgium boys and girls successfully defended their team titles Oct. 15, with the boys winning in a blowout and girls edging rival Sheboygan Lutheran.
Individually, the Rockets’ Josh Mulloy and Marina Paul each repeated their conference titles of last season.
The Cedar Grove-Belgium boys scored 19 points, one off the school record, and four off a perfect score of 15. Lutheran’s 58 points left it a distant second among six teams with full lineups.
The Rockets swept the top three individual places and had four runners in the first seven. Mulloy finished with a 5,000-meter time of 16 minutes, 36 seconds, only one second slower than his time in last year’s conference race despite cold, rainy conditions.
The Rockets’ Joel Merritt did what he has done all season, placing right behind Mulloy in 17:05. T.J. DuMez fought off an Elkhart Lake runner for third place, finishing in 17:10.
Among Cedar Grove-Belgium’s other scoring runners, Richard Beabout took sixth (17:18) and Alex Holle was seventh (17:33).
All five of the Rockets’ top finishers earned all-conference honors. Even those who failed to score did well. Brandon Krauska took 14th (18:21) and Al Murphy was 15th (18:43).
Wood said he was proud of the way his runners “rose above the elements and a little flu. They’re hitting their stride at the right time, that’s for sure.”
Ozaukee had only one runner in the boys’ race. Doug Grimm finished 21st in 19:19.
In the girls’ race, Cedar Grove-Belgium scored 37 points, six fewer than runner-up Lutheran. Oostburg was third with 104 points.
Lutheran, ranked No. 1 among the state’s Division 3 teams to Cedar Grove Belgium’s No. 4 spot, defeated the Rockets a couple of times earlier this season.
“We put the challenge down to them and they responded,” Wood said of his girls. “We laid down the gauntlet and sent a message.”
Paul finished the 4,000-meter race in 15:35, trimming 19 seconds off her title run last year.
The Rockets’ Kiera Depies was second in 15:51. Last year, she ran 18:11.
Among the Rockets’ other finishers, Erika Meinen placed sixth (16:43) and her sister, Jessica, took 12th (16:53). Kelly Del Ponte finished 14th (17:03), Taylor Ansay was 15th (17:07) and Tammi Del Ponte was 19th (17:29).
The Ozaukee girls scored 132 points and finished sixth in the seven-team standings.
Random Lake took fourth with 115 points, and Elkhart Lake was fifth with 125. Howards Grove was last with 172.
Ozaukee was again without standout Ali Hughes, who finished in the top three in every race this season before being sidelined with a leg injury. She hopes to be ready for Saturday’s sectional meet at Sheboygan Lutheran.
Jeanette Lapinski had the Warriors’ top run with a 17th-place time of 17:24. Their other finishers were Caitlin Siesco in 22nd (17:55), Sarah Brown in 24th (18:06), Nikola Zanker in 28th (18:14) and Sara Crynock in 41st (20:46).
“I was disappointed with the team finish, but runners improved on their times from last month at Sheboygan Lutheran,” Ozaukee coach Mike Herrick said.
“It was a good effort by the team on a cold and rainy day to race.”
The Rockets’ twin sweep marks the first time they have won the CLC boys’ and girls’ titles in the same season.
Wood said the key for his teams in this Saturday’s WIAA Division 3 sectional race on the same course will be “physical maintenance and mental preparation.”
The top two teams in sectional meets advance to the state final along with the five top individuals from non-qualifying squads.
The Rocket boys finished second at state last year and returned their top runners this season. The girls missed qualifying for state as a team last year.
The girls’ race starts at 11 a.m. Saturday, followed by the boys at 11:45 a.m.
JOSH MULLOY of Cedar Grove-Belgium raced to his second straight Central Lakeshore Conference title last week. Photo by Sam Arendt