Three Grafton girls, Port’s Benkley and Marhal qualify for Div. 2 cross-country finals
Short of advancing a full lineup to the state finals, there wasn’t much more the Grafton girls’ cross-country team could have done to top its performance at Tendick Park in Saukville last Saturday.GRAFTON’S Amber Ducheny (right) and Port Washington’s Bianca Benkley were among four local girls who advanced to this week’s Division 2 state cross-country meet. Photo by Sam Arendt
Fueled by three state-qualifying performances, the Black Hawks raced to third place in a WIAA Division 2 sectional meet.
Grafton’s standout trio was led by junior Amber Ducheny and senior Jamie Karrels, who finished sixth and seventh, respectively, in the 4,000-meter race — both in 16 minutes, 4 seconds.
Close behind in eighth was freshman teammate Katie Boehm (16:06).
Champion Shorewood scored 44 points to edge runner-up Wisconsin Lutheran (46), with Grafton (58) and host Port Washington (110) rounding out the top four.
The first two teams advanced for the state meet along with the top five individuals from non-qualifying teams.
“It was a stellar performance by the girls,” said Grafton coach Kevin Kriegel, whose squad had its largest number of state qualifiers since advancing a full team in 2001.
“They all ran well and had great times. This was the best team finish we’ve had since I started coaching the girls (in 2002).”
Grafton narrowly missed having a fourth runner reach the state level. Freshman Rachel Ruona finished 12th in 16:16, falling two seconds and one place short of the final individual qualifying spot.
Grafton’s other scoring effort came from junior Heidi Bauer, who was 25th (17:00) in the 88-runner field. Also for the Hawks, Megan Pawlak took 26th (17:07) and Catherine Lundgren was 51st (18:06).
Kriegel was impressed with his team’s determination. He noted that Ducheny continued to battle through a leg injury to earn her second straight state trip and several other runners had personal-best times.
“Our top runners gave all they had. You could really see it in the final mile,” he said.
The other local state qualifier among the girls was Port Washington’s Bianca Benkley. The junior finished ninth (16:11) in a tight race with Grafton’s lead trio.
Benkley earned her third straight trip to the Division 2 finals, which will be held this Saturday at Ridges Golf Course in Wisconsin Rapids.
“Bianca ran well. Realistically, that was probably what we could hope for with our young team,” Port girls’ coach Joe Adamak said.
“They all went out there and did their best, which is all you can ask.”
Port’s other scoring runners were sophomore Abby Kotecki in 16th (16:29), senior Bonnie Allen in 24th (16:59), freshman Brenna Russell in 28th (17:10) and sophomore Maggie Kotecki in 33rd (17:24).
The Pirates’ other finishers were Brianna Ahner in 59th (18:43) and Anna Bartlein in 61st (18:48).
Shorewood junior Haley Holan won the individual title in 15:14.
Rounding out the 12-team girls’ standings were New Berlin West (158), New Berlin Eisenhower (163), Milwaukee Lutheran (190), University School (206), Oostburg (244), Thomas More (283), Kettle Moraine Lutheran (289) and Mayville (292).
Port’s Marhal reaches boys’ state final
Jason Marhal of Port was the lone state qualifier among local teams in the boys’ sectional race.
The junior posted a 5,000-meter time of 17:09, good for 10th place in a 90-runner field — and good enough for the third-fastest time among runners on non-qualifying teams. Marhal will make his second appearance at state.
“We expected Jason to qualify. He handled the pressure well and came through,” Port boys’ coach Mark Pasten said.
The Pirates narrowly missed having another runner advance. Junior Jack Skelton-Miller was 16th in 17:26, two places behind the final qualifying spot.
“Jack had a great effort,” said Pasten, who noted that Skelton-Miller had to fight through a bad cold.
Rounding out Port’s scoring finishes were freshman Eagan Norman in 22nd (17:43), sophomore Billy Ernest in 30th (18:03) and junior Joe Bortolotti in 38th (18:19). Matt Froelich (18:21) and Taylor Godersky (18:24) were 40th and 42nd, respectively.
Wisconsin Lutheran won the boys’ team title with 37 points, and Shorewood was second with 44.
Port Washington was a distant third with 116 points, followed by New Berlin West (119), Milwaukee Lutheran (140), Kettle Moraine Lutheran (194), Oostburg (214), Mayville (214), New Berlin Eisenhower (234), Grafton (270), Thomas More (280), University School (281) and Brown Deer (319).
Grafton was led by sophomores Jacob Woolf (18:00) and Patrick Tobianski (18:10), who finished 27th and 33rd, respectively.
The Hawks’ other scoring efforts came from seniors Steven Duarte in 65th (19:54), Alex Olsen in 72nd (20:10) and Adam Kahmann in 73rd (20:15). Also, Connor Amundson took 78th (20:30) and Jonathan Wollner was 80th (20:46).
The boys’ individual champion was Milwaukee Lutheran senior Jeff Meitler (16:25).
This Saturday’s state meet will begin with the girls’ races — Division 3 at 11 a.m., Division 2 at 11:40 a.m. and Division 1 at 12:20 p.m.
Boys’ races start with Division 3 at 1 p.m., followed by Division 2 at 1:40 p.m. and Division 1 at 2:20 p.m.
Individual and team awards will be presented at Wisconsin Rapids Lincoln High School at 3:45 p.m.
In last year’s state meet, Benkley placed 18th in a field of 151 runners as part of a Port girls’ team that took third in Division 2.
Ducheny was 79th in a Division 1 state field of 190 runners.
Marhal was part of a third-place Port boys’ team and finished 79th among 148 runners in Division 2.