BOSCOBEL – The Darlington Redbirds girls’ and boys’ cross country teams each made a run at a Southwest Wisconsin Activities League team title on Tuesday afternoon, but each came up a little short in their quest for a conference crown.
The defending champion Lady Redbirds finished four points behind Fennimore to take second in the girls’ race while the Redbirds fought their way to a third-place finish in the boys’ race at the 2020 SWAL Meet held at Ryan Zimple Memorial Course outside of Boscobel on Tuesday, Oct. 13.
“I was impressed with how we raced. Despite everything that has gone on this fall, they have pulled together and stayed focused and that was evident Tuesday night,” said Darlington head coach Arnie Miehe. “Twenty-one of the 26 runners who ran had their best time of the year, and six of our 15 upperclassmen ran their fastest times ever. But it wasn’t enough to get it done.”
Miehe noted it was the first time in 13 years that Darlington didn’t have one of its teams bring home a team title from the SWAL Meet, and the first time since 2004 that the Redbirds didn’t have an individual or a team conference champion.
Being 2020, the coronavirus also played a bit of a role in the outcome of both the girls’ and boys’ race as Boscobel’s girls’ squad was unable to participate in the race due to being quarantined, while Darlington was without a top runner on both their girls’ and boys’ team also due to COVID-19 quarantine protocols.
Had those Redbird runners been able to participate, Miehe discovered both the girls’ and boys’ squads would have more than likely swept the team titles.
The Lady Redbirds were the first team to have their top five runners cross the finish line– each placing among the top 15 to earn All-SWAL honors– but fell four points behind champion Fennimore, 49-53, after the Golden Eagles placed three runners in the top 10.
Darlington freshman Raquel Reuter turned in the third-best 5,000-meter time in program history and the fastest freshman time ever while placing third overall in 19:49.
The next four Redbirds came in one after the other in 11th through 14th places led by junior Allyson Meyers in 21:51. Meyers was followed across the line by sophomore Ashlynn Norgard in 21:57, senior Morgan Black in 22:06, and freshman Alexis Murray in 22:11, who all captured a spot on the All-SWAL team.
“Our ladies had a good start and then began making moves during the middle part of the race, but we didn’t close (the gaps) enough to win. I was pleased with how they dug in and went at it, but we came up short,” pointed out Miehe.
Southwestern/Cuba City/Benton junior Kayci Martensen claimed the SWAL girls’ individual conference title for the third year in a row with a season-best time of 17:37, and her freshman sister, Hanna, pulled in second in 19:03.
It was a tight race for the boys with host Boscobel defending their title from a year ago after holding off runner-up Iowa-Grant and the Redbirds to capture the crown with a 52-point total. The Panthers were second at 68 and the ‘Birds were third at 74.
Junior Rhett Reuter was second individual for the Redbirds with his season-best time of 16:49
Senior Cristian Guiterrez joined Reuter on the All-SWAL squad by finishing eighth in a PR of 18:03.
Senior Caleb Weaver was 17th overall and 16th among team runners in 18:28, followed by junior Ethan Thompson in 22nd/20th in 19:01 and senior Michael Thompson in 30th/28th in 19:31 to round out the team scoring at the meet.
“The guys ran with a sense of purpose I hadn’t seen for awhile. They got in position and hung tough to the end. There were some mad dashes to the finish, which showed me how much pride they have in themselves and what they are doing,” Miehe remarked.
I-G senior Nick Connolly defended his SWAL boys’ individual title with a winning time of 16:23.
In the junior varsity races, the Redbirds swept the team titles winning the girls’ race with a 24-point finish and adding the boys’ crown with a 15-point finish. Senior Elliana Ruiz was the top individual JV girls’ runner in 23:36.
2020 SWAL CHAMPIONSHIP MEET
(At Ryan Zimple Memorial Course, on Tuesday, Oct. 13)
Varsity Girls Team Scores: Fennimore 49, Darlington 53, Albany 78, Southwestern/Cuba City/Benton 103, Iowa-Grant 118, Riverdale 127, Pecatonica/Argyle inc.
Girls’ Individual Winner: 1- Kayci Martensen, SW/CC/B, 17:37.
JV Girls Team Scores: Darlington 24, Fennimore 31.
Darlington Results (overall): Vars– 3- Raquel Reuter, 19:49; 11- Allyson Meyers, 21:51; 12- Ashlynn Norgard, 21:57; 13- Morgan Black, 21:34; 14- Alexis Murray, 22:11; 17- Alyza Johnson, 22:45; 22- Addison DePauw, 23:21. JV– 1- Elliana Ruiz, 23:36; 2- Shayla Gould, 24:09; 4- Lexi Olson, 24:17; 7- Xandria Olson, 24:56; 10- Maddie Eaton, 25:21; 11- Kylie Schilling, 25:22; 16- Ava Andrae, 29:27.
Varsity Boys Team Scores: Boscobel 52, Iowa-Grant 68, Darlington 74, Southwestern/Cuba City/Benton 98, Albany 123, Fennimore 139, Riverdale 153, Pecatonica/Argyle inc.
Boys’ Individual Winner: 1- Nick Connolly, IG, 16:23.
Darlington Results (overall): Vars– 2- Rhett Reuter, 16:49; 8- Cristian Gutierrez, 18:03; 17- Caleb Weaver, 18:28; 22- Ethan Thompson, 19:01; 30- Michael Thompson, 19:31; 39- Luis Rios, 20:18; 41- Liam Lansing, 20:22. JV– 5- Brandon Hardt, 20:44; 6- Ethan Aird, 20:55; 10- Phillip McGowan, 21:55; 16- Richard Cruz, 22:44; 29- Jhovanny Cruz, 27:06.
JV Boys Team Scores: Darlington 15.