WISCONSIN DELLS – The paths were likely well-worn, though seeing the proof would need to wait until the following morning.
In a unique cross country event at Spring Brook Golf Course on Friday, three divisions of both boys and girls runners made their way through darker conditions in the Nightfall Classic. Mauston, Royall and Necedah were among the 50-plus schools trekking through the course and occasionally running through the spotlight.
“The race is one-of-a-kind in that it’s under the moon and stars,” Mauston coach Bill Devoe said. “The course is lighted with portable lighting; it’s a completely difference racing experience for all the competitors.
“The course had an incredible amount of lighting, turns were marked with red or yellow lighting (and) straightaways had blue flashing lights. At times it looks more like an airport runway than a cross country course.”
Mauston had enough light to avoid last-place finishes in both the boys and girls events for Division 2, though the teams at the front were in a league of their own. Shorewood (63) put four runners in the top 15 of the boys event to top the team standings while Wisconsin Dells (27) had four top-10 finishers to win the girls event.
The Golden Eagles finished 12th with 278 points in the boys event, led by Luke Boppart’s 13th-place finish in 17 minutes, 27.77 seconds. He was just over 23 seconds from a top-10 finish; Nekoosa’s Miguel Mathias won the event in 15:54.25.
Preston Shields (18:40.93) finished 50th for Mauston; Teagan Miller (19:02.63) was 64th; Nate Thayer (19:35.67) was 83rd and Ethan Franek (20:38.57) was 122nd.
Mauston was 10th in the girls event with 266 points. Isabella King had the team’s best finish in 39th, with a time of 22:16.97. Jill Sturzsherg (23:05.07) was 58th; Kennedy Barnier (23:28.09) was 70th; Mattie Denton (24:05.25) was 81st and Paige Wesley (27:09.35) was 112th.
“The number of competing teams has grown to 52, making it the largest high school night race in Wisconsin cross country history,” Devoe said. “It is an incredible experience for everyone.”
Despite having too few runners to garner a team score, the Royall girls team still had a top-25 finisher. Tenley Wopat (21:36.5) finished 22nd – five seconds from a top-20 finish and less than a minute from a top-10.
Boscobel earned the team win with 119 points despite not having a top-10 finisher. Home School (131) edged Lourdes Academy (133) for the runner-up spot. Necedah finished 17th in the event with a 410, led by a 44th-place finish from Emily Herried (22:31.2).
Anetha Vogele (23:03.6) finished 59th for Necedah with Royall’s Madeline Wainwright (23:05) one spot behind. Megan Van (26:16) was 127th; Lydia King (27:29.8) was 149th and Mikayla McNally (28:03) was 152nd for the Cardinals.
Necedah finished 18th in the boys team standings with 486 points while Royall was 23rd with 614. Sheboygan Area Lutheran topped the division with 75 points.
Colin Wesolek led the Cardinals with a 64th-place finish in 18:51.9; Isaiah Herried (19:03.5) was 76th; Cole Parrish (19:49.8) was 105th and Seth David (21:38) was 178th. Nolan McKittrick led the Panthers with a time of 20:03 to finish 117th; Tyler Johnson (20:36) was 146th; Harley Leverenz (21:12.8) was 166th and Hunter Newlun (21:35.6) was 177th.