Prep cross country’s penultimate weekend came and went Saturday, and a couple of area runners made sure they’d get one more chance to lace up the spikes and turn on the timers.
One team did, too.
Led by Meygan Benzing, Jamie Huber and Kaitlin Pickart, the Dodgeland girls took first place at a WIAA Division 3 sectional meet in Hartland, outscoring Palmyra-Eagle 35-52 to claim the championship.
“The girls were so calm, relaxed, and focused before the race. They knew if they did what they’ve been doing all year that good things would happen,” Dodgeland head coach Barry Smanz said. “Their confidence level is so high right now. I have seen some strange things happen at sectional meets and I was much more nervous than any of them. It was really a dominating performance.”
Benzing won the girls 5,000-meter race with a time of 19 minutes, 52.16 seconds, while Huber (20:14.63) and Pickart (20:22.87) were close behind.
It was Benzing’s second straight sectional championship and Huber’s third straight top-three finish at sectionals.
“Both have accomplished so much and it will be fun to watch next week as we expect both of them to be in the lead group,” Smanz said.
Meanwhile, it was a bit of a surprise that Pickart finished so close to the front.
“I can’t say enough good things about Kaitlin,” Smanz said. “She ran such a smart race and was able to defeat runners who had beaten her at conference.”
Rounding out the scorers for Dodgeland were Julia Holtz (13th in 21:19.52) and Rachel Parbs (14th in 21:44.18).
The Trojans boys took sixth with 190 points and were led by Dalton Klentz, who took 21st with a time of 18:34.43.
Horicon took 12th with 318 points and was led by Tyronn Gremminger, who was 38th in 19:24.59; Wayland took 15th with 393 points and was led by Sage Gaulding, who was 45th in 19:44.01; and Rio/Fall River took 17th with 448 points and was led by Spencer Braatz, who was 41st in 19:31.03.
Rounding things out on the girls side at that meet, Rio/Fall River took ninth with 277 points and was led by Ashley Hagenow, who was 25th in 22:34.25; Horicon took 10th with 297 points and was led by Josie McDonald, who was 33rd in 23:00.98; and Wayland didn’t have a complete team to finish in the standings but was led by Isabella Stromberg, who was 25th in 25:53.36.
Meanwhile at a Division 2 meet held at Lake Breeze Golf Course in Winneconne, Waupun’s Bailey Bille took fourth in 17:12.35 and Rhyer Smit took eighth in 17:28.07 — and both advanced to state.
The top two teams qualify for next Saturday’s state meet in Wisconsin Rapids, and then the top five individuals who aren’t members of either of those teams also advance.
Waupun’s boys team took fourth with 121 points, close behind third-place Ripon (108) and not too far back of runner-up Grafton (98). Cedar Grove-Belgium won with 83 points.
Leading the Warriors girls was Sara Miller, who took 67th in 23:47.57.
Also at that meet, Mayville’s girls team took sixth with 200 points and the Cardinals boys team took 13th with 388 points.
Leading the girls team was Cecily Hurtienne, who was 15th in 21:33.38; and leading the boys team was Issac Wolf, who was 63rd in 19:32.07.
Rounding out area teams competing at sectionals Saturday was Columbus, which at a meet held at Cam-Rock Park in Cambridge took eighth in the girls field with 212 points and 15th in the boys field with 435 points.
Julia Miller led the girls team by taking 14th in 20:14.92, while Cale Denk led by the boys team by taking 68th in 19:34.01.