Nobody will be more happy to see Wisconsin Dells senior Laura Beghin graduate from high school than Wisconsin Dells’ opposing coaches in the South Central Conference.
Beghin finished off a dominating cross country career in the conference in impressive fashion, winning the South Central Conference girls race for the fourth year in a row. Beghin finished in 20 minutes, 12 seconds, and in the process, led the Wisconsin Dells girls to the conference championship by 26 points over runner-up Wautoma/Wild Rose at Christmas Mountain Village in Wisconsin Dells on Saturday.
Not only did Beghin win the conference meet in all four years of her high school career, but she also won the conference middle school race all three years she ran in that meet too, giving her conference championships seven years in a row.
“It’s amazing. It’s been a goal since 6th grade when I first realized that I enjoyed running,” Beghin said. “I’m just so fortunate to be able to keep doing it all these years. It’s really exciting to have all seven years in a row. I’m really excited about it.”
Finishing second overall on Saturday was Wisconsin Dells senior Lindsay Cunningham in 21:09. Joining Beghin and Cunningham in the top seven, and earning first team all-conference honors for the Chiefs were sophomore Hailey Anchor, who was fourth in 21:25, and junior Emily Cunningham, who was seventh in 22:18.
Those four girls weren’t the only Wisconsin Dells runners to earn all-conference honors, as the Chiefs had all seven of their runners finish in the top 14, meaning the entire varsity squad earned first or second team honors.
Finishing 10th for the Wisconsin Dells girls was freshman Tessa Ketelhut in 23:25, while sophomore Destiny Whitebreast was 12th in 23:44 and junior Megan Jones was 13th in 23:47.
Beghin said winning the conference team championship in all four years of her high school career was important to here.
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“These girls are definitely like family. They have been since I first started in middle school really, always going through this together,” Beghin said. “We’ve worked so hard for this. People don’t really see it until we get to show them in these races like this, but it means everything to do it with these girls.”
The good news for Beghin is that she is also feeling good heading into the homestretch of the season. After an injury-plagued junior season, Beghin wasn’t able to train a lot in the offseason, and didn’t always put the pedal to the metal in every meet this fall. The strategy to back off at times appears to have paid off.
“Throughout high school, it’s been a hard stretch, just with a lot of different injuries,” said Beghin, who has medaled at the state meet in each of the previous three years, including a pair of runner-up finishes in her freshman and sophomore seasons. “Since I started running in August, it hasn’t been much training, so I’m pretty nervous for the next two meets, but I’m excited to finish the season. I’m in a better spot than I was last year. I’m excited to finish strong.”
Next up for the Wisconsin Dells is a trip to compete at the Division 2 Colby Sectional on Saturday. At the sectional, the top two teams and the top five individuals not on one of the top two teams advance to compete at the WIAA State Championships, held in Wisconsin Rapids on Saturday, Nov. 2.
The Wisconsin Dells girls will be trying to qualify for the state meet as a team for the fourth year in a row, and the fifth time in the last six years. Their top finish at the state meet during that stretch was second place in 2017.
Advancing to the state meet won’t be easy. The Chiefs, who are ranked fifth in Division 2 in the latest Wisconsin Cross Country Coaches Association Coaches Poll, are one of three ranked teams running in the Colby Sectional. Also running at the sectional will be 10th-ranked Medford and 13th-ranked La Crosse Logan.
SOUTH CENTRAL CONFERENCE MEET
Team scores — Wisconsin Dells 24; Wautoma/Wild Rose 50; Mauston 65; Westfield 132; Adams-Friendship 135; Nekoosa 145.
Top 10 individuals — 1, Beghin, WD, 20:12; 2, L. Cunningham, WD, 21:09; 3, Havlovitz, WWR, 21:23; 4, Anchor, WD, 21:25; 5, Malacina, Mau, 21:50; 6, Woyak, WWR, 22:08; 7, E. Cunningham 22:18; 8, Boppart, Mau, 22:58; 9, Drinkwine 23:14; 10, Ketelhut, WD, 23:25.
Wisconsin Dells: 1, Laura Beghin 20:12; 2, Lindsay Cunningham 21:09; 4, Hailey Anchor 21:25; 7, Emily Cunningham 22:18; 10, Tessa Ketelhut 23:25; 12, Destiny Whitebreast 23:44; 13, Megan Jones 23:47.