Verona had three of the top seven runners in the freshmen/sophomore race to lead the Wildcats to the championship in the Big Eight Conference Grade Level Challenge on Tuesday, Sept. 14, at Stewart’s Woods behind Verona Area High School.
“Since it was on our home course we thought we might as well run them,” Verona coach Dave Hanson said. “If we had a training we would have run the same course.”
Hanson said for the first two miles each member of the team had a paced run with their training groups.
“The last mile it was everybody for themselves depending on how they were feeling,” Hanson said. “It was good for training and some girls learned something about themselves. The different approach gave them the opportunity to see what kind of racer they like to be the last mile.”
Verona sophomore Lexi Remiker finished fourth in the freshmen/sophomore race with a time of 21 minutes, 52 seconds. Freshman Liz den Daas took fifth with a lifetime-best time of 21:53.8 and sophomore Raelyn Bartels placed seventh (22:43.1).
Remiker was hoping to beat her time from the Verona Invitational earlier this season, but was one second away from a season-best time.
“My coach gave us times for each mile because we wanted to treat this as a workout because we just raced on Saturday,” Remiker said.
She started out with a slower pace and then moved up from 20th to fourth at the finish line.
“My friend Payette does that very race and our coach really wants us to start pacing the first mile better so we can really kick it the last mile.”
Payette Neess finished fifth in the junior-senior race with a team-best time of 21:43.5. Junior Sotera Boado placed eighth (22:02.8) in the same race and senior Emma Petta took 10th (22:14.6).
“Payette has her run down where she likes to go out paced and then she likes to come on strong over the last mile,” Hanson said.
Verona captured the team title with 28 points to edge Janesville Craig (37) and Middleton (39).
Verona will compete in the Midwest Invitational on Saturday, Sept. 26.
Remiker and Bartels will miss the invite.
Hanson said it will give two Verona freshmen an opportunity to race.
“I have had some girls who have run their fastest mile ever the first mile of that race,” he said. “We are the kind of team that if you see one of them you will see a pack. Our goal is to get our pack pushing forward.”