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DeForest’s Jacob Burgener edges Beaver Dam’s Cade Ferron at Badger Conference Challenge

September 12, 2018

MOUNT HOREB — DeForest senior Jacob Burgener was struggling.

The hilly Norsk Golf Club course and the sunny, 78-degree conditions were taking a toll at Tuesday’s 16-team Badger Conference Challenge boys and girls age-level cross country meet.

Burgener wasn’t certain he could catch the leader in the boys junior/senior race, Beaver Dam senior Cade Ferron.

“At the mile mark, it started getting really hard,” Burgener said.

But with about 800 meters left in the 5,000-meter race, Burgener found his second wind. Then on the downhill stretch to the finish line, he found a second gear.

Ferron heard cheers but didn’t realize Burgener was making a charge behind him. The two seniors crossed the finish line and immediately afterward didn’t know who won; they even thought it might be a tie.

But Burgener’s lean at the line proved the difference. He won the junior/senior race in 16 minutes, 49.0 seconds. Ferron was second in 16:49.1.

“I just felt it on the downhill,” Burgener said. “I guess I had something left and pounded it in. I felt good and went for it.”

Ferron, who finished 17th at the WIAA Division 1 boys cross country meet last season, hopes to qualify for state again and place in the top 10 this season.

“I made my move at the mile mark,” Ferron said about Tuesday’s race. “I tried to build a gap. I wanted to finish strong and maintain. But I died a little toward the end.”

Portage senior Tyler Jones finished third (16:55.0), while DeForest senior Alex Grabowski was fourth (16:58.7).

Burgener, a state qualifier last year, and Grabowski had the top times for the Norskies, who won the boys team title determined by the top five times of each team from the junior/senior and freshman/sophomore races. DeForest was first (89:32.7), followed by runner-up Sauk Prairie (91:14.8) and Monona Grove (91:23.6), ranked 15th in Division 1 in the state coaches’ poll.

Beaver Dam sophomore Gavin Czarnecki won the boys freshman/sophomore race in 17:31.7. Oregon freshman Yordanos Zelinski was second (18:03.0) and Monroe sophomore Alex Henry placed third (18:15.0).

“I just wanted to compete for first place coming into the race,” Czarnecki said. “I was hoping for a better time. … I wasn’t sure about the competition coming in. It feels good.”

Girls

Monona Grove sophomore Peighton Nelson earned a comfortable victory in claiming the freshman/sophomore 5,000-meter race in 20:38.4 and led the Silver Eagles to the team title.

“I went out too fast for the first mile and didn’t feel great for the rest of the race,” Nelson said. “I focused on keeping my position. I wanted to do what I could to help our team.”

Anna Ollendick, a sophomore from host Mount Horeb, was second in 21:02.0, followed by third-place Acacia Holmquist (21:09.5), a Monona Grove sophomore. Nelson and Holmquist had the top times for 15th-ranked Monona Grove (106:40.8). Waunakee, ranked 18th, finished second (108:24.0) and Fort Atkinson was third (109:19.4).

“It’s definitely a difficult course,” Nelson said. “Even though there are several downhills, there a several gradual hills as well. You have to push through.”

Nelson, 85th at the Division 1 girls state meet last year, has her sights set on making it back to state this season.

“But I want to bring my team along,” said Nelson, who also competes in basketball and track and field. “I think that would be a blast. I think we have a good shot at it.”

Oregon senior Lauren Beauchaine was ecstatic after winning the girls junior/senior race in 20:16.6. She said it was her first victory in cross country and the first time she competed on the Mount Horeb course.

“It went really well,” Beauchaine said. “Going into it, it seemed really hilly and difficult. But I think I was ready for it. I think all of our training paid off and really helped me in the race. I’ve never been in first place and that motivated me.”

Fort Atkinson junior Jenna Lovejoy finished second (20:27.0) and Waunakee junior Emma Bertz was third (20:27.7). Lovejoy led the early part of the race, but Beauchaine said she took the lead at about the two-mile mark.

“I knew (Lovejoy) was a really strong runner from track and past years in cross country,” Beauchaine said. “At the end, I gave it all I had. It was a cool feeling (to win).”

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