All-area boys cross country: Middleton’s Caleb Easton sets the pace
Middleton senior Caleb Easton again led the pack when it came to the area boys cross country running scene this season.
Easton won the Big Eight Conference meet and sectional titles and turned in the fastest time among area runners at the WIAA Division 1 state boys cross country meet Oct. 27 at the Ridges Golf Course in Wisconsin Rapids.
For his efforts, Easton was named the Wisconsin State Journal/WisconsinPrepZone.com All-Area boys cross country athlete of the year for the second consecutive year.
Easton finished seventh and helped lead Middleton to a second-place finish at state behind Neenah. Middleton had been the defending champion and top-ranked entering the meet, but was short-handed at the sectional and state meets due to a key injury to Roman Ystenes.
“Caleb put in a lot of time, energy and work over the summer to prepare for his final season,” Middleton coach Brian Finnel said. “Overall, I thought the season went quite well. He had a strong second half of the season, especially when I look at conference and sectionals.
“State was a bit of an off-day, but wow, he came back with such determination with a stellar NXR race. That’s the thing I love about Caleb. If he feels he didn’t reach his potential, he reflects, learns from mistakes and brings a bright outlook for the next race.”
Easton’s individual placing and the Cardinals’ inability to repeat as team champion disappointed Easton, who has committed to Northern Arizona University.
“I know my guys worked really hard … but not every (race) goes the way you want it to,” Easton said after the state meet.
Coach of the Year
Middleton’s Brian Finnel was named the All-Area coach of the year. Middleton was at full strength for the Big Eight meet and claimed first with 35 points, ahead of runner-up Madison West (59). The Cardinals also were the Madison West sectional champion.
Among area schools in the Division 1 meet, Middleton was second, Madison West placed fourth and Sun Prairie finished 12th. Middleton’s finish was tops among area boys schools in the team races in the three divisions.
Caleb Easton, sr., Middleton: Easton finished seventh in the WIAA Division 1 state boys cross country meet in 15 minutes, 51.9 seconds, leading the Cardinals to a second-place finish. The Northern Arizona University recruit was the Big Eight Conference meet champion and the Madison West sectional champion.
Bryan Bloomquist, so., Janesville Craig: Bloomquist placed 10th (15:55.3) at the Division 1 state meet. He was third at the Big Eight meet and was the Wales Kettle Moraine sectional winner.
Max Loetscher, sr., Madison East: Loetscher finished 16th (16:07.2) at the Division 1 state meet. He was fifth at the Big Eight meet and sectional runner-up to Easton.
Andrew Pahnke, sr., McFarland: Pahnke placed second (16:11.7) in the Division 2 state race. He was runner-up in the Rock Valley Conference meet and was Division 2 River Valley sectional champion.
Ash Francis, sr., Sun Prairie: Francis earned a 22nd-place finish (16:16.4) at the Division 1 state meet, leading the Cardinals to 12th place. He was fourth at the Big Eight meet.
Cade Ferron, sr., Beaver Dam: Ferron was the Badger North Conference meet champion. He was 33rd (16:26.2) at the Division 1 state meet.
James Giftos, sr., Monona Grove: Giftos won the Badger South Conference meet. He was third at the Madison West sectional and 43rd (16:31.2) at the Division 1 state meet.
Ryan Reed, jr., Madison West; Christian Patzka, jr., Wisconsin Heights/Barneveld; Tyler Jones, sr., Portage; Egan Johnson, jr., Middleton; Eli Kemna, sr., McFarland; Gavin Czarnecki, so., Beaver Dam; Peter Hoferle, jr., Middleton.
Roman Ystenes, jr., Middleton; Zach Leffel, jr., Middleton; Erik Neunninghoff, sr., Madison West; Julian Gary, jr., Madison West; Luke Treiber, sr., Madison West; Chris Wolfe, jr., Madison La Follette; Adam Tess, sr., Sun Prairie; Aaron Leverson, sr., Janesville Craig; Braedon Gilles, jr., Middleton; Riley Siltman, so., Evansville; Ian Sande, jr., Jefferson; Reed Anderson, sr., Monona Grove; Jacob Burgener, sr., DeForest; Alex Grabowski, sr., DeForest; Henry Keith, jr., Dodgeville/Mineral Point; Wills Manning, sr., Deerfield/Cambridge; Logan Dzielinski, sr., Jefferson; Nick Hellrood, sr., Madison La Follette; Colin Green, sr., Madison Country Day/Abundant Life; Elias Ritzke, jr., Poynette.