All-area girls cross country: Madison West’s Genevieve Nashold glides through an undefeated freshman season
She came out of nowhere.
Madison West freshman Genevieve Nashold ran her first high school cross country race — and her first competitive race of any kind — at the muddy and treacherous Verona Invitational on Sept. 1.
She sent race-watchers scrambling to check their programs when she won the race by an astonishing margin of 51 seconds. Two veteran coaches drew comparisons to Winona (Minn.) Cotter legend Grace Ping, who won her first Minnesota state high school championship when she was a seventh-grader.
But the diminutive and determined Nashold shrugged off the pressure — it could be said that she simply ran straight through it — and never lost a race all season.
When she cruised to the individual championship in the WIAA Division 1 state meet, becoming the first girls state champion in West’s history, it became obvious that Nashold already had made a major contribution to the Madison area’s rich cross country legacy.
As a result, Nashold has been named the Wisconsin State Journal/WisconsinPrepZone.com All-Area Girls Cross Country Runner of the Year for 2018.
“I didn’t really expect it, but it is pretty exciting,” Nashold said after covering the 5,000-meter state course in Wisconsin Rapids in 18 minutes, 10 seconds — 16.5 seconds ahead of the runner-up.
That was the same attitude Nashold displayed when interviewed after the Verona meet and the Big Eight Conference meet — a look of determination and confidence, tempered by humility and a sheer joy for running.
She won the Big Eight meet in 18:16 and the sectional in 18:34, and emerged from a pack of leaders about two-thirds of the way through the state meet to blow away the competition.
Coach of the Year: Managing a group of talented young newcomers and blending them in with a group of veteran upperclassmen, Madison West coach Cory Hayden built a team that finished fourth in the Division 1 state meet after taking second in the Big Eight Conference meet and winning their own sectional title.
As a result, Hayden has been named the All-Area Girls Cross Country Coach of the Year for 2018.
“It was a bit of a veiled mystery how we’d do,” Hayden said after Nashold’s big debut in Verona. “But after the first lap, I knew we’d be OK. Competitive running is a new venture (for Nashold and two other freshmen who started the season on the varsity), but we have such a good supporting cast, a good group of seniors.”
WISCONSIN STATE JOURNAL/WISCONSINPREPZONE.COM
2018 ALL-AREA GIRLS CROSS COUNTRY
Genevieve Nashold, fr., Madison West: Never lost a race during her first season of competitive running, taking the Big Eight Conference meet (18:16), the West sectional (18:34) and the Division 1 state meet (18:10). Named All-Area Runner of the Year.
Laura Beghin, jr., Wisconsin Dells: Returned from a serious mid-season injury to finish eighth in the Division 2 state meet (19:10) after winning the South Central Conference title (19:56) and taking third in her sectional (20:54).
Hannah Constable, jr., Johnson Creek: Came on strong in the Division 3 state meet to finish 10th in 19:34, after settling for third in the Trailways Conference meet (21:09) and second in her sectional (20:08).
Reagan Hoopes, sr., Waunakee: Ran to an eighth-place finish at Division 1 state (18:42) after winning the Badger North Conference title (19:27) and taking third in her sectional (18:57).
Katie Kopotic, so., Sun Prairie: Led the talent-rich Cardinals to a runner-up team finish at Division 1 state, finishing seventh individually (18:38). Took second in the Big Eight meet (19:41) and won her sectional (18:55).
Mariah Linse, sr., Jefferson: Finished 10th at Division 2 state (19:14) after winning the Rock Valley Conference meet (19:25) and her sectional (20:34).
Maddie Thompson, sr., Sun Prairie: A University of Minnesota recruit, Thompson finished 13th at Division 1 state (18:59) after taking fourth in the Big Eight (18:50) and second in her sectional (19:06).
Andi Bowman, sr., Madison West; Autumn Dushack, jr., Sun Prairie; Claire Hulick, so., Janesville Craig; Jenna Lovejoy, jr., Fort Atkinson; Lauren Pansegrau, fr., Middleton; Hannah Ray, jr., Sun Prairie; Kristina Rohrer, jr., Madison West.
Hailey Anchor, fr., Wisconsin Dells; Mya Andrews, so., Marshall; Madalyn Arrowood, jr., Janesville Craig; Emma Bertz, jr., Waunakee; Katelyn Chadwick, so., Poynette; Isabelle Clary, sr., Lodi; Gianna Dugan, jr., Marshall; McKenzie Fillner, jr., Evansville; Christi Forman, jr., Waterloo; Cecily Greblo, fr., Madison West; Makenzie Hottinger, so., Jefferson; Claire Huggett, sr., Marshall; Peighton Nelson, so., Monona Grove; Anna Ollendick, so., Mount Horeb; Margaret Ross, sr., Stoughton; Lauren Winslow, so., Lake Mills.