Cross country runner Jacob Korf finished sixth out 69 male competitors while the Whippets competed at the Rock Valley Conference Meet Oct. 12. (Bob Mischka photo)



By Troy Sparks

SLN correspondent

There were some expectations and surprises for the Whitewater boys and girls cross-country teams at the Rock Valley Conference meet, which they hosted.

“The boys’ team goal was to be in the top three (in team points),” Whitewater coach Chad Carstens said. “The (East Troy) top runner dropped out with an injury with about 600 (meters) to go. I think that would have been the difference and we would have been fourth. Injuries are a part of our sport just like anybody else’s sport. I know that East Troy will be fierce and ready to go (in Sectionals).”

The Whippets scored 91 team points and finished behind Jefferson (64) and McFarland (30) at the Oct. 12 meet. The top five Whitewater boys finishers on the 5,000-meter course were senior Jacob Korf (sixth in 17 minutes 56.1 seconds), freshman Trenten Zahn, who was eighth in 18:00.1, senior Jon Brunner (16th, 18:20.0), sophomore Aidan Coburn (22nd, 18:49.4) and junior Jon Zheng (39, 19:50.9). Andrew Pahnke of McFarland won the race in 16:57.6. Nick Kuzoff (44th, 19:57.4) and Jack Mayer (58th, 20:58.1) also competed in the varsity race.

The top 24 individuals were split into three-tier, eight-member groups that made up the first, second and honorable mention teams. Korf and Zahn made first-team all-conference. Brunner made the second team and Coburn earned honorable mention.

“To have four runners make all-conference honors is excellent,” Carstens said. “Jacob was fifth last year and sixth this year. I think he got a little aggressive and it cost him a place or two. He’s still recovering from that knee injury and discovering his limits right now.”

All the runners had to navigate a difficult UW-Whitewater course on a rainy day.

“This is a hard (course), no question. This course is what I consider true cross-country. It’s got woods. It’s got open areas, flat areas, sweeping turns, sharp turns and gravel. It’s got it all,” Carstens said. “I would rate this as probably nine out of 10 in difficulty. We went to Verona for the first meet of the year and they rate theirs an eight-and-a-half. And I think ours is definitely harder than theirs.”

Korf isn’t still at full strength with his knee issues but he did enough to repeat as a first-team selection.

“I feel all right,” Korf said of his recovery from a knee injury. “I didn’t do as well as I was hoping but it’s still first team so I’m all right with it, It’s one of the hardest courses out there.”

Carstens said Zahn moved through the pack with ease and looked really good and determined to finish strong.

“I don’t know if I expected to be first team but I was hoping to be at least second team all-conference,” Zahn said.

Allisan Barrett was where she expected to be in the girls race. The senior was hurting during the race and hung in there to finish third overall with a time of 20:19.3. This wasn’t one of her best races of the year.

“It was just one of those days,” Barrett said. “I had soreness in my hamstring and a little (soreness) in my calf. I said, ‘You know what? I’m going to run (the race) and this is my last conference (meet) so I’m just going to do it.’ “

Barrett couldn’t catch Mariah Linse, the overall winner from Jefferson who won the race in 19:56.3, even though Barrett beat her in an earlier meet. Her focus is on the Division 2 Deerfield-Cambridge sectional meet Saturday in her quest to make it back to state.

“It’s not supposed to be a stressful meet and if I make it to state, great, and if I don’t, it was a great season,” Barrett said.

Brunner’s performance was a bit of a surprise for him, despite not having any realistic goals entering the season.

“I really came into the season with pretty low goals,” he said. “This is kind of a surprise.”

Junior Nicole Tomomitsu was a surprise honorable mention as well. She received a medal for finishing in the top 24. Her time of 22:08.1 was good for 19th place.

“I was just racing, I guess,” she said. “It was definitely a goal (to medal).”

The other Whitewater girls to complete the team scoring were Crystal Chan (27th, 22:39.8), Hailey Prager (30th, 22:47.0) and Jenna Lee (59th, 25:45.5). Bailee Korf was 61st overall (26:02.6) and Alayna Mikulski was 70th (28:30.2). The girls team finished fifth with 138 points.

Steven Witt led the Whitewater boys junior varsity team to a fifth-place finish with 136 points and finishing sixth overall in 20:26.4. Daniel Trost was 27th (21:27.1) and Alex Popke was 31st (21:51.8). William Hofmann and Amaru Casas finished within two seconds of each other (40th overall in 22:13.0 and 43rd in 22:15.3), completing the team scoring. Elliot McCulloch (63rd, 23:16.8), Carson Ellenwood (65th, 23:23.4), Andy Vo (72nd, 23:51.3) and Madison West (76th, 24:03.8) also competed for the JV.

Rosie Aschenbrener (59th, 31:58.3), Thais Padela (63rd, 34:03.3) and Sophia Wagner (67th, 34:40.0) ran in the girls JV race.


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