Editor’s note: Running and Beyond is a biweekly column written by Kenosha Running Company president Brian Thomas that will run every other Wednesday. The column focuses on all things running in Kenosha County. Thomas can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
The fall season is in high gear for high school and college cross country programs in Kenosha County.
In the high school ranks, teams are in the final weeks of the season and preparing for conference and sectionals meets.
In the most recent state rankings, the St. Joseph boys team — led by Rocco Matteucci — was 10th in Division-3. The Indian Trail boys team, meanwhile, has been in and out of the top 20 in Division-1 and is the top-ranked team in its sectional.
Now, let’s take a look at the Carthage and UW-Parkside programs, as they’re at their midseason points and the teams are taking shape. The women typically run a 5K or 6K distance, while the men run an 8K distance during this phase of the season.
Carthage women’s cross country coach Stephanie Domin shared the following on her team:
“The Reds have competed in four meets, and each meet we have made improvements, packed up better, reduced our 1-7 split and gained confidence, and the hard work is paying off.
“We do have a few things to work on, such as trusting our ability, working through the second half of the race and finishing harder, in return passing more runners at the end of the race.
“The team is a mix of experienced runners and newcomers. Our top seven runners are experienced and have done a nice job building into each race.
“Senior Johnelle Miner has led the team in three of our four meets. She has progressed nicely over the four years and as recently as Friday at Augustana had a lifetime PR of 23:23 for the 6K course.
“Senior Carly Egan led our team to a fourth-place finish at the Lucian Rosa Invite at Parkside. She had a season PR of 23:53 at the Brissman-Lundeen Invite. Junior Laura Sanders has been our No. 3 runner and has had a great season keeping the top three runners close.
“Our 4-9 runners have been interchangeable the entire season. This group has been instrumental in moving closer to our top three, as each meet they have reduced the 1-7 split and have worked hard at running together and working together in practice and meets.
“The group consists of senior Molly McQueeny, junior Kate Wille, senior Tyra Wooster and senior Bri Kloster. Indian Trail graduate and freshman Kerigann Ballard broke into our top 7 this past week, as well.
“Like many college athletes, it takes a few weeks to new race distances and a new environment. Kerigann had an amazing race in Rock Island, Ill., taking over a minute off her season best 25:10. I see Kerigann making a huge impact to our team over the next four years. She is a strong runner that is committed to her goals. Kerigann has come from a great Kenosha program and understands the hard work and dedication it takes to succeed.
“The team is a great group, and all 20 girls contribute positively in some way. They all have made cross country a priority in college and have balanced their academics and athletics wonderfully. The team carries a 3.4 GPA and year after year features Academic All-Americans.
“The upperclassmen have been great leaders, and our newcomers are adjusting wonderfully as well.”
Carthage men’s cross country coach Josh Henry is optimistic for a strong finish to the season and shared this:
“This season has marked a changing of the guard, as we graduated three extremely accomplished runners from our top 7 last year.
“The opportunity has resulted in several athletes stepping up and finding success in their new roles. We have been led by junior Thomas Olenek in every race so far this year, which has come as no surprise as he is coming off a very strong sophomore track season.
“We have also seen incredible growth from senior Eric Schmitt and junior Justin Corrigan. Kenosha Christian Life graduate Steven Wright has also been a very consistent presence in our top five during each meet of his junior season.
“Adding to the strong presence of Kenosha runners are are Zak Schwartz (senior), Indian Trail graduates Warren Wolchuck (senior) and Jacob Labatore (senior) and St. Joseph graduate Cam Mills (sophomore).
“We have also been encouraged by the performances from a strong group of freshman athletes. Among that freshman group, both Aidan Lodwig and Chase Upmann have broken into our scoring five in each of the last two meets.
“Looking ahead, we have one remaining meet in October with the competitive UW-Oshkosh Kollegetown Invitational on Oct. 19. This will give us an opportunity to race a competitive field and gain experience on the NCAA Midwest Regional course.
“The remainder of the month we will be focused on preparing for the CCIW Championships, which will be held on Nov. 2 at Augustana. Overall, we are very optimistic heading into the championship portion of our schedule, as we feel we have a lot of room for improvement even with a strong start to the season.”
UW-Parkside men’s and women’s cross country coach Nick Mass, in his first season with the Rangers, shared his insight on developing and building a strong program:
“Over the past several years, Racine native Amanda Johnson has led the women’s team and has been great during her senior year.
“She has a desire to be the best she can be at everything she sets her mind to. She has a special connection to Parkside and her community, as she also coaches a youth running program in Racine. She has her sights on being an All-American this year and has an excellent chance to realize that goal.
“Becca Jasutish has had a strong start to her senior season and has made significant improvement since last season. She has improved her personal best times on several occasions already this season and is our solid No. 2 runner.
“The women’s team as a whole is a competitive group of ladies that has a tremendous passion for the sports of cross country and track and field. They do all of the little things right and are extremely team-oriented. We are building a team that is focused on a family feel that is encouraging on and off the course.
“On the men’s team, Brock Eves has led the team this season and in the process has overcome injuries that have kept him from his best times for the majority of his career. It was on of our objectives to create a formula that would allow him to be at his best and stay healthy.
“Our efforts have been working, as he recently won the UW-Parkside Lucian Rosa Invite and placed in the top 20 in a Michigan State Invite with numerous talented Division I programs. His season goal of becoming an All-American seems within reach with each passing week.
“The men’s team has a tenacious attitude, and its work ethic reflects a completely different team than a year ago, when they placed a disappointing seventh at the Great Lakes Intercollegiate Athletic Conference Championships. They have already shown vast improvement in the early season meets and should see more of the same as we prepare for the balance of the season.
“Both the men’s and women’s team have goals this season to be in the top four at the GLIAC Championships and among the top 10 programs in the NCAA Midwest Regional Championships.
“We love the fact that 90 percent of our team is from within three hours of campus, because it creates a tight-nit program that shows commitment to bringing in locally talented student-athletes.
“The biggest thing I can say about this team is that it has embraced out “Forward Together” theme. They try not to dwell on the past and just focus on getting better as a team.
“The family atmosphere here is also palpable. Each of our team members truly cares about the others, and that is even felt within my family as my daughter and wife have fully integrated into the team and university culture. We’re looking forward to a bright future for UW-Parkside cross country and track and field.”
Here are some upcoming running events in Kenosha County:
nOct. 20: Wolf Pack Trail Run and Relay and Trail Dog Distance Classic at Bong State Recreation Area. Runners, walkers and dog-friendly events with distances from 4.5 miles to 50 miles. For more information, visit www.XCThrillogy.com.
nNov. 9: Evil Smiley Running Veteran’s Day Run at UW-Parkside campus and Kenosha County Bike Path. Distances are 10K and two miles. For more information, visit www.XCThrillogy.com.