Rain and cold don't both North Shore champion Bay girls CC team

Nicolet's Cunningham wins girls, Bay's Gomoll boys race

Oct. 17, 2012

There's an old saw that goes something like this: Cross country runners love cool and rainy conditions.

So the North Shore Conference competitors must have been in seventh heaven when the Whitefish Bay girls won their 13th title in a row Oct. 13 at Tendick Park in Saukville, where Nicolet's Lauren Cunningham dominated the individual race.

Meanwhile, the Homestead boys came up just five points short of their first title since 2002, with Bay's Nate Gomoll repeating as individual champion.

Wet is wonderful?

"This is the best," noted Gomoll, just a touch sarcastically about the cool, wet conditions heightened by a bit of wind. "True cross country weather. But this did feel good wet or not. The goal was to go out (with the lead pack) and then drop them on the hill (at Tendick Park in Saukville)."

"Mills (coach Mike Miller) says that this is our kind of weather," said Bay girls team leader Sara Coffey, who was third.

WIAA sectional action will be next for the Bay, Homestead and Nicolet squads on Saturday and everyone appears to be ready.

"I just keep surprising myself," said Cunningham. "I just lean on my strength from God and stay focused. I'm ready to go out and run with the best."

For Miller, whose girls have been a fixture at state for more than a decade, this particular conference title was particularly gratifying as he had so many new faces leading the way.

Conference roommates

"Including three freshmen (Hannah Lyons, Claire Hentzen and Kylee Kennedy) and four new faces overall," he said.

But Sara (Coffey) is our leader. She sets the pace and we know the team is in good hands with her."

Lyons was second on the 4,000-meter layout in 15:28 while Coffey was third (15:48) as Bay scored just 25 points, well ahead of runner-up Grafton (58) as Nicolet was fifth (125) and Homestead sixth (145).

"This is always important," said Coffey of conference. "We embrace the new kids and move on. It's the way it is around here. Look at Hannah (Lyons) - she ran like she was a senior."

Other scoring runners for Bay included Hentzen in fourth (15:48), Haleigh Morton in seventh (16:06), and Jessica O'Neill in ninth (16:19). Lyons, Coffey, Hentzen and Morton were all first-team All-North Shore.

O'Neill was second-team all-conference, along with the lone senior running this day, Lina Schaefer in 13th (16:33). Honorable mention choices were Kennedy in 19th (16:39) and Alana Blegen in 21st (16:45).

Meeting goals

"It's fun and intense being part of the tradition," said Lyons.

"Expectations are the same every year," Miller said. "We cover them with the new kids on the first day. 'Here are the records, I know a lot of you were just one or two when they were set, but if you work hard, you can get to that level.'"

Cunningham took herself to another level. She was a good 36 seconds clear of Lyons on the 4,000-meter course in 14:52. She has been under 15 minutes for virtually every race this season and thinks that she is building for huge runs at sectional and state on Oct. 27.

"At a running camp in Bradley this summer, they asked us to write down goals at the end," she said. "I wrote down 14:45. I didn't know I could get there, but I have," alluding to her school record 14:23 at the Fond du Lac Relays earlier this fall.

Other solid efforts for the Knights included Elizabeth Mowers in 26th (16:55), Hilary Miller in 29th (16:58) and Katie Novak in 30th (16:58).

The Homestead girls were led by honorable mention all-conference selection Elisabeth Balistreri, who was 24th in 16:49 while Abby Claussen was 25th (16:54), Diana Gertel 27th (16:56) and Anna Keller 33rd (16:59).

Gomoll and the other boys

For the boys, Gomoll broke away for a 14-second win over a Port runner in 16:03 on the 5,000-meter layout. He's looking to coast through the sectional to state and then look for big things when he gets to Wisconsin Rapids on Oct. 27.

"Nate did well," Miller said. "He ran comfortably. To run a 16:03 on a day like today under these conditions by himself, was impressive."

Bay finished fourth in the team standings with 94 points as Nick Hotz in 19th (17:22) and George Papajohn in 21st (17:25) were honorable mention all-conference. Andrew Searles was 25th (17:31), Carson Schier 28th (17:38), Eddie Pencak 29th (17:40), and Blake Bostwick 30th (17:41).

Homestead boys coach Dan Claussen could only shake his head and say "What if?" as Port edged his Highlanders, 45-50, for the team title, despite a strong race by Homestead.

"We wanted Alex (Vielmetti) to go out and run by himself and then have the other five run as a pack," he said. "It worked out pretty well. We even had six runners in front of Port's fifth. But it is what it is."

Vielmetti in fourth (16:44) and Ben Jurenec (seventh, 16:53) both earned first-team all-league honors while Trevor Cho in 10th (17:02), Kale Mason in 14th (17:13) and Conner Knuth in 15th (17:14) all claimed second-team as did sixth runner Evan Routhier in 16th (17:16).

Aiming for state

UP NEXT: The Bay runners, both of whom had teams qualify for the WIAA state meet last season, will take part in the sectional at Washington Park in Milwaukee. The boys race is at 11 a.m. and the girls is at 11:45 a.m. Meanwhile, Nicolet and Homestead will be at Arrowhead with the boys race at 10:30 a.m. and the girls at 11:15 a.m. The top two teams and first five individuals not on those teams will advance to the WIAA State Meet in Wisconsin Rapids on Oct. 27. Bay boys and girls advanced as full teams last year and Vielmetti for Homestead and Cunningham for Nicolet, qualified as individuals.

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