Both Oregon cross country teams will have a representative at the Division 1 state meet Saturday in Wisconsin Rapids.
Freshman Dasha Vorontsov will represent the girls after finishing fourth with a time of 19:40 at the Kettle Moraine Sectional on Saturday, Oct. 26, and sophomore Yordanos Zelinski will represent the boys after a 14th-place finish in 17:12.7.
“Dasha is not a typical freshman, and she’s been inspired and motivated by a great team,” Oregon girls coach Doug Debroux said. “She’s motivated her teammates by how hard she works. She’s earned this.”
Vorontsov put together another strong performance at Naga-Waukee Park in Hartland, a week after finishing second behind Stoughton senior Grace Jenny at the Badger South Conference meet. The girls’ Division 1 state race is slated to start at 12:40 p.m. Saturday at The Ridges Golf Course.
“We train the whole season to get ready to peak at conference and sectionals, and I think she’ll maintain that peak,” Debroux said of Vorontsov. “All I know is she’s going to race her heart out.”
The Oregon girls finished fourth out of 11 teams with 106 points, behind sectional champion Sun Prairie (34 points), fellow state qualifier Janesville Craig (81) and Oconomowoc (105).
Senior Zoe Frank finished four spots behind the fifth and final individual qualifier in 12th place (20:27.5). Junior Clara Hughes (21:15.7) and sophomore Grace Riedl (21:25.2) took 26th and 28th, respectively. Freshman Libby Beirne rounded out the Panthers’ counting times in 36th (21:43.8).
Sophomore Bella Murphy (42nd, 21:57.2) and senior Bryanna Salazar (46th, 22:05.6) also competed for Oregon.
Sun Prairie junior Kate Kopotic (19:02.1) and senior Hannah Ray (19:25.7) crossed the finish line as the top two runners.
Zelinski became the first Oregon boy to qualify for state since 2011, as he surged in the final 800 meters at scenic Naga-Waukee Park.
“The conference meet was relatively flat and only had one hill,” Oregon boys coach Erik Haakenson said. “The sectional was more of a trail run that had a nice challenging hill with a downhill roll through the beautiful park.”
The Oregon boys placed seventh out of 12 teams with 187 points. Freshman Leo Schleck took 26th with a time of 17:49.2. Junior Brenden Dieter placed 43rd (18:28.8), sophomore Turner Sieren was 50th (18:37.2) and senior Adam Hanke finished his high school career in 54th (18:55).
Freshmen Quinton Bush (60th, 19:12.9) and Owen Heiser (72nd, 20:01) also competed for the Panthers.
Oconomowoc’s Alexander Vance won the individual sectional title with a time of 15:55.2.
The boys’ Division 1 state race is slated to start at 2:35 p.m. Saturday at The Ridges Golf Course. Zelinski did not qualify as a freshman, and his coach is going into the meet with an open mind.
“I think he has a lot of expectations for himself. He’s always pushing himself to his limits,” Haakenson said of Zelinski. “For a young man with as much talent as he has, he’s still sort of an unknown because he still has untapped potential.”