All season long, the Stoughton boys cross country team finished behind Monona Grove, no matter the meet or location.
The Vikings turned the tables on the Silver Eagles on Saturday, Oct. 19, as they won the Badger South Conference meet at Fort Atkinson High School.
Stoughton won its first conference title since 2000 with 50 points, just ahead of MG (57). The Vikings switched their tactics from an aggressive approach a week previous to a conservative one at the conference meet, and the move paid off.
Stoughton boys coach Patrick Schneider said the team also benefited from an underdog mentality.
“They ran almost a perfect race from what we talked about earlier in the week strategy-wise,” Schneider said. “Every one of them executed the way they were supposed to. They had great kicks and stayed mentally strong.”
Sophomores Jayden Zywicki and Colton Hansen received first-team all-conference recognition for their performances.
Zywicki finished third with a time of 16:49.1, pulling away from a pack of several runners in the final 800 meters. Hansen took seventh with a time of 17:06.8.
“I got a second wind over by the baseball field because it’s conference and I knew we had to beat MG,” Zywicki said. “The one hill isn’t as bad as it looks, and it’s actually an easier course because it’s flatter.”
Senior Gavin Model and junior Christian Smith were second-team all-conference honorees. Model raced to ninth with a time of 17:14.6, and Smith took 12th (17:21.8).
Junior Cade Millam rounded out the Vikings’ counting times in 19th (17:43.4). Junior Alexander Wicks (21st, 17:49.4) and senior Jack Albert (28th, 18:04.2) also competed.
Edgewood junior Leo Richardson won the individual title with a time of 16:05, more than 35 seconds ahead of senior teammate Jack Brolin.
Stoughton senior Grace Jenny won the girls individual conference title with a time of 19:06.3, outlasting Oregon freshman Dasha Vorontsov (19:10).
Jenny has had her fair share of injuries throughout her career, but found strength down the stretch with an injured classmate in mind.
“My friend Maria Buckles broke her neck and was unable to finish the season,” Jenny said. “With about a mile to go, my coach told me to run for her. I knew I couldn’t let her down, so I picked it up and finished.”
The Vikings placed third in the team standings with 88 points. Junior Gina Owen was a second-team all-conference honoree in 13th place (20:44.1).
Sophomores G Gibson (21:10.5) and Hannah Lawrence (21:15) finished 20th and 23rd, respectively, and senior Molly Olstad rounded out Stoughton’s counting times in 31st (21:35.4). Junior Ellie Trieloff (37th, 22:01) and freshman Mallory Reiser (38th, 22:09.7) also competed.
“I thought our girls raced their hearts out,” Stoughton girls coach Susan Zaemisch said. “They’ve really invested a lot of time and energy, and they trust the program and each other.”
Monona Grove won the girls team title with 44 points thanks to all five runners in the top 18.
Both Stoughton teams will compete in the Division 1 Kettle Moraine Sectional on Saturday at Naga-Waukee Park in Hartland. The top two teams and the next five individuals not on the top two teams advance to state.