Verona junior Anna Knueve couldn’t hold back the rush of tears at the finish of the Division 1 Madison West Sectional.

Knueve finished 14th with a time of 19:52.25, which was 6.9 seconds and two spots away from qualifying for state.

“I knew I was a little short,” she said. “It’s disappointing being that close. I gave it everything I had.”

Knueve made up ground on the third mile and put herself in position down the stretch.

“I came back on the girls in the third mile, but it wasn’t enough,” she said. “I didn’t get to train all summer, so my base isn’t as strong. That last mile is really hard for me because I don’t have the base a lot of the other girls have.”

Knueve will now look forward to the track & field season in the spring and more training in the summer.

“I think it will give me a lot of motivation going into track and next year’s cross country season,” she said. “Knowing this feeling, I don’t want it to happen again.”

Verona took sixth out of 12 teams with 182 points. Senior Jamie Hogan took 29th (20:46), and sophomore Payette Neess was 34th (21:08.4). Freshman Sotera Boado placed 47th (21:51.3), and Colleen Quinn was 58th (22:19.5).

Middleton sophomore Lauren Pansegrau ran away with the individual sectional title, finishing the race in 17:54.7. The Cardinals had four runners finish in the top 10 en route to the team title with 32 points.

Madison West qualified for state with 60 points, led by sophomore Genevieve Nashold’s second-place finish (18:18).

“Next year we need to ramp up our training so we can compete with Middleton, Madison West and Madison Memorial,” Verona coach Dave Nelson said. “We will have to set some lofty goals.”