Verona Girls Cross Country - Anna Knueve

Verona junior Anna Knueve finished 13th (20:17.3) in the Big Eight Conference Meet on Saturday, Oct. 19, at Rockport Park in Janesville. She earned second-team all-conference honors.

Verona junior Anna Knueve isn’t a fan of running up steep hills bedded with jagged rocks, but she faced her fears Saturday, Oct. 19, during the Big Eight Conference Meet at Rockport Park in Janesville.

Knueve avoided a devastating fall to finish 13th with a time of 20:17.3 on the 5,000-meter course. She earned second-team all-conference honors despite having to navigate a hill covered with rocks.

“Everyone was basically jogging up it,” she said. “It was so steep. I usually try to start out fast and try to hold on. That’s the way I like to race and be competitive.”

“I’ve never known someone so dedicated to being her best, given what she has to work with some of her health issues,” Verona coach Dave Nelson said of Knueve. “She has worked through some anemia and bone-density issues. Her body doesn’t allow her to run every day.”

Verona finished sixth with 146 points.

Middleton, ranked fifth in Division 1 in the Wisconsin Cross Country Coaches Association Poll, had four of the top 12 runners to win the team title with 41 points, just ahead of sixth-ranked Madison West (44 points).

Middleton sophomore Lauren Pansegrau was the individual champion with a time of 18:05, 10 seconds ahead of Madison West sophomore Genevieve Nashold.

“The Big Eight Conference by far is the best conference in the state,” Nelson said. “For her (Knueve) to be anything all-conference is a tremendous compliment to her.

Sophomore Payette Neess took 21st (20:42.7), and freshman Sotera Boado placed 35th (21:35.5) for Verona. Senior Jamie Hogan finished 37th (21:38.8), and sophomore Emma Petta placed 40th (21:51).

Verona senior Abby Wampfler missed the conference meet because of an illness.

“We are going to save her for next week,” Nelson said. “We have a lot to look forward to. We will use sectionals as an opportunity to grow, learn and kind of build momentum for our returners into next season.”

Verona will compete in the Division 1 Madison West Sectional on Saturday at Lake Farm Park. The top two teams and the next five individuals not on the top two teams advance to state.

The Wildcats are in a stacked sectional with Middleton, Madison West and Madison Memorial.

“I think it will be a tough competition for the fourth and fifth spots,” Knueve said. “There are a lot of us who are really close together.”

Four teams from the Big Eight finished in the top 10 at state last year.