While on a spring break vacation in Arizona, Stoughton High School sophomore Mallory Reiser made sure to pack her running shoes.
She didn’t want to miss out on any cross country training.
The offseason and spring break running paid off, as Reiser finished fourth in a WIAA sectional in 20 minutes, 32.7 seconds on Saturday, May 1 at SHS, qualifying for state.
The team finished third in the sectional with 128 points, one spot out of qualifying for state. Zaemisch said the third-place finish was a pleasant surprise.
“I think it will definitely motivate them,” she said. “We have two sophomores — Jordan (Packard) and Charlotte (Franseen) already looking to get back into it. They have seen what Mallory was able to do with her training when she put all of those base miles on in the summer.”
Stoughton senior Gina Owen took 22nd (22:46.2) and freshman Sophia Nortwen finished 27th with a season-best time of 23 minutes, more than 3 minutes faster than her previous fastest time. Zaemisch said Nortwen had an outstanding performance.
Stoughton sophomore Bethany Albers, who has attended only two practices the past two weeks because of her participation in softball and cross country, placed 30th in a season-best time of 23:03.5. Senior Julia Schuyler took 45th with a season-best time of 24:14.1.
For Reiser, spending a week running in a higher altitude helped her with the race, she said.
“When I came back I was like, ‘Oh it’s so easy to breathe here.’ I think it made a difference.”
Reiser said her goal was to run in the 20-minute range after two straight meets at 21 minutes.
“I knew I could do more,” she said. “Today, I definitely showed I could do more.”
Reiser gained more confidence coming down the stretch with friends and Stoughton fans lining up at the finish.
“Having people cheer for you at every spot and hearing ‘Go Stoughton’ was really motivating,” Reiser said.
Stoughton coach Susan Zaemisch said Reiser started training more than a year ago during the COVID-19 shutdown.
“She put in a ton of miles in the offseason,” Zaemisch said. “We knew once she got back from spring break she would be OK and would just have to put in some speed work.”
Oregon sophomore Dasha Vorontsov won an individual sectional championship with a time of 19 minutes, 26.7.
Oregon dominated the sectional, with five runners finishing in the top 10. The Panthers scored 31 points to finish well ahead of the 12-team sectional field. New Glarus/Monticello scored 92 points for the second and final state team berth.