Courtesy of several runners, the Wilmot Union High School boys country team notched its first Southern Lakes Conference title in more than 30 years on Oct. 13, when the Panthers hit the Burlington High School woods course (Mike Ramczyk).

By Troy Sparks

On a muddy course Oct. 13 at the Burlington School Forest, the Wilmot Union High School boys cross country team snapped a 36-year drought to win the Southern Lakes Conference championship, courtesy of five runners who finished in the top 15.

The Panthers, who accounted for 55 points, finished 14 points ahead of second place Union Grove.

Westosha Central placed sixth at 132 points.

“Winning conference is the greatest accomplishment for myself, the boys and the program,” Wilmot coach William Dinegan said. “I feel good for our senior guys, especially our four-year letter winners (Kyle Diedrich, Jordan Paulsen, Alex Wank and Shawn Davis), who finished near the bottom of the conference as freshmen and gradually worked their way up in the standings and get to finish on top as seniors.”

Paulsen’s senior leadership led the Panthers to the title. He finished sixth overall with a time of 17 minutes, 35.44 seconds.

Junior Blake Zager (9, 17:41.22), Wank (11, 17:51.80), Diedrich (14, 18:09.01) and sophomore Kody Molitor (15, 18:09.01) rounded out the Panthers top five.

Senior Leif Triller (17th, 18:11.68) and junior James Raymond (18th, 18:20.19) also finished in the top 20.

“We will miss (the seniors) next year and I owe them a huge debt of thanks for all the work they put in during their high school careers as well as my assistant coach Marc Paulsen, who was instrumental in helping this group achieve their potential,” Dinegan said. “Winning a conference championship will hopefully generate more interest in the sport and inspire younger runners to build on what this year’s team did.”

Paulsen, who finished in the top seven, earned first team all-conference while Zager, Wank and Diedrich received second team honors.

“Five of our runners made the top 15 and seven were in the top 20,” Dinegan said. “It was by far the best race any Wilmot team has run in my 13 years as coach and probably one of the best races ever run by a Wilmot cross country team.”

For the girls, meanwhile, the Panthers placed sixth with 169 points.

Waterford accounted for 36 points to win the girls meet.

Panthers junior Tara Nopenz finished 25th at 23:19.99 to lead the team.

Seniors Haley Lamberson (32, 24:04.04), Karoline Klahs (39, 24:25.42), junior Ella Hoist (41, 24:34.50) and sophomore Rylee Thiel (44, 25:20.96) rounded out the scoring.

Westosha Central, which saw another stellar performance from junior Heaven Anderson, placed third at 90 points.

Falcon trio earn conference recognition
Anderson, a WIAA Division 1 state qualifier last year, finished second among girls at 20:02.28 en route to first team all-conference honors.

Sophomore Kelsi Santos (10, 22:09) earned second team recognition.

Freshman Arianna Eiler (22, 23:05.25) and seniors Jessica (27, 23:27.52) and Jenna Sheen (33, 24:06.24) rounded out the top five in scoring.

“We ran well today,” Olsen said. “The girls team placing third was a strong performance after finishing behind Elkhorn at our invite and at conference relays earlier this season. Heaven ran an aggressive race and led most of the way. Kelsi is a great runner who ran a great, smart race. The rest of our girls ran our race plan to perfection. Kelsi Santos earning all-conference second team was a terrific race for her.”

For the sixth place boys, freshman Will Allen placed fifth, registering in at 17:32.70 to achieve first team honors.

“While our boys were not able to move up places from the relays, we definitely closed the gaps on teams since then,” coach Keith Olsen said. “This was easily one of the most balanced and most competitive conference meets we have ever had.”

“Will took it out very aggressively and led until the mile,” Olsen said. “To be all-conference as a freshman shows some great potential. The rest of the team followed up nicely continuing to improve our whole pack attack philosophy.”

Junior Carson Edquist (29, 18:42.58), sophomore Frank Quinones (32, 18:48.32), junior Kyle Pflug (33, 18:50.02) and sophomore Dylan Hartnek (33, 18:58.60) rounded out the scoring.


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