It’s not often the two Beloit high school teams get the opportunity to compete. Tuesday afternoon at Leeson Park, both schools showed well at a four-team cross country meet.
The girls race was won by Casey Behnke, the senior Turner harrier who has had an outstanding final season and ran a 16:49. The boys race was captured easily by Beloit Memorial junior Jack Klobucar, who out-ran runner-up teammate Morgan Poepping. Klobucar’s winning time was 17:42, some 31 seconds ahead of Poepping.
Behnke was paired at the head of the pack for the majority of the race with Parkview freshman Camryn Burtness, staying just ahead of her before pulling away a bit on a downhill slope with around 500 meters remaining in the race.
She ended up six seconds in front of the upstart Burtness.
“I knew I had to kick it in to finish,” Behnke said. “I could hear her breathing and I knew she had some left in the tank but I knew I could take her. I could tell she was tired, and I still had enough energy to finish strong.”
Klobucar continued his strong campaign for the Knights. He adds Tuesday’s first-place finish to a fourth-place finish at the Mt. Horeb Viking Invite and a fifth-place finish at the Demon Invitational.
“When you have a big lead like I did, it does make it really hard to run,” Klobucar said. “You don’t have anyone to push you, so it’s all about self-motivation. It doesn’t happen a lot because we have a pretty fast conference, but when you get that far ahead you just go as fast as you can and try to not lay off pace.”
Klobucar is encouraged with what the Knights have been able to accomplish thus far.
“This is the best team that we’ve had in probably 10 years,” Klobucar said. “This will be our third meet win, which hasn’t happened in a long time. Conference-wise, we are looking pretty good. We do have a tough conference, but I think as we get to the end of the year we are going to have a really goods season and you will see some really big ‘PR’s.”
Beloit Memorial coach Bob Shaver agreed that the boys team has a lot of potential. They ran away with the meet, scoring 18 points while second-place Turner ended with 49.
“We have a lot of kids are working very hard in practice,” Shaver said. “That’s starting to pay off. The biggest thing is that they are starting to run as a group, which is the key to having a successful team. They ran really hard over the summer.”
Although the Beloit Memorial girls team has more numbers than it has in the past, Shaver still believes there is room for growth in the program.
“The girls we have are really working hard,” he said. “I just wish we could get a few more in here. We have doubled the size of our team and a lot of them are new. We are trying to change that culture and get more girls out, starting in middle school.”
Ryan Pettit was the top Turner male finisher, placing third overall.
“I was pretty happy with the way today turned out,” Pettit said. “I thought it was a pretty solid course. We ran it a lot over the summer for our workouts but we haven’t run an actual course out here for a meet. It was good to be out here today.”
Pettit knows that reaching the state tournament again might not be a realistic goal for this year’s team, but believes the future is bright for the program.
“It’s nothing like we had last year because we lost Scott Swing and Jeff Pickett,” Pettit said. “But I like the team we have this year. We have a couple of freshman that are coming up that are just huge right now. I like the fact that we have a lot of talent for the future in the lower levels.”
Turner’s Marissa Brown (17:31) finished fourth overall, while Rebecca Sennett (17:49) placed fifth in the girls division. Turner won the girls meet easily with 26 points, followed by Parkview (55) and Beloit Memorial (60).
Beloit Memorial’s top female finisher was Katie Maegli, who finished in third place (17:30).