Everywhere you looked at Grant Park on Friday there were smiles showing for the Wauwatosa West boys and girls cross country teams.
That was because the boys finished second and the girls third in the Woodland Conference Cross Country Championships.
Shorewood won the event with 38 points, but Tosa West's 80 points were well ahead of third-place New Berlin West boys team (106).
"I'm very happy to have finished second as a team," Trojans coach Mike Vann said. "This was our best conference finish in 10 years. More importantly, our guys really responded to the challenge.
"Our three, four and five runners needed to reach down and find something extra today and that's what they did. I couldn't be more proud of our team. My compliments go out to Shorewood on the championship. They are so deep and so disciplined, they put a pretty good gap on the rest of us. They're one of the top teams in the state."
On the girls side Pewaukee (55) nipped Shorewood (58) for the title, but West's girls scored 85 points, well ahead of fourth-place New Berlin West (111).
The highlight of the day came when West's dynamic duo of senior Patrick Campbell and junior Taylor Floyd-Mews finished first and second in the boys race. Campbell won in 15 minutes, 32 seconds while Floyd-Mews ran a 15:42.
"This meet was a continuation of what Patrick and Taylor have done all year," Vann said. "They've both trained so well and competed so consistently that it's really gratifying to see it pay off with a great conference finish and great race times leading into the state tournament.
"For the team it's a tremendous inspiration to have those two come in first and second. For the other guys, knowing you have two of the best on your side adds a lot of confidence and energy as you line up at the start."
The Trojans' other three scorers were sophomores Alec Kirtley with a solid 18th (16:59) and Dominic Longo at 29th (17:40) and senior Kevin Dettlaff at 30th (17:43).
"This was a special meet for Alec Kirtley," Vann said. "He broke the 17-minute milestone and finished third-team all-conference. Alec has done a great job this season fighting through the tough meets and the tough workouts and now we're seeing the great race times.
"And he's not done yet. I'm very excited to see what he runs next week at sectionals."
Longo and Dettlaff really stepped up for the team also.
"They both knew that for the team to finish well that they would need to run big personal best times," Vann said. "Dropping nearly 30 seconds, they came through. It was a truly inspired effort.
Also running for Vann's young squad were sophomores Ryan Lisser (47th, 18:26) and Tony Kolafa (58th, 18:57) and John Dettlaff (65th, 19:11), who all ran personal records.
Another reason to smile was the fact that Vann has a junior and four sophomores out of his top seven.
Seniors led girls
On the girls side, coach Jack LoPresti had four seniors among his seven runners, including four in his top five.
Leading the way were seniors Katelyn Hronek, who finished ninth (15:45) and Brigid Jensen, who finished 13th (15:56). Freshman Anna Rogahn was right there with Jensen at 14th (15:56), while seniors Casey Grabow and Maggie Boyle were 21st (16:14) and 28th (16:29), respectively.
"We decided before the meet to pack our top three runners together and they did an excellent job," LoPresti said. "Katelyn Hronek was our number one, followed by Brigid Jensen and superfrosh Rogahn."
Grabow improved her time from 18:42 two years ago to 16:14.
"It is great to see someone grow in confidence over four years and Casey has done that," LoPresti said. "She works hard and it has paid off.
"Maggie ran an excellent race as well," LoPresti said. "Mags are just a great leader for our team and a true competitor. She has really had a great senior year after a junior year filled with injuries."
LoPresti's two other runners - Caitlin Campbell (32nd, 16:35) and Claire Langan (36th, 16:45) - are in the future plans since they are a freshman and junior.
"Super frosh Caitlin Campbell is really running well; getting better every week," LoPresti added. "There is just no ceiling to how fast she will go this fall.
"And Claire Langan is a gutsy, tough, tough runner who is getting better every week."
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