It's the time of year the Shorewood cross country program lives for.
After emphatic victories by both the boys and girls teams in the Woodland Conference meet last Friday at Sheridan Park, the Greyhounds are ready to make their mark in the state series.
They host a WIAA Division 2 sectional meet on Friday at Kern Park with the girls race at 4 p.m. and the boys at 4:45 p.m. The top two teams and first five individuals not on those teams will advance to the WIAA state meet Nov. 2 in Wisconsin Rapids.
The defending state champion Greyhound boys will face a serious challenge in Wisconsin Lutheran, which beat Shorewood by a fair margin at an invitational earlier this season. The two teams came out of the last state poll tied for the top spot in the Division 2 rankings.
Greyhounds coach Dominic Newman is looking forward to the challenge.
"We're motivated and focused," Newman said. "We're hosting and Sarah (girls coach Kopplin) and I are hoping to host the best meet possible. We're also both hoping to have the best race possible."
"We'll try not to focus on other teams so much because we know we have enough work of our own to do," said Shorewood's top runner Charlie Stahl. "We've been working well together in races and that will definitely help us in races going forward."
Meanwhile, Kopplin's girls team will try to build on its league title and its strong third-place finish at state last season. The team enters the meet ranked fifth as Lutheran is ranked second behind Madison Edgewood.
"The girls had a great race (at conference) and to run that well at this point in the year and to have everyone healthy is a great thing for us," said Kopplin. "We look forward to sectionals."
Kopplin's ace, now two-time Woodland Conference champ Morgan Florsheim can't wait for Friday.
"This team has been ready to do big things ever since last year," she said. "We know we can always improve in our race technique. That we can get better every time out."
The two Greyhound squads didn't look like they needed much to improve on in their efforts at the conference test. The boys won its second straight title and 14th in the last 15 years with the effort.
Newman said they got a huge boost from the junior varsity that ran just before the varsity as that Greyhound unit swept the first seven spots including an impressive individual victory by sophomore Gus Wettstein (17 minutes, 46 seconds over the 5,000-meter course).
"That was just inspiring to the (varsity) guys and as a coach, it's just very exciting for the future," Newman said.
The varsity then went out and turned in a 40-point effort, well ahead of runner-up New Berlin Eisenhower (88).
Stahl turned in a spectacular runner-up effort of 15:56 to lead the way as Tosa West's Taylor FloydMews won in 15:44.
Stahl got support from Sam Kuhlmann in third (16:20), Jack Mauer in 10th (17:06), Mayan Essak in 11th (17:07) and Sam Shields in 14th (17:14). Also running were Johnnie Papineau in 15th (17:16) and Dylan Larson-Harsch in 20th (17:25).
Every varsity runner earned either first, second or third-team all-conference honors as Stahl and Kuhlmann were first-team, and Mauer, Essak, Shields and Papineau were second-team.
"Getting everyone all-conference is a goal we strive for," Newman said.
"The times weren't great across the board," said Stahl, "but we're pretty happy as a whole. Everyone is in a good place right now."
As are the girls, as the Greyhounds got a one-two-three individual sweep en route to a dominating 29-point total. Pewaukee was far back in second with 77. It was just the second league title in school history, including one earned two years ago.
Florsheim was 36 seconds clear of the field on the 4,000-meter layout in 14:33, while freshman Micaela Gayner was second (15:09) and Haley Florsheim was third (15:11).
"Morgan is a very driven runner and is ticking off goals every week this season," said Kopplin. "It was a big jump for Haley and Micaela to run two-three like that, but we were confident that it could happen."
"We were really excited by this," said Morgan Florsheim of the sweep. "It's a very nice victory and confirmed some of the goals that we had. Everything just came together nicely."
Also serving as scoring runners were Laura Gould in 10th (16:11) and Haley Woyak in 13th (16:20). Also running were Lindsey Norris in 29th (16:51) and Alison Reinhofer in 31st (16:58).
"The girls had a great race and to run that well at this point in the year and to have everyone healthy is a great thing for us as we look toward sectionals," Kopplin said. "I was so impressed with how they responded since we are still training hard for the next couple of weeks."
Junior Olivia Wycklendt won the individual title in the junior varsity race (16:49).
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