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Cheese sprint to Badger South title
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Badger South Standings

Monroe 47

Fort Atkinson 76

Stoughton 76

Edgewood 94

Monona Grove 95

Milton 130

Oregon 170

FORT ATKINSON - The Monroe boys cross country team had three runners in the top 10 to run away with the Badger South Conference championship Saturday at the Koshkonong Mounds Country Club.

The Cheesemakers outdistanced Stoughton 47-75 for their 21st conference championship and sixth in the last eight years on a course with challenging hills.

"The No. 1 biggest goal was to bring the 21st overall conference title back to Monroe," Monroe boys cross country coach Dave Hirsbrunner said. "Our No. 2 goal was to get our top five runners all to earn all-conference status. Mission accomplished."

Monroe senior Dylan Starck finished second with a time of 16 minutes, 58 seconds, which was just three seconds behind Madison Edgewood's Joe McKenna. Monroe junior Joel Henry finished eighth (17:41) and sophomore Steve Christiansen was ninth (17:45) to round out the trio of first team all-conference runners for the Cheesemakers.

Starck and McKenna pulled away from the field with just under a mile to go. Starck made a move with about 400 meters to go to take the lead. However, Starck fell twice just a few meters from the finish line and McKenna passed him to win the individual conference championship.

"It was a terrible thing to have happen at that point of a race and this important of a meet," Hirsbrunner said. "Dylan had run the perfect race. He had followed our race strategy perfectly and basically had the race won. I don't think we will ever know how it happened or what caused it. He was sprinting pretty hard and the ground seemed to just come up and meet him. I'm glad he's not physically hurt, but I know how much he wanted that individual title to go along with his team title."

Hirsbrunner was proud of the consistent races from Henry and Christiansen.

"They worked together and maintained their solid positioning throughout the entire race," he said. "A lot happens during a 5k. Joel has been there before. He's battle tested and solid."

Monroe freshman Ethan Moehn took 13th (17:50) and junior Luke Peterson was 15th (17:51) to finish as second team all-conference. It's only the third time the Cheesemakers have had their top five runners all receive all-conference honors in Hirsbrunner's coaching tenure.

It was Peterson's first race in three weeks due to a knee injury.

"He was kind of a wild card," Hirsbrunner said of Peterson. "We didn't know what to expect. I am very proud of how he gutted it out and still earned all conference status even with the lay off. He's a tremendous competitor."

Moehn had the fastest time for freshmen in the conference. Moehn is in elite company as a freshman. There are only two other runners who have earned all-conference honors as a freshman in Hirsbrunner's coaching career - Scott Mosher in 1996 (13th place) and Brett DeNure in 2005 (eighth) and both went on to become four-time all-conference runners.

"Ethan has picked up this 5k thing awfully well for a kid with his experience level," Hirsbrunner said. "He's never run distance before this past summer. He's fit in with the experienced runners and wants to be the best he can be and will do whatever it takes to do just that."

Monroe now prepares for the WIAA Division 2 Platteville sectional which includes third ranked Dodgeville.

"They have one of if not the best team in the state along with the best runner in the state in Division 2 (Trevor Wunnicke)," Hirsbrunner said. "We look forward to the challenge and will do our best."