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Monroe, Albany run hard
Photo for the Times: Christopher Heimerman Monroes Rachel Rogerson crosses a bridge as Albanys Courtney Pfeuti and a slew of other runners try to catch up during Saturdays Midwest Invitational in Janesville.
JANESVILLE - Tess Seichter's been the leader of the Cheesemaker pack for a while now. On Saturday, at one of the most prestigious prep events, she was a harsh critic in evaluating her performance.

"I had an off race," she state plainly amid the dozens of tents surrounding the finish line at the Midwest Invitational cross country meet.

But she followed that up immediately with a promise, stated as if to herself, that she'd just work harder on the next race.

So the Cheesemakers have an unquestioned leader. Now Monroe girls coach Brian Jefferson needs to find out who will close gaps behind her.

Seichter, a senior, would tell you she got off to a doomingly slow start with a 6-minute, 20-second first mile at Blackhawk Golf Course in Janesville. But, with a convincing 3:08 in the final 800 meters, she took 52nd at 16:25.73 - a personal best time this season.

Seichter's classmate, Tessa Frutiger, used a late kick to take over two spots and place 107th at 17:30.44, a season best by more than 20 seconds.

"That consistency is going to be something that will really help us in three weeks at the conference meet," Jefferson said.

The Lady Cheese placed 23rd out of 26 schools, just three points ahead of Albany.

Sophmore Molly Hlubek, a returning all-conference runner, put down a breakthrough performance in the freshman-sophomore race with a time of 16:51, good for 20th out of 142 runners. Jefferson loved the way she hit the accelerator in the final 800 meters.

"She finished in a very strong fashion," Jefferson said. "That has been our focus recently."

The Lady Cheesemaker underclassmen finished 11th as a team. Monroe's junior-varsity girls took 19th out of 24 squads.

The future looked incredibly bright Saturday morning for a pair of Albany Comets that scorched through the middle-school race. Eighth-grader Bailey Hlavachek won the 1,600-meter event by more than 7 seconds at 6:03.71. Maddie Kallgren, just a sixth-grader, took third with a blistering 6:15.83.

The Cheesemakers' varsity lineup still isn't solidified with two races left before the conference meet.

"Tess, Molly, Tessa, Lizzy and Abby Rogerson have been consistent throughout the season," Jefferson said. "Steph Wyss and Rachel Rogerson have been racing back into shape and look poised for a breakout. Abbey Schneider is also knocking on the door."

Jefferson has been forced to choose between a lot of hard-working runners - a good problem to have.

"They all have a proven history of being competitive and all deserve the opportunity," Jefferson said. "Competition will make this team even stronger."