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Top Cardinal runners just happy to run at RVC meet
Brodhead-Judas Daniel Drewes stay on the heels of the leaders as the pack ascends a hill early in the first mile.
WHITEWATER - Shannon Klein and Daniel Drewes seemed simply happy to be running at Thursday's Rock Valley Conference cross-county meet.

And the paths that led the junior runners to the front of their respective Brodhead-Juda packs couldn't have been much different.

In just her fourth race since having hip surgery in the offseason, Klein placed 15th in the 4-kilometer race at 17 minutes, 10 seconds.

"It's a miracle for me just to be running," Klein said.

That's because Klein was told she'd be out several months, not the six weeks it took her to get back into practice. She started rehabbing just two weeks after having surgery on her left hip.

"My doctor said it was the way I was born," Klein said. "My left bone grew and pulled forward. If I wasn't a runner, it never would've hurt or broke anything. Being a runner, it split out of the socket, it pinched my cartilage and it broke.

"I had to get it fixed. It was to the point that I was collapsing when I was walking. Now it's amazing, it's just a little tight. So I know my stride isn't so long."

Klein's Redbirds placed last with 238 points. Whitewater won the meet with 77, just six fewer than East Troy, whose pack leader, Meghan Valentine, won the meet, comfortably, at 16:21. Evansville's Lauren Janes took second with a time of 16:27 and Kelsey Harms of Whitewater finished third in 16:31.

Drewes placed 18th in the boys' 5-kilometer race in 18:50. He got off to a quick start before falling back toward the middle of the pack of 78 runners near the end of the first mile. Then he steadily jumped past opposing runners the rest of the way.

Drewes had no intentions of playing high school sports until a middle-school buddy urged him he'd make a fine runner. Drewes is glad he took the tip.

"To come in and be first varsity for Brodhead?" Drewes said. "I think it was a smart idea."

And he feels he's just first hitting his stride.

"This was one of my best racing days, I caught a lot of people," Drewes said. "I'm getting used to making my way up to the front. If a guy says, "good luck" or "keep going," that's a sign they might be giving up, and that really builds confidence. It's fun to get up there and lead other people."

Drewes led his Cardinals to an eighth-place finish with 192 points, just one more than Evansville's 191. Brodhead-Juda's Tate Harnack and J.B. Courdray tandemed to finish 36th (19:42) and 37th (19:43), respectively. Kyle Lockhart snuck into the top 50 in 49th (20:14).

McFar-land ran away with the team title with just 23 points to runner-up Clinton's 57. Beloit Turner placed third with 76.

Klein won the girls' title in her first two seasons. On Thursday, she battled a tough field and mother nature, particularly on a muddy stretch the runners crossed twice that was peppered with potholes and pools of standing brown water.

"Your hips were turning in and out," Klein said. "I don't like that."

Erin Kettle and Jenny Jackson, who rounded out the original top three, cheered their teammates from the sideline, both held up by crutches.

Amanda Kopp was the only other top-50 Cardinal in the 78-runner field, placing 47th in 18:23.

Klein, who cracked 16 minutes at 15:58.2 to place 34th at state as a freshman, is looking forward to returning to such form next season.

"It's devastating not being where I was, and seeing my time being like two or three minutes different," Klein said. "It's been hard to deal with, but my teammates keep me positive."

There might be no more positive-thinking Redbird than Drewes.

"I'm going to train hard in the winter and especially in the spring during track," Drewes said. "I'm hoping to be a state-worthy runner next year."