Despite less than favorable overall results, individuals shine

By Mike Ramczyk

One week removed from the Racine County Invite, the Burlington High School cross country squads competed in the Angel Invite at the University of Wisconsin-Parkside Saturday.

Both the boys and girls squads finished in the top 25 of the large event, which featured more than 30 teams from both Wisconsin and Illinois.

For Burlington head coach Matt Nie, who is already gearing up for the team’s annual Chocolate City Invite Saturday, Oct. 5, it’s been a season of team building and camaraderie.

“This is a dedicated, positive group of runners that work hard and play hard,” Nie said. “They may grit their teeth, but they always end with a smile. Senior leadership continues to mentor in the next generation.”

“We have all abilities from the 5-minute miler to the 9-minute miler that never quits and runs with heart. They are developing a lifetime love of the sport that will embrace long after high school. Regardless of their natural talent, watching them lay it all out on the line as they grit through the finish is always a site to behold.”

On Saturday, the boys were led by Kodi Krueger, who took 66th overall after he finished the race at 18 minutes, 26 seconds.

Tanner Sylvester took 77th place in 18:39.

In 96th place was Ben Ewald with a time of 18:54.

The girls saw a bit more individual success than the boys.

Marlee Nichols, who has been the team’s top runner all fall, grabbed 60th with a run of 23:00.5.

Overall, several top runners have been pacing the club this season.

Nie is hoping it can carry over to conference, regionals, sectionals and maybe even state.

“The boys team has a lot of speed on their side with seniors Joel Fisher and Kodi Krueger and Ben Ewald leading the charge,” Nie said. “Junior Tanner Sylvester is showing leadership and strength adding to the group. With senior Brent Vieu, we have our five scoring boys running in the 18s and 19s.”

“On the girls side, Marlee Nichols continues to put down impressive numbers with a solid work ethic. Senior Megan Harris is on the rise, and the next generation of Karol Soto and Celia Inthamavong are an emerging one-two punch.”

After an invite at Naga-waukee Park in Hartland Saturday, the Demons will get a chance to host the annual Chocolate City Invite, now in its second year at the school forest, a couple miles southeast of Burlington High School in Kenosha County.

The lush vegetation and picturesque trails play like a traditional cross country course, a significant upgrade of the event’s previous location at Burlington High School, which featured a lack of trees, greenery and natural prairie and wilderness.

“It has been a year of course and facilities improvement to make this a great experience for all,” Nie said. “It’s always fun to defend the home turf at a beautiful location. We’re also looking forward to the top five boys scoring as a unified group in the meets to come.”

“We’re fighting off the usual aches and pains with a few runners (shin splints, etc.) and looking to have a healthy lineup in the weeks to come.”