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Girls run away with Menomonie Relays

Sophomore Aislinn Pomfret, right, sophomore Natalie Powell, left, and junior captain Laura Anderson run close together at the Menomonie Relays Saturday in Menomonie. The Wildcats girls took first at the unique, six-team meet with a total time of 1 hour, 3 minutes, 14 seconds. Submitted photo

The Wildcat girls' cross country team sent a message to the rest of the Big Rivers Conference by dominating the field at the Menomonie Relays Saturday in Menomonie.

The unique event features three varsity races with the winner determined by combining the top five times of eight runners. The top two runners compete in one race, numbers three though five in another and numbers six through eight another.

The defending BRC champion Wildcat girls ran away from the field, winning with a combined time of 1 hour, 13 minutes, 14 seconds, two-and-a-half minutes ahead of second place Eau Claire Memorial. The top five Cats were separated by just 63 seconds.

In the 1-2 race, the Cats were led by freshman Paige Skorseth and junior Lucy Ramquist, who ran together for most of the 5K course before Skorseth finished in 20:21 to take second and Ramquist in 20:21 to finish fourth.

The 3-5 race saw the Cats use more pack running with sophomore Natalie Powell, junior Laura Anderson and sophomore Aislinn Pomfret running side-by-side for the first two miles. Powell won the race with a time of 20:41 and finished fifth overall while Anderson, competing for the first time this season, placed 10th overall in 20:49. Pomfret ran to a 13th place time of 21:13.

"I was very happy with the way these three women worked together," Wildcat coach Pat Lorentz said. "They went out smart and attacked at the end of the race the best they could."

In the 6-8 race, Monica Morgan led from wire-to-wire and won with a time of 21:16 to place 16th overall.

"t takes a lot of determination and focus to run a race out front the whole way like Monica did," Lorentz said.

Sophomore Hanna Gribble placed 26th in 22:38 despite battling stomach problems whole freshman Ellie Nelson, who was also hampered by a sore hip, finished 34th overall in 23:51.

The Wildcat boys took third in their portion of the meet, finishing with a total time of 1:34:06. Hudson was first in 1:28:18 while Eau Claire Memorial took second in 1:30:59.

The boys were led by sophomore Shae Taylor and senior captain David Ritter, who finished 10th and 12th, respectively, while running in the 3-5 race. Taylor finished in 18:13 while Ritter crossed the line in 18:20.

It was really fun watching Shae and David going back and forth with Hudson's number four runner," Lorentz said. "In the end the Hudson runner edged Shae and David slightly, but they worked well together and really put some heat on the kid."

Junior Cole Comer also ran in the 3-5 race and finished 35th overall with a time of 20:13.

Competing in the 1-2 race, sophomore Salvador Bastien finished 18th overall in 18:55 and senior captain Casey Schellhorn placed 19th in 19:05. In the 6-8 race, sophomore Steffen Nielsen finished in 19:33 to take 22nd place and junior Garrett Williams finished in 20:39 to place 38th.

The Wildcat boys were without two of their top runners -- junior Ethan Genco and senior Patrick Keicher.

River Falls will travel to the Smiley Invitational in Wausau Saturday. The meet is the oldest invitation in Wisconsin and will feature some of the state's best runners.

This will really be a test for both teams," Lorentz said. "I think there will be a lot of teams gunning for our women this year. On the men's side, if we run well I think we could surprise some teams."