Sun Prairie girls and boys track and field coach Doug Maughan looked over at the huddled Middleton boys team, which was eagerly awaiting the final results from Friday night’s Big Eight Conference meet at Mansfield Stadium.
“Our girls and their boys are similar,” Maughan said. “It’s what works — depth is deadly. We are two teams that are deep from top to bottom.”
The Sun Prairie girls, who most recently won in 2015, earned their seventh conference title in the past nine years. Sun Prairie rode its depth in the distance events and finished first with 143.75 points. Madison Memorial was second with 112 and Verona third with 81.50.
“We knew we had a solid team; we were trying to be good in every event,” Maughan said. “I just told them to do their job, and that’s to compete and have fun.”
The Middleton boys won their fifth consecutive conference crown and second straight under coach Joe Line.
“It’s nice to keep the tradition going,” Line said. “We were getting a little nervous for a while, but we knew we had some big events left.”
Middleton came on strong late, scoring 14 points in the 3,200-meter run and getting a first-place from sixth-seeded Aaron Richardson in the long jump, and overcame Verona to finish first with 138 points. Verona was second with 119 and Sun Prairie third with 106.
Individual meet standouts included Verona senior Sie’anna “Sisi” Mitchell, who swept the girls 100, 200 and 400 meters; Janesville Craig junior Peyton Sippy, who won the girls 1,600 and 3,200; and Madison La Follette senior Finn Gessner, who earned titles in the boys 1,600 and 3,200.
The Sun Prairie girls started strong when the 3,200 relay of Hannah Ray, Claire Darmstadter, Katie Rose Blachowicz and Michaela Nelson established a new conference meet record with a time of 9 minutes, 39.57 seconds.
Sun Prairie sophomores Maddie Thompson and Nelson finished 1-2 in the 800. Thompson was the winner with a time of 2:20.38, while Nelson was runner-up in 2:20.96.
In the 1,600, Sippy earned first place in 5:01.67, ahead of three Sun Prairie runners — sophomore Maddie Thompson (5:04.75), senior Trista Pringle (5:09.05) and freshman Autumn Dushack (5:12.05). Sippy later won the 3,200 in 11:07.29, ahead of Sun Prairie’s Blachowicz, Pringle and Dushack.
Verona’s Mitchell won the 100 in :12.46 and earned the 400 title in :59.77.
“I was just trying to run fast,” Mitchell said after the 400. “I knew I had a chance to win all of them.”
She later claimed the 200 in :25.79.
Beloit Memorial senior Yolonda Johnson won the girls 300 hurdles in a meet-record time of :44.98, breaking the 2004 record of :45.09 by Madison Memorial’s Lindsey Biel.
Beloit Memorial senior Eva Laun-Smith won the 100 hurdles in :15.18 and the triple jump (37-11½). Middleton’s Madeline Pflasterer-Jennerjohn won the pole vault (11-6).
In the boys meet, University of Wisconsin commit Gessner won the 3,200 in 9:20.63, but Middleton piled up 14 points in the event and turned a one-point deficit against Verona into a late 13-point advantage. Middleton senior Gus Newcomb, a Colorado commit, earned second and teammate Jack Rader was fourth.
Earlier, Gessner won the 1,600 in 4:19.57, but Middleton earned second- and third-place points from Newcomb and Caleb Easton.
Richardson, a junior, then leaped a personal-best 22 feet, 4½ inches in winning the long jump. Verona senior Jack Herkert, a Stanford commit, was second with a leap of 22 feet.
Middleton junior Alec Hanson won the pole vault, clearing a personal-best 13 feet.
Line called the title “a great win,” but said the Cardinals were fortunate Verona twins Obi Ifediora and Chudi Ifediora were hampered by injuries. Chudi missed the meet entirely, due to a hamstring injury.
Obi, a senior returning from a calf injury, defended his crown in the 400. He finished first in 50.00 seconds, ahead of runner-up Samba Diallo (:50.82), a La Follette senior.
“It did bother me, but it was nothing I couldn’t handle,” Obi Ifediora said.
But when he later ran the 200, he had to pull up during the race and crossed the finish line in ninth place. Middleton senior Tre Turner and Madison Memorial senior DonDreon Conklin tied for first in :22.58.
Herkert’s victory in the boys high jump and Verona senior Hunter Bourne’s shot put title helped the Wildcats gain the early advantage.
Madison Memorial senior Hunter Peters won the boys 110 hurdles in 14.47 seconds, finishing ahead of Verona teammates Herkert (:14.63) and Jared Biddle (:14.88).
“That was my goal coming into the meet after I won it last year,” said Peters, who’s been battling a hamstring injury this season. “I just wanted to repeat and run a fast time.I have learned this season that you can’t take any race for granted, especially late in the season. I am trying to get ready for bigger things. I was happy with the time, particularly running against great competition.”