More than 3,000 cross country athletes will gather at Blackhawk Golf Course in Janesville on Saturday to take part in the 80th Midwest Invitational, the oldest multi-state high school cross country event in the nation.
The event will feature teams from 43 high schools in three states, including perennial participant MacArthur High School from Houston.
The girls field includes seven teams ranked in the Division 1 top 20 in the coaches’ rankings, along with the No. 2 team in Division 2 and the No. 4 team in Division 3.
The boys field will include nine top-20 Division 1 teams, including six in the top 10; three top-10 Division 2 teams and the No. 1 Division 3 team.
Action will begin at 8:15 a.m. with a community 5,000-meter race. Freshman-sophomore races will follow (girls at 9:05 a.m.; boys at 9:45 a.m.), then the varsity girls at 10:20 a.m. and varsity boys at 10:55 a.m.
Races for junior varsity girls (11:30 a.m.) and boys (12:10 p.m.) will follow, and a 1-mile run for boys and girls in grades 4 through 8 will close the action at 12:45 p.m.
While a large number of top-ranked Wisconsin teams will take part, the state’s two top-ranked Division 1 programs aren’t favored to win. That’s because the varsity runners from both the Madison West boys and Sun Prairie girls teams will instead be running in the Roy Griak Invitational at the University of Minnesota. So, the West and Sun Prairie teams running in Janesville will be varsity reserves.
That opens up the field to other challengers:
• On the boys side, favorites will be second-ranked Middleton, third-ranked Hartland Arrowhead, fourth-ranked Kimberly, sixth-ranked Green Bay Preble, seventh-ranked Neenah and ninth-ranked Madison La Follette. Division 2 powers in the field include No. 3 Dodgeville/Mineral Point, No. 6 Monroe and No. 8 La Crosse Logan. Top-ranked Darlington will represent Division 3.
• On the girls side, the favorites will be No. 3 Janesville Craig, No. 11 Middleton, 14 Stoughton, No. 15 Madison West and Kimberly. The second-ranked team in Division 2, Wisconsin Dells, and Division 3 seventh-ranked Darlington also will compete.
Top individual contenders in the boys race include Caleb Easton of Middleton, Joseph Kehoe of Sun Prairie, Charlie Ellenbecker of Monona Grove, Drew Bosley of Mequon Homestead, Matthew Meinke of Neenah, David Vannucchi of Onalaska Luther amd Henry Chapman and Elijah Devries of Hartland Arrowhead.
In the girls race, the list of individual favorites includes Laura Beghin of Wisconsin Dells, Peyton Sippy of Janesville Craig, Vivian Hacker of Madison West, Shea Ruhly of Middleton and Olivia Eisch of Kimberly.