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MIDDLETON — Lauren Pansegrau’s primary focus is competing in triathlons during the summer.

She ran cross country last fall and has run 1,600-meter races previously on the track.

But the Middleton freshman said she’d never run the 3,200 meters at a high school track and field meet, so she wasn’t certain what to expect at the Cardinal Relays on Friday night at Breitenbach Stadium.

“I felt good,” she said after she blew away the field. “It was kind of windy, but it was a lot of fun.”

Right from the start, Pansegrau pulled away to a comfortable lead.

“I don’t really think about anything,” she said. “I just run.”

Pansegrau breezed to victory in 10 minutes, 58.65 seconds and her overall enjoyment could be a signal to area competitors that Pansegrau will be a definite factor in the event this season.

“I liked the race,” said Pansegrau, who first ran track as an eighth-grader and finished 31st at the WIAA Division 1 state girls cross country meet last fall. “I’ve done the mile more times, but this was really fun.”

Madison Memorial freshman Annika Cutforth was second in 11:40.91 and Middleton sophomore Sarah Foley was third (12:16.86).

In this relay meet, combined times, distances and heights were used to determine team points in events and different events than usual were held, including the sprint medley, the distance medley relay, grade-level races and the weight-person relay.

Middleton’s three runners, led by Pansegrau, in the girls 3,200 had the fastest cumulative time, giving the Cardinals first place in the event.

The Cardinals continued to show off their distance running prowess when Middleton juniors Zachary Leffel (9:54.30) and Peter Hoferle (10:05.80) finished 1-2 in the boys 3,200, sending the Cardinals to first place in that event when their three runners’ times were combined.

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“It gives us a chance to try out some things we haven’t done before,” Leffel said. “I’m not really a two-mile guy. I’m a mile, 800 guy. But I like getting two-mile times out there. And it’s a good chance to put three guys in an event and just go for it.”

Middleton boys distance coach Brian Finnel said these early meets will help Leffel decide what events he will race, adding: “He’s running really well.”

Middleton senior distance runner Caleb Easton, a Northern Arizona commit who recently returned from a foot injury, also competed Friday night — including in Middleton’s victorious 3,200 relay.

“For the last three or four years, we’ve really been building a great team in cross country season,” Leffel said. “I think that’s the most important part for us. All these guys come out for cross country and work really hard; they work their butts off. Then they come out and run in the winter. And then they come out here (for track) and it really pays off.”

The Madison Memorial team of senior Mikaela Miller and juniors Caleigh Wong, Micah Wade and Grace Korger-Mitchell earned first in the girls 400 varsity relay in 50.26 seconds.

Korger-Mitchell, who ran the anchor leg, said the Spartans weren’t happy being seeded so that they started in Lane 2.

“Micah (on the third leg) came around the corner and right when she handed off to me, I knew I had to run and I saw nothing but first (place),” Korger-Mitchell said. “That’s what we came here to do. We didn’t like being in Lane 2. We came here to prove we belong in Lane 4 or 5.”

Waunakee was the winner in the girls triple jump, sweeping the top three places. Sophomore Chloe Larsen finished first with a leap of 33 feet, 10½ inches. Waunakee junior Jocelyn Meinholz was second (33-3) and sophomore Lauren Statz third (32-7½).

Verona senior Max Herkert and J.T. Hawkins each cleared 6-4 and tied for first in the high jump, leading the Wildcats to first place. Verona, anchored by sophomore Jackson Acker, was the boys 400 relay winner in :43.42.

Madison Memorial opened the running portion of the meet with victories in the girls and boys 1,600 grade-level relays.

The boys meet winner was Verona with 117 points, followed by Middleton (109).

The girls meet winner was Madison Memorial with 102 points, with Waunakee finishing second with 92.

Bucky!

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Jon Masson covers high school sports for the Wisconsin State Journal. He has covered a variety of sports — including the Green Bay Packers and Wisconsin men's and women's basketball and volleyball — since he first came to the State Journal in 1999.