They are the defending North Shore Conference girls and boys cross-country champions, and both the Whitefish Bay girls and Homestead boys squads had things to build on and things to work on following their strong finishes in the Arrowhead Invitational on Sept. 8.
Behind the individual championship of now three-time Arrowhead Invite titlist Camille Davre, the Bay girls were fourth of 19 teams, and behind the individual runner-up finish of sophomore star Drew Bosley, the Highlander boys were a strong second to a powerful Middleton squad.
For Davre, the seven-time WIAA state track champion, it seems like it's been a blink of an eye since she raced onto the scene in a big way with a spectacular victory in the Arrowhead meet in September 2013.
She was second in the WIAA state cross-country meet last fall to the now-graduated Aubrey Roberts of Eau Claire Memorial. She still has college decisions to make (not dropping any hints yet), and she's not putting any artificial pressure on herself concerning a state cross-country crown.
"I'm just focusing on being the best I can be," she said. "The experience has made me better. Being a senior like this, I remember being a little freshman and trying to learn things from the seniors. Right now, I just want to help the younger people on the team be the best they can be."
Such as freshman Maggie Keiper, who finished a strong seventh in the 140-runner field on the warm and muggy afternoon in Merton. She was clocked in 19:38 for her spot on the 5,000-meter field.
In the interim, Davre did what she does best, cruising to the front early and then working past the elements to easily outdistance the rest of the field by 22 seconds in winning in 18:37.
"It was a little hot," Davre said, "but I still thought it was a good race. It really tested me. I couldn't really run it the way I wanted to because I was really feeling it (the temperature) at the end of the race because we don't get these kind of conditions everyday."
"One thing that we've seen through Cami over the years is that she can struggle with the weather sometimes," said coach Mike Miller. "She's never liked high-humidity days, but she muscled through today."
Several runners did not finish or struggled at the end due to the temperatures.
Her efforts led the Blue Dukes to a 177-point effort as DSHA put on an impressive effort in winning with 77.
Other scoring runners for Bay included Josie Helf in 43rd (21:01), Julia Hall in 60th (21:25) and Alexa Bartschat in 66th (21:31). Also running were Zoe Styler in 103rd (22:46) and Patricia Mathu in 111th (23:14). The Blue Dukes did have one runner not finish.
"It was an interesting race," Miller said. "It could have gone better, but it's something to build on."
Davre, meanwhile, will move forward herself. She had a low-key summer, not running in any major national races and dropping her weekly mileage to a more manageable 35-45 miles.
"I just needed to take some time off," she said, "and my mileage wasn't very high. I've already seen a huge difference (in my performance). I worked on getting myself more comfortable on longer (training) runs, and it's really helped out."
For Bosley and the Highlander boys, last year was a bit of a coming out party, and after a spectacular victory in their own Homestead Invite on Sept. 2, coach Andy Bosley (Drew's father) wanted to test the team at Arrowhead, and he was pleased by what he saw. Drew turned in a strong race on the flat and fast 5,000-meter course in taking second in 15:42 as Gus Newcomb of team champion Middleton won in a quick 15:31.
Drew's efforts led the Highlanders to a 92-point effort as Middleton won the 18-team event with 59 points.
"We would have been happy with fourth, so to finish second is great," said Drew, as he poured buckets of water over his head to cool off. "We looked at ourselves and knew we could compete if all ran a good time. I felt fairly comfortable with my race. Gus (NJewcomb) is a great runner and obviously better than me today.
"But this is an impressive start for us. Phenomenal. We've worked so hard and we're so close to doing something really special."
Drew got good support from Thomas Miller in seventh (16:04), Messi Elgin in 20th (16:45), Noah Cummisford in 25th (16:52) and Kai Newman in 38th (17:27). Also running were Harry Ward in 92nd (18:25) and Jack Pfeifer in 102nd (18:44).
Andy Bosley was very pleased with the effort of fifth runner Newman.
"We were thinking that if he got into the 60s (in terms of place) that would be an 'A-plus' day for him, and he got into the 30s," he said. "This a very deep individual field with several good teams, and this was a good test for us. At the start of the summer, our goals were the same as last year — win conference and get into the state's top 10 — but now I think our goals will be a little higher."