As usual, at one of the oldest and most cherished of Wisconsin high school cross-country meets, the pep band came out and serenaded everyone before the Cudahy Purgold Invitational on Saturday, Oct. 1. They even played the national anthem.
Then they were the smart ones who got out of the rain, as the weather turned foul.
But despite the elements, the 13th-ranked Whitefish Bay girls team, led by individual champion Camille Davre, persevered in the less-than-ideal conditions and won the title in the seven-team event
The meet was also a harbinger of the future for the Blue Dukes, as senior multi-time state champion Davre led a group of six other finishers that included five freshmen and one junior.
"It was such an interesting dynamic," said Blue Duke coach Mike Miller. "That was such a young group out there, and kids like Molly (Milia) and Anika (Horowtiz) were running their first varsity races. Alexa (Bartschat) also really stepped up, too."
In short, it was a good, low-key effort for the Blue Dukes, whose varsity group will rest until they defend their North Shore Conference title on Oct. 15 at Tendick Park in Saukville.
"It was a win and a very good job under tough conditions on a slow day," Miller said, "and this is a fun meet. The band is always a bonus."
The Blue Duke boys were second of 11 teams at the meet.
For the girls, they put four runners in the top 10 and cruised to a 29-point total as Wauwatosa East was second with 48.
Davre (19:04) and freshman Maggie Keiper (19:41) went one-two, respectively, on the 5,000-meter course to lead the way, while junior Josie Help turned in a fine effort in earning fifth (20:31). Other scoring runners included Bartschat in seventh (20:40) and Horowitz in 14th (21:34).
Other runners included freshmen Zoe Styler in 15th (21:34) and Milia in 20th (22:03).
Miller was very pleased with the effort of Helf, who showed great leadership in helping out all the freshmen.
"We had Josie go a little slower for the first mile and try to bring the others along," Miller said. "Her leadership really helped. It was like, 'Follow me, and we'll be OK.'"
Miller said the course was very slow because of the wet weather, and it got slower as the day went along.
He said the boys got poured on by the rain but still put in a solid effort with a 74-point runner-up effort. South Milwaukee won with 53, and Waukesha North was third (75).
David Potter was fifth on the 5,000-meter course to lead the way (16:56), while Noal Basil was 13th (17:19) and Julian McCurdy 16th (17:24). Other scoring runners included Thomas Gonzales in 17th (17:26) and Joe Pencak in 23rd (17:35). Also running were Rhys Koch in 25th (17:37) and Nathan Ebersole in 28th (17:39).
"It was a pretty solid race for us," Miller said. "Rhys (Koch) had his best race, and Pencak really stepped it up, too."
He said he would like to see the rest of the group try and move up and get closer to Potter.