OH SO CLOSE
It had to be a bittersweet moment for Sparta’s Taylor Winterton.
The freshman phenom raced to a top-five finish in Saturday’s Wisconsin Interscholastic Athletic Association Division 2 cross country sectional to earn a state berth, but her team fell just two points shy of qualifying.
Her teammates were naturally excited for Winterton’s accomplishment, but they remained heartbroken after coming so close.
“We are very excited to have a state qualifier in Taylor Winterton,” said Sparta head cross country coach Jean Roddick.
“The girls ran as well as we could have asked them to. Most of them improved their time on the course from the last time we ran there,” she continued. “Unfortunately, there were a couple of teams that ran better than we did, because we fell a couple of points short of qualifying for the state meet.”
The feeling wasn’t a new one for Roddick’s team.
Last season, the Sparta boys cross country team fell one-point shy of state berth after first being told it had qualified for state.
As she has done all season long, Winterton led the Lady Spartan harriers with a fourth-place finish in the 94-runner field at the Black River Falls sectional.
Winterton finished the 5,000-meter course at Skyline Golf Course in 20:02.67.
Freshman Angie Talsky was right behind Winterton in 15th place, turning in a time of 21:12.17 for Sparta.
Senior Devyn Kenworthy and junior Aly Laufenberg added top-25 finishes for the Lady Spartan harriers.
Kenworthy finished the race in 21:44.75 to capture 22nd place, while Laufenberg earned 24th when she finished the course in 21:48.26.
Sophomore Kari O’Rourke rounded out Sparta’s top five scorers with a 27th-place finish in 21:57.66.
Freshman Halley Parkinson finished the race in 44th place with a time of 23:34.64, while sophomore Sarah Anderson turned in time of 26:39.30 to earn 80th place for the Lady Spartans.
West Salem, which had four runners finish in the top 15, won the girls regional title with a team score of 52.
Mauston finished in second place with a team score of 90, while Sparta came in just two points back in third with a 92 team tallies.
The top two teams in the regional advance to state, leaving Sparta just two points shy of a berth.
Fourth place went to Ellsworth with a team score of 137, followed by Viroqua in fifth at 143, Wisconsin Dells in sixth at 149, host Black River Falls in seventh at 154, Nekoosa-Port Edwards in eighth at 197, Wautoma-Wild Rose in ninth at 207, Colby-Abbottsford in 10th with 294, Altoona in 11th at 303, Westfield Area in 12th with 309, Gale-Ettrick-Trempealeau in 13th at 328 and Loyal with 368 points in 14th place.
Winterton will compete in the WIAA Division 2 State Cross Country Championships at 12:40 p.m. Saturday at The Ridges Golf Course in Wisconsin Rapids.