Fons leads Franklin girls cross country team back to the top of the Southeast Conference
Oak Creek a close third
She's no longer "Queen of the Mountain" as she was in the fall of 2010 and 2011 when she won WIAA state individual championships, but after a lost year and a long-sought opportunity to earn both Southeast Conference individual and team cross country championships once again at hand, Franklin senior Allie Fons is a woman at peace.
Fons won the individual title and led the Sabers to their third straight Southeast Conference team title in a harrowing three-team race with Kenosha Tremper and Oak Creek last Saturday at Grant Park.
"This is the first time in a long time where nothing hurts," she said of the long-running battle she had with shin problems that cost her last fall's cross country season, "...and that has made it all a lot more fun than past seasons. I'm enjoying races now. I'm not worrying about time or place.
"I just love everyone on the team and I'm so happy that we work well together."
Coach Regina Schindel agrees. And though Fons was healthy this fall, many of the other Sabers were not.
"Despite injuries to three of our top eight we were able to hold off an always competitive Kenosha Tremper," she said "We have some work to do and hopefully the next week will be enough time to help the girls heal and be ready for a battle at sectionals."
The Sabers will look to earn their third straight WIAA state team berth when they take part in the sectional at UW-Parkside. The girls race is at 11 a.m. The top two teams and first five individuals not on those teams will advance to the WIAA state meet Nov. 2 in Wisconsin Rapids. Oak Creek and Tremper will also be down there in what promises to be another close race.
Fons would like to see a good finish. Shin problems started bothering her at the end of her sophomore year and she said she didn't start feeling good again until shortly before the start of this, her senior year.
"This has been a very enjoyable fall," she said. "My main goal is to take everything in and enjoy the rest of the season."
With maybe a little less drama than there was at the conference meet. Schindel is a graduate of Oak Creek and has watched the resurgence of the Knights' girls squad this fall with enjoyment. So it was bittersweet when it came race-time on Saturday and the Knights were down their fourth runner due to injury.
It was a hard blow for Oak Creek to overcome, but the Knights tried. Franklin, behind Fons' winning time of 15 minutes, 11 seconds on the 4,000-meter Grant Park course, won with 43 points. Tremper was right behind with 49 and Oak Creek had 54.
"This wouldn't have been the result (if Oak Creek had been at full strength)," Schindel said. "(I have) a lot of respect for what a great season the Knight girls were having (and) looked forward to the competition. It would have been close by my calculations."
But it was the Sabers who were celebrating.
Fons got support from Melanie Hansen in seventh (15:55), Jensen Ritzow in 10th (16:11), Hailey Migliano in 11th (16:11), and Megan Kleyheeg in 14th (16:27). Also running were Fons' fellow seniors Monica Sweet in 15th (16:27) and Madeline Gierach in 16th (16:36).
All runners earned some form of all-conference recognition.
"We honestly had no idea how it was going to turn out," Fons said. "We were so nervous and then so happy when it turned out OK. It was definitely a surprise (winning the individual title). I have to admit, it felt pretty good."
Schindel said the same thing,
"We spent a lot of time talking race strategy and the girls knew to be 'passing blue' (also known as) trying to beat Oak Creek and Tremper (was important)," she said. "We still need to work on our finishing kicks."
Oak Creek, as noted, made a game effort of it, as Hollie Poehler was second to Fons in 15:16, while other scoring runners included Shannon Dugan in fourth (15:33), Emma Sims in fifth (15:38), Serena Hukarevic in 20th (16:45) and Lindsay Senger in 23rd (16:55).
Also running were Lauren Oleniczak in 30th (17:42) and the only senior Grace Goldensoph (17:47).
The junior varsity, led by the first-place finish of Lexi Haag, a good friend of Fons, took the first 12 spots in the race.
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