Armed by an effort with five of the top-12 finishers, the Chi-Hi girls cross country team ran to victory on Thursday at the team’s home invitational hosted at Lake Wissota Golf Course.
The Cardinals finished with 34 team points, eight in front of La Crosse Logan for the top spot.
Senior Katie Faris ran to victory in the race, taking the top spot with a time of 19 minutes, 55.1 seconds and was more than 20 seconds ahead of La Crosse Logan’s Greta Trapp for the top spot (20:18.4).
Freshman Ella Behling came home in third place with a time of 20:41.2 and was the only freshman among the top-12 finishers for the race.
Hannah Sillman came home in seventh (21:35.6) for the Cardinals, a strong effort after returning from an injury. Sillman had run in just one event this season prior to Thursday’s home meet.
The duo of Andrea Cihasky (22:42.1) and Tjorven Landwehr (22:47.3) finished in 11th and 12, respectively, to round out the scoring runners for the Cardinals.
“As long as they keep moving forward like we’re hoping, hopefully we can finish the season strong,” Chi-Hi coach Karen Swanson said of her girls team.
Eau Claire North (67 points) was third and Colfax (89) took fourth as a team.
Faris is a two-time state qualifier that has finished in the front few runners in most of her races this year and with some strong tests coming up near the end of the regular season, Swanson is excited to see how Faris fares into those larger events.
“She’s doing really well,” Swanson said of Faris.
Bryce Daniels finished in third place to lead the Cardinal boys team. The senior Daniels came home with a time of 17:04.7 as Eau Claire North’s David Ecker (16:50.7) won the race and La Crosse Logan’s Zach Slevin (17:02.1) finished second. Daniels has taken a big step forward this fall and become one of the team’s top runners. He entered the season with his eyes set on breaking the 17-minute mark and is the verge of doing so after Thursday.
“Bryce had a huge race,” Swanson said of Daniels after he dropped more than 40 seconds in time from his last competition, a seventh-place finish at the Hudson Raider invite on Sept. 19.
Benjamin LeMay finished 14th, Alan Fox was close behind in 16th, Hunter Sillman finished 20th and Noah Graffunder came home in 36th place to round out the scoring runners for the Cardinals as the Chi-Hi boys were fourth as a team with 83 points. La Crosse Logan won the team title (26 points) with five of the top eight scoring runners as Eau Claire North (57) was second and Eau Claire Memorial (79) was third.
A younger Cardinal boys team has shown improvement throughout the year, as well as plenty of competition within for varsity spots.
“They’ve been fun to watch because they all want to get those spots,” Swanson said.
Chi-Hi is back in action on Tuesday at an invite in Tomah before running at the Eau Claire Memorial invite on Saturday, Oct. 7 at South Middle School in Eau Claire.
The Cardinals will close the regular season a week later with the Big Rivers Conference meet in River Falls on Oct. 14 before running at Division 1 sectionals in Menomonie on Oct. 21.