All-Time Big Eight


Below are top 20s for each of the distance events including cross country using the current conference layout. I am content with the fact that everyone’s names who ought to show up do somewhere in these lists.


1:52.18    Gabe Jennings    12     Madison East          06/07/1997     D1 State Meet - La Crosse      
1:52.92    Tommy Meister    11     Janesville Craig      06/04/2011     D1 State Meet - La Crosse
1:53.02    Nate Farrell     12     Janesville Craig      06/03/2017     D1 State Meet - La Crosse
1:53.25    Charleton Hamer  11     Madison Memorial      06/03/1983     Class A State Meet - Madison
1:53.63    Perrin Hagge     11     Middleton             05/30/2016     D1 Holmen Sectional  
1:53.75    Steven Harris    12     Middleton             06/02/2013     D1 State Meet - La Crosse
1:54.3hy   Frank Hill       12     Middleton             06/03/1978     Class A State Meet - Madison
1:54.4hy   Michael Lee      12     Madison Memorial      05/18/1974     Big 8 Outdoor - Janesville Craig
1:54.47    Brad Money       11     Janesville Parker     06/03/2011     D1 State Meet - La Crosse
1:54.70i   Elliot Enright   12     Madison La Follette   04/13/2002     TFA Indoor Championships - Madison
 -- 10 --
1:54.79    Bill Cunningham  12     Janesville Craig      05/15/1982     Monona Grove Invitational
1:54.81    Tim Kise         12     Verona Area           06/04/2011     D1 State Meet - La Crosse
1:54.90    Rick Meister     12     Madison East          06/04/1982     Class A State Meet - Madison
1:55.10    Tom Basting      12     Janesville Craig      05/12/1981     Janesville Craig at Madison Memorial
1:55.3hy   Gary McVicar     12     Janesville Craig      05/xx/1973
1:55.50    Dan Nienhauser   12     Madison West          05/29/1980     Class A Sectional - Middleton
1:55.80    Bran Foster      12     Madison West          05/12/1990     Monona Grove Invitational
1:55.87    Alex Cotter      11     Madison La Follette   05/29/2015     D1 Sectional - Janesville Parker
1:56.10y   Bob Gordon       12     Madison West          04/20/1965     Madison West at Janesville Craig 
1:56.10    Josh Lund        11     Janesville Craig      05/25/2006     D1 Sectional - Janesville Parker


4:01.40y   Gabe Jennings    12     Madison East          05/26/1997     Prefontaine Classic - Eugene, OR
4:07.92    Olin Hacker      12     Madison West          06/13/2015     adidas Dream Mile - New York City, NY
4:08.13y   Tommy Meister    12     Janesville Craig      06/07/2012     The WISCO Mile
4:08.4hy   Dan Cautley      11     Madison Memorial      05/16/1969     Monona Grove Invitational
4:08.87    Perrin Hagge     11     Middleton             06/10/2015     The WISCO Mile
4:11.41    Chandler Diffee  11     Madison La Follette   06/01/2012     D1 State Meet - La Crosse
4:12.11    Caleb Easton     11     Middleton             06/01/2018     D1 State Meet - La Crosse
4:12.14    Finn Gessner     12     Madison La Follette   04/22/2017     Distance Night - Palatine, IL
4:13.08    Gus Newcomb      11     Middleton             06/03/2016     D1 State Meet - La Crosse
4:13.3hy   Bob Gordon       12     Madison West          08/14/1965     US Jaycees - Houston, TX
 -- 10 --
4:13.57    Tom Basting      12     Janesville Craig      05/15/1981     Monona Grove Invitational
4:14.19    Josh Lund        12     Janesville Craig      06/02/2007     D1 State Meet - La Crosse 
4:14.28    Phil Downs       12     Madison Memorial      06/05/1992     D1 State Meet - La Crosse 
4:14.90    Alex Brill       12     Madison La Follette   06/06/2009     D1 State Meet - La Crosse
4:14.95    John Divali      12     Madison Memorial      05/15/1981     Monona Grove Invitational
4:15.36y   Trevor Legg      12     Madison La Follette   06/08/2016     The WISCO Mile
4:15.56y   Jonah Barry      12     Madison West          06/06/2012     The WISCO Mile
4:16.10y   Ron Crawford     12     Madison Memorial      05/10/1968     Monona Grove Invitational     
4:16.17y   Nate Farrell     11     Janesville Craig      06/08/2016     The WISCO Mile
4:16.43    Gabe Heck        12     Madison East          05/19/2010     Big 8 Outdoor - Madison Memorial     


8:47.57    Finn Gessner     12     Madison La Follette   04/08/2017     Arcadia Invitational - Arcadia, CA
8:57.67    Caleb Easton     12     Middleton             04/06/2019     Arcadia Invitational - Arcadia, CA
8:58.99    Olin Hacker      12     Madison West          05/08/2015     Spartan Invitational - Madison Memorial
9:01.09    Gabe Heck        12     Madison East          06/07/2010     Midwest Distance Gala - Lisle, IL
9:02.43    Alex Brill       12     Madison La Follette   06/05/2009     D1 State Meet - La Crosse
9:03.02    Phil Downs       12     Madison Memorial      06/06/1992     D1 State Meet - La Crosse
9:04.73    Tommy Meister    12     Janesville Craig      06/08/2012     Midwest Distance Festival - Lisle, IL
9:05.04    Brett Kelly      12     Madison West          06/05/2009     D1 State Meet - La Crosse
9:05.66    Perrin Hagge     12     Middleton             06/04/2016     D1 State Meet - La Crosse
9:06.94    Jack Rader       12     Middleton             06/02/2018     D1 State Meet - La Crosse
 -- 10 --
9:07.30    Ryan Nameth      12     Verona Area           06/06/2015     D1 State Meet - La Crosse
9:12.54    Gus Newcomb      11     Middleton             06/04/2016     D1 State Meet - La Crosse
9:14.67    Josh Lund        12     Janesville Craig      06/01/2007     D1 State Meet - La Crosse 
9:15.62    Gabe Jennings    10     Madison East          05/31/1995     D1 State Meet - La Crosse
9:16.50y   Joe McGhee       12     Madison Memorial      06/05/1970     Class A State Meet - Madison
9:16.76    John Prusynski   12     Madison La Follette   05/22/2008     D1 Sectional - Holmen
9:17.08    Rob Aubey        12     Madison Memorial      06/05/1982     Class A State Meet - Madison
9:17.19    Chandler Diffee  11     Madison La Follette   05/04/2012     Myrhum Invitational
9:18.55    Ricky Reusser    12     Middleton             06/06/2003     D1 State Meet - La Crosse
9:18.59    Spencer Hrycay   12     Janesville Craig      06/01/2013     D1 State Meet - La Crosse


14:39  Finn Gessner       2016    Yankton Trails Park             NXN Heartland Regional - Sioux Falls, SD
14:55  Olin Hacker        2014    Leeson Park                     Big 8 Conference Meet
14:56  Phil Downs         1991    Blackhawk GC                    Midwest Inv-old course
15:13  Chandler Diffee    2011    Blackhawk GC                    Midwest Inv-new course
15:15  Gabe Jennings      1996    Nagawaukee Park                 Laser Relays
15:16  Ryan Nameth        2014    Yankton Trails Park             NXN Heartland Regional - Sioux Falls, SD
15:17  Nate Farrell       2016    Burlington HS                   Chocolate City Invitational
15:18  Rob Aubey          1980    Legge Park                      Kinney Midwest - Hinsdale, IL
15:18  Gus Newcomb        2016    Randy Marks CC Course           Verona Invitational
15:21  Tommy Meister      2012    Blackhawk GC                    Midwest Inv-new course
 -- 10 --
15:24c Caleb Easton       2018    SilverLakes Sport Complex       Woodbridge CC Classic - Woodbridge, CA
15:28  Josh Lund          2005    Burlington HS                   Chocolate City Invitational
15:30  Brett Kelly        2008    UW-Parkside                     Eagle Invitational
15:36  Bryan Bloomquist   2018    Lake Breeze                     Nightfall Classic
15:37  Sam Hacker         2010    UW-Parkside                     Footlocker Midwest 
15:37  Trevor Legg        2015    Blackhawk GC                    Big 8 Conference
15:38  Roman Ystenes      2017    Yankton Trails Park             NXN Heartland Regional - Sioux Falls, SD
15:40  Alex Brill         2008    Blackhawk GC                    Midwest Inv-new course 
15:40  John Prusynski     2007    Blackhawk GC                    Big 8 Conference
15:41  Spencer Hrycay     2012    Blackhawk GC                    Midwest Inv-new course       


Let’s get a poll going for who is the greatest Big Eight runner of all-time:

  • meister TOMMY MEISTER
  • hagge PERRIN HAGGE
  • jennings GABE JENNINGS
  • gessner FINN GESSNER
  • phil-downs PHIL DOWNS
  • hacker OLIN HACKER

0 voters

Just in time for the beginning of the Big Eight dual season!


Greatest Big 8 “Athlete” or “Runner”?


Welcome back @riplips I miss your rankings. What great runners and great personalities. Hard to pick one from this list. I guess I will go Phil downs given nostalgia and he was dominant for 4 years where the rest were good for 2-3 years but of course hard to criticize any choice and clearly Gabe made the Olympics so he wins the post Wisconsin award…for now


I meant athlete in the runner context but changed it anyway! Glad to have you back.

Anyone notice Tommy Meister and Perrin Hagge are almost the same runner on the track?

TM: 1:52.92-4:08.13-9:04.73
PH: 1:53.63-4:08.87-9:05.66


Another interesting question is what would it take for Easton or someone else to become greatest Big Eight runner of all-time?

Part of me thinks someone from the Big Eight needs to break 4 minutes or run better than Finn and win Footlocker. Someone running 1:49 would be on the same wavelength as Gabe and would need a top ten in national cross country. Overall Big Eight has six national qualifiers for xc.

  1. what a list of universities as well. Duke, Princeton, Stanford, Wisconsin. Good distance running gets you into some top schools even when you don’t run faster than in highschool such as Meister at duke (slight improvement) and Perrin at princeton

  2. I think it’s too late for Caleb but he can ruin bosley chance of winning the north shore titile just like maybe Andy’s victory is ruining downs chance of perhaps winning this pole. Perhaps a state record sub 8:50 in the 3200 combined with a 4:06 mile win is good enough to bolster Caleb into the lead especially since he led his team to cross country nationals which is a unique data point compared to the rest of the guys above but not enough individual titles to compete with these guys unless he just goes nuts at state this year with records and wins. 2 wins and 2 records yes that would do the trick.


I have had the opportunity to speak with Tom Meister privately at many points in his career.

Tom was an all-arounder and very mature both physically and mentally for his age. I think what excited him most was the feedback loop he had with the kids whom he grew up around. He mentioned many times in interviews that what motivated him to train hard was how fun everyone else made the environment. Although it checked all the boxes for great interview responses I think he actually meant it. Tom had roles in the Penn Relays for Duke splitting low 1:50s but I am not sure his tenacity carried over from Janesville to Duke. This is what makes me believe he had a special attachment representing his hometown especially in cross country. As I mentioned Tom was going to be great at a lot of things and pretty much anything he applied himself to. He ended up at Stanford for grad school which he must be done with by now.


Based on that, Gabe Jennings, Olin a close 2nd, Phil, Tommy, Perrin, then Finn…honestly, Finn shouldn’t really even be in the convo he was a 3200/5k guy, couldn’t range like the rest of them.

Based on pure all around athleticism, Perrin…you just always got the sense that he could have played MANY sports and would have been great at those as well.

Just my opinion.


I think another way to answer this is who would win each race at their best. I will go with Olin at the 5k (barely over Finn even though Finn showed more guts at nationals but Olin would catch him at the tape like he did to drew hunter and Austin tamango…probably). I will go with Finn at 3200 given his pr, I will go with Gabe Jennings in the mile but in the 800 I would go with Charleton Hammer and in the 400 I would go with Hammer as well over anyone in this conference history including the kid who upset Ogden a few years back (wellstein I think?) so Hammer is probably worthy of being in the ballot as well as he could run 1:53 after 5 other quality races. 400 open prelims, 800 prelims, 4x400 prelims, 400 finals and then 800 finals. Fresh he was a 1:51 800 runner for sure. Of course I’m biased as I saw him run live and the only time I saw Gabe run live was the race of his life in Sacramento but I missed his races in highschool. I think charlton could go toe to toe with anyone in state history in the 800 given his speed and strength.


I have mentally tabbed Nate Farrell as very comparable to Brian Dorow as a senior. Dorow left off with 1:53 to get the job done and 4:17 to get the job done. Also in some ways like Paul Hernandez but more consistent over a span of years. Farrell grew with the state in xc at 8th as a sophomore and junior and senior year just ran out of gas at the end after big performances at conference and sectionals. Then he got the job done as a senior in the 800, no post season. As a junior he had a sudden drop in time, probably almost skipped the 4:20s with a 4:16. Not that it was out of nowhere but just surprise there it was. I think Nate was ready for 4:12-4:13 as a junior. Things were just clicking but needed more exposure. Senior year he took the 800 because his camp probably saw the angle to a title and trained for it but he could have easily gambled on the 3200 and been at least a 9:15. He was a versatile athlete 1:53.02 Dorow style and 15:17 in XC with many 15:40s to support it.


Kind words Zen… Nate’s “Demons” are that he likes too many things. Hunting, Fishing, Wrestling, Baseball, Golf, amongst other things all played interference in school and continue today. His father got him involved in too many things :slight_smile: His running days are probably over.

In all honesty, there is zero doubt in my mind, If he had run the 3200 late in his senior season, it would have been sub 9:15. His 1600 would have definitely been down between 4:10 and 4:12, maybe lower. The original plan was for him to triple (4x800, 800, 1600) but an unfortunate spill by a teammate in the 4x800 right before the handoff pushed the team from 1st to 5th. This meant he had to bust a mid 1:50 split at sectionals in the final leg to get the team thru, then come back and run a hard open 800 given the depth of their sectional (1:56.9 by Ansel left him in 4th and staying home for state, yikes). The 1600 was dropped at that point. Despite many conversations over the last 2 weeks of the season, he would not change his mind about participating with his teammates in the 4x800. They had been together for 4 years and were salty about not getting to state as a team in XC, so I couldn’t blame him. Now you have the complete backstory.

I wish I had an accurate split for his leg of 4x800 at state from the slow heat, I have a feeling it was also very fast!

He would have won either the title in the 1600 or the 800 but given the temps in LaCrosse that day, it was probably not in anyone’s cards to win both. He put in the work and he was just in that good of shape in June of 2017.


Zen you are missing a boy from Janesville Parker in the all time 800M list. He ran in 2011 at state I believe and placed about 7th with a 1:54ish time. Check him out. Jennings with his Olympic credentials has to be the greatest so far


Great catch! Brad Money ran 1:54.47 as a junior and 1:54.71 as a senior in that ultimate slow heat where Meister almost won the state title again with a solo 1:53. This was the year the Kenosha-Janesville sectional had rain in it slowing those guys down to 2:00 and it made the traditional slow heat vs fast heat a two heat final. More firepower in the second heat but the right mix of fast vets in the first to make a claim for the title.

I swear there is another Craig kid we are missing too. Though you would know better than I would Bill Cunningham wasn’t quite a one hit wonder in 1982 but grew into that primary 800 role as a senior. This was the harder one to retrieve. But 2005 to now I seem to want to remember another Craig kid who ran 1:54. Sometimes this type of intuition is wrong but a majority of the time it is spot on. Perhaps it was Brad Money of Parker triggering that thought. Meister’s dad would come after Tim Kise at 1:54.90.


@zen Craig has had a pretty decent run in the 4x800 for quite some time, but I believe it indeed was Brad Money that you were confusing for a Craig Runner. Their really hasn’t been any other 800s run below 1:55 other than Tommy and Nate. Hrycay probably could have had he went after the 800/1600 like Tommy and Nate, but he stayed up at the longer distance thru his senior season. Aaron Leverson will join them this year. While I believe Rowan is the odds on favorite, Leverson is the same type of Athlete as Farrell and is most likely on a similar training plan. I wouldn’t be the least bit surprise if he is right there with Rowan at the line.


I’m impressed levenson won tfa indoors coming off the basketball season and agree he is a sub 1:55 candidate, possibly even sub 1:54 talent. I would love to know if he trained this winter? I will assume very little if he was playing hoops. That being said I think the current favorite is bosley (even off a triple) followed by Rowan followed by potter if he can figure out the race as a senior and if he can stay healthy. All these guys are 1:52/1:51 potential at least if fresh…I think and all have the talent to break the state record. It sounds like this coach (Janesville) knows how to work with someone not coming into the season with a base (I’m assuming your son also played basketball) but I think typically it’s not a good thing to not have a base and any type of minor injury or setback can hurt levenson more than someone who put in the work over the winter; hopefully he just stays healthy so it’s not an issue. Again this is not a criticism as I’m really impressed by him, and think his indoor success off a basketball season is rare I just think it’s a fact that a base is important even for the 800. That being said he won indoor tfa so who knows. Levenson will be fresher than bosley ellenburg and potter if they all run so that is to his advantage. If bosley and ellenburg don’t run expect guys like Ethan king and and Carter Snelson to potentially move up. I don’t know how fast Levenson is but King and Snelson can run an open in 49 seconds and Potter ran 48.4 at state as a sophmore. The 400 seems weak this year which is a disincentive for strength 400 runners to actually move up to the 800 as 49 flat MAY be good enough to win state for the second year in a row although I do expect someone to break out from the pack over the next few weeks and look more like a 48 flat athlete. I think potter was banged up this winter given he uncharacteristicly ran no races so I expect him to continue to improve if he can stay healthy.


Phil Downs:

09 - 4:20 - 9:18 - 15:53 at the Ridges
10 - 4:20i - 15:31 at Ridges
11 - 4:16 - 9:12
12 - 1:56 - 4:14 - 9:03 - 14:56 Midwest Inv

Phil was a three time state champion in cross country which is extremely rare and then a three time national qualifier in cross country which is also rare. The fact he was good for so long adds to his legacy but what is abstract is on the track he ended up almost the same as Alex Brill (4:14/9:02). When we talk about best crosstown rivalries in cross country Alex Brill vs Brett Kelly senior year was one of the best even though neither ran a top 10. Brill went ~15:32 at Midwest whereas Kelly went 15:30 at Parkside. Each week they ran against each other they went back and forth.


Also i just remembered Elliot Enright of Madison La Follete went 1:54.70i in 2002.


I caved and went from top 10s to top 20s in the first post but that is it. Won’t go any further.


We were not in that conference in 82 but wasn’t there a Sippy boy that ran very fast back in that era. Maybe Peyton’s dad or uncle but just a wild guess.