Prep Cross Country Review and Preview: County teams ready themselves for sectionalsBids to the state cross country meet are on the line for Pierce County teams at this weekend's WIAA sectional meets.
Bids to the state cross country meet are on the line for Pierce County teams at this weekend's WIAA sectional meets.
Plenty of individual runners have gone to state from Ellsworth, Prescott and Spring Valley combined but no team from the county has gone together since the Ellsworth girls did so in 2005.
This weekend's sectional meet may offer the best chance since then to have both boys and girls team from the county.
The Ellsworth boys' team snagged a top 15 ranking in the final state coaches' poll before this Saturday's Division 2 sectional meet at Black River Falls at Skyline Golf Course. However, the Panthers' main competition for the two spots which go to state are No. 2 ranked Nekoosa-Port Edwards and No. 5 La Crosse Aquinas. Last year the Panthers took fourth.
"It's going to be tough and we're going to need everyone's best to have a shot at making it," EHS head coach Jon Dodge said. "We're coming into the meet off one our our best showings of the season at conference and hopefully we continue it."
If not a team then certainly more individuals will at least reach the top five individuals not on a qualifying team which will also make the state meet in Wisconsin Rapids. This includes Prescott's Cole Hauenstein and Matt Pechacek along with Ellsworth's Matt Priest, Ike Taplin and Jaylen Pavloski in the boys' race and two-time state qualifier Victoria Simones from Prescott and Ellsworth's Cassie Lofgren for the girls'.
Hauenstein, this year's Middle Border Conference champ, missed out on a chance to qualify for the state meet last season due to injury and Prescott head coach Dave Vortherms said he's looking for to running this weekend.
"This is his opportunity and he's going to make the most of it," Vortherms said.
The girls' team title contest in the sectional is more wide open than the boys with just two lower ranked teams No. 12 Aquinas and No. 13 ranked Sparta. Ellsworth's girls and Prescott boys' will both be competing for top 10 finishes in the 16-school meet which begins at 10 a.m.
The Division 3 sectional meet this fall will move from its recent place at Boyceville to Fall Creek where it hasn't been in nearly a decade. Spring Valley's girls look to qualify as a team but have to get healthy first as late season injuries to several runners kept them from winning the Dunn-St. Croix title. Valley tied for fifth in last year in the team standings. Their main competition for a state bid will come from No. 14 Colfax, who edged them by 10 points to win the D-SC meet last week, No. 9 Eau Claire Regis and No. 11 Stanley-Boyd in the 17-team field which also includes the Elmwood program.
SV's Breanna Colbenson is looking to win her first sectional title and qualify for state for the third season in a row. The meet begins at 11 a.m.
No. 5 Grantsburg and No. 12 Eau Claire Regis are the two favorites to go to state in the boys' meet.