Pierce County runners get ready for state cross country meetSeveral individuals and one whole teams will compete in the WIAA State Cross County Meet Saturday at the Ridges Golf Course in Wisconsin Rapids.
Several individuals and one whole teams will compete in the WIAA State Cross County Meet Saturday at The Ridges Golf Course in Wisconsin Rapids.
The meet starts with the Division 3 girls' race is scheduled at 11:00 a.m. at The Ridges Golf Course. Parking is not available at the golf course. Free shuttle buses are available for transportation to the golf course. See the WIAA website (www.wiaawi.org) for details. Admission is $6.00; pre-schoolers get in free.
That race will feature Spring Valley's girls' team making its first appearance not just at the state cross country meet, but the first appearance any Spring Valley girls' team has made at any state team competition.
But the field of teams in the meet will be tough. In Division 3, seven of last year’s field of 16 teams return, including defending champion and No. 1 ranked Oshkosh Lourdes and No. 6 Edgar, which won the back-to-back titles in 2008-09 and placed sixth in 2010. No. 2 ranked Fond du Lac St. Mary’s Springs is back after placing third a year ago. Lourdes returns three competitors that ran at state last fall, while St. Mary’s Springs and Edgar return five runners each. Also in the field is No. 3 Darlington, No. 4 Boscobel, No. 5 Cedar Grove-Belgium, No. 7 Living Word Lutheran High School out of Jackson, No. 11 Stanley-Boyd, who was runner up to Spring Valley in the Fall Creek Sectional meet, No. 12 Laona/Wabeno, No. 13 Phillips and No. 16 Pittsville. Spring Valley is just one of five unranked teams in the D-3 meet but head coach Jim Herold doesn't seem to mind.
"I prefer it that way," Herold said. "I like to sneak up on other teams and not be a target. And there's no pressure on us to uphold any kind of ranking. For our first state meet, we can just run and see where it takes us."
For one Spring Valley runner, it's her third straight state meet. Junior Breanna Colbenson finished third last year and sixth the year before that. But just like her Cardinal team she will be in a field with best D3 runners. In fact it includes one of the nation's best runners in Molly Seidel of Hartland University Lake School.
Seidel is attempting to become just the second girl in meet history to win four State titles, joining Olympian Suzie Favor, who accomplished the feat from 1982-85 running for Stevens Point. Given that she set a state record time this fall and the fact she's one of the top three cross country runners nationally, she's a strong favorite to win again.
"She's way up there," Herold said. "She's an impressive runner and more than likely be way out in front. But if for any reason the lead pack can keep up with her or she doesn't run as well, hopefully Breanna can be in a position to challenge and go for it."
Colbenson has some impressive pedigree as well having already won one of the world's largest cross country meets at the Griak Invitational last month on the University of Minnesota-Twin Cities campus. And unlike most of her meets she'll have plenty of company around her. Other returning contenders are seniors Miranda Brown and Grace Meurer of St. Mary’s Springs, who finished fourth and seventh, respectively, last year. Sophomore Isabel Seidel of University Lake School, who placed eighth last year, is another returner that should be among the leaders this year. In addition, junior Andrea Ostenso of Ladysmith is also back after finishing 10th in Division 2 last season as Ladysmith drops down a division. Other contending runners include senior Tory Palmer of Pittsville, senior Clare McDonald of Oshkosh Lourdes, junior Mariama Dryak of Blair-Taylor and freshman Keely Foley of Boscobel.
Other Pierce County runners at state this year include Ellsworth's Isaac Taplin and Prescott's Cole Hauenstein in the Division 2 boys' meet, which is set to start at 1:40 p.m. and Prescott's Victoria Simones in the Division 2 girls' meet which will run at 11:40 a.m. Both Hauenstein and Taplin will be running in the same Lane No. 15.
Tapling will be in his second state competition and Hauenstein his first. EHS head coach Jon Dodge hopes Taplin will enjoy in the final cross country race of his high school career. Taplin finished 24th in last year's race in 17:09.
"I hope he has fun," Ellsworth head coach Jon Dodge said. "I hope he can celebrate not just a good finish in the meet but capping his high school running at the biggest meet at this level and realize where his hard work has brought him."
Prescott head coach Dave Vortherms hopes not only for good times and places for Hauenstein and Simones but also covered feet. Simones lost a shoe on the course in last year's race and fell back to finish 66th in a time of 16:23. Like her good friend Colbenson, this will be Simones' third straight state meet.
"This year we want to move up in the individual standings and right now she's running the right way to do so." Vortherms said.
Hartland Arrowhead will vie for its second straight Division 1 boys’ title at the state high school cross country meet tomorrow in Wisconsin Rapids. Shorewood is going for its third straight championship in Division-Two. Kenosha Saint Joseph will run for back-to-back titles in Division-Three. Michael Evans of Valders is the only returning champion for the boys. He won the Division 2 gold medal a year ago. On the girls’ side, Wausau West is in the running for its third straight Division 1 crown. Dodgeville/Mineral Point is going for back-to-back titles in Division-Two. And Oshkosh Lourdes is back to defend its Division-Three girls’ title. Besides Seidel, D-1 champ Alexandria Fons of Franklin is the only other girls’ returning titlist.