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Who's in line next? Prescott CC eyes State

Prescott sophomore Ella Linder is about to hit the water in one of the river crossings during the River Falls Extreme Meet last Thursday. Bob Burrows / RiverTown Multimedia

For 10 years, Prescott has had at least one individual compete at the state cross country meet in Wisconsin Rapids.

The goal has always been to push a team through sectionals to state, but they haven't quite achieved that.

This year, though the main goal is still to have the girls or boys team make it to state, another goal in the runners' minds as the Prescott cross country season gets underway is to keep the streak of sending at least one individual to state going.

Cody Hauenstein is a senior and has not made it to state for cross country. His older brother was part of the streak and his close friend Philip Peña, who graduated last year, continued the streak last year. Hauenstein and Dylan Rieken seem like the likeliest candidates.

"It was always one of my goals to go with (Peña), but I never got it done," Hauenstein said. "I feel like senior year, I'll finally get it done."

There's the motivation to get to state like his friend Peña, but there's definitely a push from his brother to get to state as well.

"He's been there for me all along," Hauenstein said of his older brother. "He pushes me when I get home from practice to remind me why we work so hard and he motivates me telling me to keep working hard because I only have one more shot."

With all of that in mind, Hauenstein still has high expectations for his teammates too.

"Our top five runners are really really strong, so I think we still have a shot at making it as a team," Hauenstein said. "Our sixth and seventh are really going to be able to push us, though, too. We have a lot of good runners."

Head coach Steve Peterson sees Hauenstein as having a good chance at making a state run. But he's also excited to see the team take steps forward and continue to build the program.

"This year is interesting for us because we lost our top runner for (the girls and the boys)," Peterson said. "Phil Peña and Sam Ritter each had the record for the fastest 5Ks in Prescott history. So replacing them is going to be difficult."

Difficult, but certainly attainable.

"We've lost a lot of seniors over the last two years, but we've built up our program where we should have some really good runners ready to step in," Peterson said. "That said, this should be one of the most veteran groups we've ever had because of our depth."

On the girls side, there are more athletes ready to give Prescott another chance at a state berth.

"As of right now, I have high hopes for both of our teams," senior Kjerstin Carlson said. "The thing is, once we lose somebody who graduates, we always find new faces to fill in and stand out."

Who are those new faces that are standing out?

"Mari Sommer has gotten a lot better since last year, so she's standing out," Carlson said. "Then some new faces, Kiera Penk and Ella Linder are up there with us and doing really good this season."

Looking at the big picture, Carlson was cautiously optimistic about the team's chances to send an individual to state.

"I don't want to jinx anything, so knock on track, but I think Cody Hauenstein is doing a great job this year," Carlson said. "He's been close the last two years.

"Our teams have been close the last two years. We'll see how it all turns out."

Prescott's runners competed for the first time this season at last Thursday's River Falls Extreme Meet. Because this race is run in an old fashioned cross country style, which includes six river crossings, times are much slower than typical races. But in terms of placing, the meet held quite good results for Prescott.

For the first time, Prescott had two runners place among the top 10 finishers in the boys varsity race. Hauenstein was the fifth place finisher and Rieken placed tenth.

The results were also promising for the Prescott girls. Mari Sommers was Prescott's top finisher in the girls varsity race, where the senior placed 19th. In the girls junior varsity race, freshman Kiara Penk took third place in her initial high school race.

Reporter Dave Newman contributed to this report.