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Spring Valley, Colbenson compete in strong Division 3 girls' field

The team champion may be the same but there will assuredly be a new individual champion from the Division 3 girls' race at the WIAA State Cross Country Meet this Saturday.

Oshkosh Lourdes has possessed the title the last two seasons and has sights on a third title with four returning runners from last year's championship squad.

But Molly Seidel of Hartland University Lake School has graduated and is now running for Notre Dame. Gone with her a four straight D-3 titles plus a state record winning time of 13:39.59 that she ran in last year's meet at the Ridges Golf Course in Wisconsin Rapids.

Lourdes claimed back-to-back titles in winning the Division 3 meet, compiling 57 points. Runner-up Fond du Lac St. Mary's Springs finished 15 points behind with 72.

No. 2 ranked Lourdes may well be the team favorite but five other teams in the top seven last year with loads of state meet experience return to challenge for the crown. No. 9 Cedar Grove-Belgium, No. 7 Living Word Lutheran and No. 8 Spring Valley have virtually their entire cast with six of their runners back after placing fourth, fifth and seventh, respectively.

The top-ranked team in Division 3, Darlington, placed third a year ago, and No. 5 Edgar, which placed sixth, have five runners back that competed in the meet last year. Other ranked teams in the field include No. 3 Westby, No. 6 Kenosha St. Joseph, No. 11 Laona/Wabeno, No. 12 Colfax, No. 13 Random Lake, No. 15 Phillips and No. 16 Poynette.

Breanna Colbenson of Spring Valley, who was runner-up last season, third in 2010 and sixth in 2009 is the top returning runner in the Division 3 field. Others expected to be among the front-runners are senior Andrea Ostenso of Ladysmith, who was third last year after placing 10th in Division 2 in 2010, and junior Delaney Sinnen of Random Lake who placed fourth last year. Junior Isabel Seidel of University Lake School has sights on keeping the title in the family. She has credentials to contend after finishing fifth a year ago and eighth in 2010. Junior Abby Moore of Lourdes placed seventh in 2011 and should also be among the leading finishers. Others who could be in contention for the title are senior Allyson Daines of Westby, juniors Leah Johnson of Pardeeville and Natalie Miller of Three Lakes, and sophomore Nora Keller of Lourdes.

Also competing in the state meet from Pierce County is Prescott's Cole Hauenstein in the Division 2 boys' race. This is Hauenstein's second straight appearance at state.

The state begins at 11 a.m. with the boys' Division 3 race. The D-2 race begins at 11:40 a.m. and the girls' Division 3 race starts at 1 p.m.