A slice of tradition returned to Tomahawk’s Edgewater Country Club when the 35th annual Hatchet Invite cross country meet drew 15 teams-including Merrill and, of course, host THS.
The Hatchet boys ranked third and the girls fourth, while the Bluejays rated 10th for girls and 11th for boys.
“It was a beautiful day to race-almost too nice with the warmer weather-and I think the athletes really enjoyed it,” THS coach John Zuelsdorf said. “We had several athletes run personal best times for both the 4K (girls) and 5K (boys) distances.”
MHS coach Greg Eichelkraut added, “It presents an opportunity to run a fast time, and offers enough variety so the runners don’t get stuck in a rut. We look forward to this meet. There’s certainly some good competition.”
The THS boys used Bryan Tomek (4th, 16:59), Dylan Dahl (27th, 18:13), Troy Salewske (29th, 18:18), Garrett Daigle (34th, 18:31) and Ryan Kuehn (35th, 18:35) to score 129 points and trail just Wausau East (45) and Chequamegon (85). Brogan Lemke (38th, 18:38) and Connor Ahrens (41st, 18:46) also competed.
The girls were paced by Rachel Sudbury (4th, 15:24), Stephanie Welke (16th, 16:25), Jessie Harmon (21st, 16:38), Kelsey Renn (26th, 17:16) and Emily Miller (35th, 17:46), and Rachael Miller (36th, 17:48) and Taylor Laack (42nd, 18:16) inflated foes scores.
Wausau West edged East 40-44 for the girls title, and Antigo (90) slipped ahead of Tomahawk (102) for third.
“Our freshmen are really stepping it up and running some solid races,” Zuelsdorf said. “That race experience will only serve to help them in the next two weeks. Bryan and Jessie on the varsity level had super races. Bryan has the distinction of being the fastest freshman in school history as he is the first freshman (boy) to break the 17-minute barrier.
“The girls race featured some of the top individuals in the state, as well as the defending state champs from Wausau East. Sophomore Andy Ostenso from Ladysmith turned in the second-fastest time in the state at 14:09 to date as she shattered the old course record by a whopping 46 seconds.”
The Bluejay boys finished with 266 points, hinging within shouting distance of Antigo (188), Auburndale (188), Rhinelander (201) and Wausau West (224).
Andrew Seaman (43rd, 18:53), Marcus Reinhardt (52nd, 19:18), Lucas Gessler (55th, 19:24), Andrew Koch (57th, 19:24) and Trevor Myers (59th, 19:32) scored, and Michael Seaman (66th, 19:55) and Mitch Sherfinsky (68th, 20:03) also ran.
“On the boys side this was an improvement,” Eichelkraut said. “They’re getting down there in the low 19’s and our top five were able to work together. Our upperclassmen and underclassmen out for the first year are running very consistently.
“Marcus had the race of the day. He’s cleaning up some leg issues and is finally coming into his own. Andrew Seaman got out on his pace very well and executed his race plan for a personal record. Andrew and Marcus pushed through the middle so well. They just nailed it.”
The Merrill girls tallied 249 points to trail Rhinelander (215) and Flambeau (194). They were led by Sydney Harris (20th, 16:32), Ashley Berton (46th, 18:28), Kendra Andreska (55th, 18:55), Maria DeBroux (63rd, 19:24) and Kathleen Zeitz (65th, 19:30). Kelci Peterson (67th, 19:34) and Megan Berndt (68th, 19:40) also competed.
“It just plain wasn’t their day,” Eichelkraut said. “Due to a variety of individual issues, we raced below our potential. Kendra brought it up a notch. Our #7 runner, Megan Berndt, has come a long way and practically caught our pack. Everyone else had a tough race but we’ll work it out by conference.”
The Valley meet is being held NW of Marshfield on a private farm, located six miles west of Hwy. 97 on Cty. C.