The THS cross country teams both had dreams of racing to GNC titles at Nine-Mile Forest on Saturday despite tough competition. But the Hatchet girls pulled off a seventh straight conference title with a fast finish, while the boys finished a solid third.
“We were a little concerned with both our squads,” THS coach John Zuelsdorf said. “The girls hadn’t really run with a 100% healthy squad all season, and the boys had fallen into a complacency ‘funk’ in their racing.’
“Antigo and Mosinee on the girls side had the inside track on the title and Lakeland looked like they had a good shot at repeating as champs. Our girls however, showed that they were not to be denied and ran strong, especially in the last third of the race. They didn’t panic when they saw Mosinee and Antigo go out fast in the first 800 meters. That’s a trait of a veteran team that we like to see at this point in the season.”
Rachel Sudbury ended up 2nd to Lakeland’s Delaney Fitzpatrick in 15:06, and Stephanie Welke (7th, 16:36), Jessie Harmon (9th, 16:42), Kelsey Renn (14th, 17:04) and Rachael Miller (16th, 17:12) closed it out. Emily Miller (19th, 17:27) and Taylor Laack (21st, 17:32) inflated scores.
“‘Rachel and Fitzpatrick were the class of the field and with Rachel doing the bulk of the work through the entire race, it came down to a sprint to the finish,” Zuelsdorf said. “Fitz was just able to pass Suds at the line.”
The top 4 girls earned All-GNC and R. Miller just missed.
“Rachael had a seasonal best time, finishing in front of nearly all the other team’s fourth runners,” Zuelsdorf said. “Emily and Taylor helped inflate their opponents scores as they placed in front of all other team’s fifth runners.”
Bryan Tomek ran 2nd in 17:21, and Dylan Dahl (12th, 18:12), Troy Salewske (18th, 18:33), Garrett Daigle (21st, 18:37) and Ryan Kuehn (23rd, 18:47) scored. Connor Ahrens (25th, 18:53) and Brogan Lemke (28th, 19:02) finished close behind.
“The boys had a good plan to upend the T-Birds, and although our effort was there, we were unable to offset some of the great Lakeland performances,” Zuelsdorf said. “It’s exciting to know that we have another crack at them on Saturday at sectionals in Freedom. We need to perform with renewed fervor if we are to finish in front of them, which would give us a good shot at advancing (to state) for the tenth straight year.”
Tomek was the only freshman on the All-GNC team.
“If he continues to run with confidence and doesn’t panic he has a great shot at advancing (individually) this next weekend,” Zuelsdorf said.
The girls (48) put a move on Lakeland (57), Antigo (72), Mosinee (83), Medford (132), Rhinelander (133) and Pines (168). The boys (76) trailed the T-Birds (49) and Rhinelander (63) and edged out Antigo (77). Medford (107), Pines (147) and Mosinee (188) filled it out.