Saturday dawned an absolutely gorgeous morning for the three teams that showed up for the Merrill Invite, staged out of the MARC and into Council Grounds State Park.
A couple of squads didn’t make the event, but two of the top teams in the Valley – Wausau East and West – showed off their chops on the beautiful 5K course.
“After a two week hiatus from competing, our boys had some interesting finishing times and placings,” commented Coach Craig Hoffman. “We had Ethan Bares, a freshman newcomer to our program, take the top finishing place for Merrill. Ethan ran a conservative race until the last 800 meters, when he realized he had enough energy to move ahead and overtake our other top runner, junior Trevon Oberg.
“We broke many personal records for the year this morning and I think part of that is because it’s our own invitational, the course itself which is one of the finest courses you can run, and the beauty of the day.
“I was impressed with the runnings of sophomore Jacob Romang, and freshman Stephen Koch. We’re a relatively young group of runners who can only see brighter days ahead.”
Bares (16th, 18:56) edged Oberg (18th, 19:00), and Andre Heisinger (20th, 19:10) slipped ahead of Romang (21st, 19:23). Nathan Koch (25th, 20:00) closed the scoring just ahead of Mark Thompson (28th, 20:19), Stephen Koch (31dst, 20:34) and Drake Hirte (32nd, 20:39).
The girls continued to shake things up with a new inter-squad ranking.
“It’s anybody’s guess on who will finish first,” stated Hoffman. “We have 7-8 runners who on any given day could be the top place finisher. This time it was junior Deantae Saunders, who took off early in the race and maintained her placing throughout the competition.
“Closely following her were sophomores Autumn Schenzel and Lily Reimann. The trio of senior Kennedy Soderberg and freshmen Dalie Thomas and Hunter Zecca rounded off the top five for Merrill. I’m really impressed with our girls competing against each other, while supporting each other.
“Pack running always seems to help us and if we can continue to drop our times, then we can have a winning combination.”
Saunders (14th, 22:35), Schenzel (17th, 22:59), Reimann (19th, 23:06) paced the group, while Soderberg (23rd), Thomas (24th) and Zecca (25th) were timed in 23:36. Sophie Priebe (31st, 24:24) and Rachael Romanowski (32nd, 24:28) also competed.
The Jays will check out the entire Valley slate this week.
“Running against the Wausau teams certainly helped evaluate what we need to do for the conference meet this coming Saturday at Nine Mile (Forest),” Hoffman noted.
Team standings- Boys- Wausau East 26, Wausau West 29, Merrill 100…….Girls– Wausau west 23, Wausau East 32, Merrill 97.