By Nick Beversdorf
Merrill cross country traveled to Wausau on Saturday to participate in the 60th annual Smiley Invitational at Tribute Golf Course. Although there were a few personal bests, as a whole the invitational served more as a reference point that the Merrill runners could look back upon in order to improve.
The boys varsity team placed 23rd out of 24 teams with a team time of 1:38:49. Senior Andrei Heisenger lead the team with a time of 19:01.68, followed by Sophomore Stephen Koch at 19:19:26.26. Freshman Dominic Laufenburg was third with 19:50.05, Senior Nathan Koch fourth at 19:57, Junior Jacob Novitch fifth at 20:31.71 and Freshman Ethan Cordova right behind in sixth with 20:32.84. Sophomore Ethan Halfman rounded out the bottom with 20:56.99.
The girls varsity team was in much of the same boat, placing 21st out of 22 teams with a team time of 1:56:55. Sophomore Dalie Thomas was the team leader with a time of 21.21.98 and an overall time place of 56 out of 164. Senior Deanta Saunders placed second with a time of 22:47.25, Junior Lily Reimann placed third with a time of 24:06.01, Sophomore Hunter Zecca placed fourth with a time of 24:12.91, Junior Autumn Schenzel fifth with a time of 24:24.15, Sophomore Sophie Priebe sixth with a time of 24:59.33 with Sophomore Anne Herdt right behind her in seventh with a time of 25:05.55. Junior Allie Becker Backer rounded out the Merrill finishers with a time of 25:27.26.
The JV boys placed 16th out of 18 teams with a team time of 1:54:35. Sophomore Alic Berreth placed first in the team with a time of 21:01.61. Junior Brody Gehrke placed second with a time of 22:35.83, Sophomore David Genrich third with a time of 23:14.11, Senior Dallas Kaufman fourth with a time of 23:49.51, Freshman Alex Gehrke fifth with a time of 23:51.62, Senior Trevor Stadler sixth with a time of 23:52.97 and Freshman Mayka Goetsch seventh with a time of 27:20.64.
“The Smiley Invitational is always a very emotional meet for our runners. It’s a huge invitational and either our athletes perform well and are mighty pleased with their results, or we missed the mark somewhere along the way and were happy to get out of there and prepare for the next meet. The latter prevailed,” commented Coach Hoffman.
“We had glimpses from a few runners who improved their seasonal or personal best, but as for the team effort, well, let’s archive the results and improve for the next meet. Sophomore Dalie Thomas ran a great race who positioned herself early in the race and kept her pace throughout the race. Junior Allie Becker had an opportunity to run varsity for the first time in her short career and had her eyes opened to some of the best runners in the state! Our boys ran well as a pack, but didn’t move into positions that were competitive for the field that was there on Saturday.
“We have to lower our times collectively, otherwise we will not compete against our conference runners with much to offer. It starts from the top runner to the seventh runner on varsity, they all need to improve with much better times. Their hard workouts and fitness training during the week haven’t materialized on the day of the meets, so we need to find out if this is just simply mind over matter,” stated Hoffman.
Varsity cross country will have their next next invitational at Frey Field in Spencer on Thursday at 4:30 p.m.