Bluejays, Hatchets show 1-2 punch at Marathon Invite
The Merrill and Tomahawk cross country teams both brought something special to the table in Thursday’s Marathon Invite.
The MHS boys served up a championship, while the THS girls edged out Merrill’s for their gender title. The Hatchet boys ranked third in the eight-team meet.
“(The MHS boys were) hot, humid and on fire,” stated MHS coach Craig Hoffman. “Our boys did an outstanding job of running as a pack until the final 800 meters, then we encourage to go out and pick up runners and race through the chute. Our girls team has the same philosophy and proved it by coming in a close second right behind our Lincoln county comrades out of Tomahawk.”
“Each individual runner encouraged each other to finish strong as a team. We couldn’t have asked more from them.”
The Bluejay boys tallied 43 points, tied with Marathon, but a Reese Byersdorf broke the deadlock with a 15th-place finish, nine seconds quicker than Marathon’s sixth.
Merrill was paced by Garrett Schmelling (4th, 17:40), Dylan Schielke (6th, 18:19), Jacob Jensen (9th, 18:32), Andrew Seaman (10th, 18:37), Ethan Schneider (14th, 18:51), Byersdorf (15th, 19:01) and Andrew Koch (32nd, 20:33).
“Individually, the likes of Garrett, Dylan, Jacob, Andrew (Seaman) and Ethan will continue their pack running right through the rest of the season,” Hoffman said. “They push each other during practice and they continue this during the meet as well. Our ‘shining star’ was our sixth runner, Reese Byersdorf, who helped break a team-point tie. We talked about the importance of our sixth and seventh place finishes that may determine a team placing since the first day of practice, and by golly it helped us in this meet.”
The Hatchets girls were led out by Stephanie Welke (4th, 16:50), Dani Whiting (10th, 17:53), Alex Zedler (13th, 18:11), Emmy Larson (22nd, 18:48), Audrey Dichsen (24th, 18:53) and Talyn Jones (34th, 19:49).
That gave THS 73 points, eight fewer than Merrill after Sydney Harris (5th, 16:57), Svetlana Heisinger (14th, 18:12), Kendra Andreska (18th, 18:21), Ashley Berton (19th, 18:38), Morgan Pettit (25th, 18:57), Kate Williams (33rd, 19:44) and Christina Schleif (38th, 19:53) crossed the line.
“This was our first trip to the Sawmill Classic,” THS coach John Zuelsdorf said. “It was a close meet on a challenging course with some quality teams. Both squads had race strategies they were working on and individual improvement goals that wanted to achieve. As a staff, post-race we felt that many of these were met as we evaluated the stats. All of our girls that competed at Ashland and all but one of our boys improved their times. If the athletes continue to make this kind of effort and improvement we will be a very different team at the end of the season.
“For our girls team to capture their first team invitational title was a bonus and gave them some added confidence this early season. Merrill has a solid girls team that we thought late race, where we observed them (at the two mile mark), had the title wrapped up. However, they faded a bit and we stayed steady which proved to make the difference for us.”
Hoffman noted, “Our girls ran a tremendous race and deserve a lot of credit by staying close to Tomahawk in team placing. Sydney continues to do her job at whittling away at the top finishing a close fifth. Svetlana is finding out her capabilities and is physically throwing her best to finish near the top. Kendra and Ashley continue to improve their finish placing and are fierce competitors wanting to do well for the team. Freshman Morgan Pettit is improving each meet and is realizing that she can compete with high school seniors and juniors.
“Our girls are showing true ‘Bluejay spirit’ competing well and pushing each other to do their best. They are representing our school in a very positive way. Both boys and girls teams show that they can compete in a very tough conference and a very competitive region of runners.”
The THS boys were pushed by Bryan Tomek (3rd, 16:55), Ryan Kuehn (13th, 18:46), Troy VanStrydonk (19th, 19:17), Austin Kaiser (27th, 20:13), Jacob McGuire (30th, 20:26), Ben Bartz (34th, 20:39) and Dakota Tomek (36th, 20:44).
Team standings–Boys–Merrill 43, Marathon 43, Tomaahk 92, Witt./Birn. 95, Auburndale 132, Pittsville 145, Stratford 152. ......Girls–Tomahawk 73, Merrill 81, Stratford 94, Marathon 99, Pittsville 113, Three Lakes 124, Auburndale 137, Witt./Birn. 140.
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