County runners find ways to smile
The Bluejay and Hatchet runners joined nearly 60 teams in Saturday’s Smiley Invitational at Wausau’s American Legion.
Tomahawk pulled out the stops, ranking 6th of 15 teams in the girls D2 race and 10th of 34 in the D2-3 combined event, while the boys rated 7th of 17 in D2 and 9th of 35 in the combined.
“(The) Smiley is a meet that we circle on our calendar every year!” THS coach John Zuelsdorf said. “Most years we try a mini-taper for this meet; we even took a mid-week rest day to prepare for Smiley this year. If the post-meet stats were any indication, it appeared to work as all the girls and all but two of the boys either PR’d or had seasonal bests.”
“Bryan (Tomek) continues to make a statement as one of the best in the area and possibly the state as he raced one of the top runners in D3, (Andrew) Studinski from Marathon, and the Shorewood runner (Charlie Stahl) to the wire. His time would have won the D1 race by nearly 30 seconds.
“For Ryan (Kuehn) and Steph (Welke) to run their last Smiley races and medal was special. They have put so much effort into our program for the past four years, each race that they run this year has special meaning for them as it does for all of our seniors.”
Tomek was just five seconds behind Stahl, placing 3rd in 16:31 in the combined. Kuehn (27th, 17:56), Ben Bartz (116th, 19:47), Vic Ierulli (141st, 20:07), Jared Jarvensivu (142nd, 20:08) capped the scoring and Chandler Tollison (188th, 21:28) and Tyler Mackin (193rd, 22:03) competed.
Welke (22nd, 16:43), Alex Zedler (27th, 16:56), Dani Whiting (50th, 17:22), Emmy Larson (97th, 18:04) and Audrey Dichsen (114th, 18:18) completed the THS score and Talyn Jones (156th, 19:23) ran.
The Bluejay boys ranked 5th of D1 small schools and 16th of 24 D1 schools overall. The girls rated 9th of 11 in the D1 small and 21st of 24 D1 schools overall.
“The Smiley Invitational always brings out interesting results for our Merrill runners,” MHS coach Craig Hoffman said. “I don’t want anyone of our runners selling themselves short and kicking themselves later in life knowing they could’ve done better. ‘No regrets’ would be a good motto for any team to adopt.
“Our steady #1 runners didn’t disappoint us. For the boys, Garrett Schmelling ran a very good pace. Garrett is as tenacious as you can get. He gets himself out in front of the pack of runners and is a ‘steady Eddie’ for the rest of the race.
“Sophomore Jacob Jensen is a raw energy runner who has great potential to see things go well for him this season. Our boys have a lot more talent than they give themselves credit. If we can relay that thought to the grass and gravel we’ll be on our way to very, very successful season.
Schmelling (10th, 17:42), Jacob Jensen (24th, 18:35), Ethan Schneider (26th, 18:43), Dylan Schielke (31st, 18:55) and Andrew Seaman (38th, 19:07) pushed the boys squad and Reese Beyersdorf (47th, 19:17) and Andrew Koch (56th, 19:41) competed. Sydney Harris (18th, 16:50), Svetlana Heisinger (36th, 17:51), Kate Williams (54th, 18:19), Morgan Pettit (58th, 18:37) and Christa Schleif (59th, 18:41) led the girls, and Kendra Andreska (61st, 18:53) and Ashley Berton (68th, 19:20) also ran.
“Sydney missed a medal by a mere two-second difference,” Hoffman said. “Her time wasn’t what we expected of her, but we will learn from this race. Svetlana is our roller coaster runner. Svetlana starts strong, fades in the middle then rebounds for the finish. We will need to work with her on keeping a pace.
“Our surprise of the day was sophomore Kate Williams. Kate is now running where we want her to run. She has a lot of room for improvement. Freshman Morgan Pettit and sophomore Christa Schleif are hard, raw runners who need to catch the competitive fever. I would like them both to go out and get aggressive in the middle of the course. Their mental toughness needs some minor tuning.”
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