Third time a charm for Tomek
The Hatchets string of 20 consecutive state appearances was bumped up another notch when Bryan Tomek ran fifth overall in Saturday’s loaded WIAA Waupaca Sectional. Tomek, a junior, has three straight qualifications himself.
The boys ended up 7th of the 16 teams, while the girls raced 6th.
“Bryan got out comfortably strong with the lead pack of five runners and they separated themselves from the field by the 1000 meter mark and by the 3200 they had significantly gapped the field,” THS coach John Zuelsdorf said. “But, when (Joe) Hinz from Freedom surged shortly after the 3200, Bryan couldn’t respond and found himself racing for 4th with (Devin) Sauvola from Pines. Down the home stretch he wasn’t able to put the hammer down as he had been doing all year long and had to settle for 5th.
“Although it was a state-qualifying effort, he wanted more out of this race and rightly so, as he came into the race as the top returning runner from last year’s sectional. Post-race we learned that coming out of the hills mid-race both of his calves cramped slightly causing him to make stride adjustments. Now looking at it, he was fortunate not to fully lock up and go down. I’ve seen that happen many times to athletes. He will be ready to go and hungry to avenge his position with those four athletes that finished in front of him next weekend at Rapids.”
Tomek finished in 16:47 and was backed up by Ryan Kuehn (29th, 18:05), Troy VanStrydonk (52nd, 18:51), Austin Kaiser (64th, 19:22) and Jacob McGuire (68th, 19:35). Dakota Tomek (70th, 19:38) and Jared Kiander (76th, 19:45) competed.
“The athletes had high expectations going into the sectional meet, with good reason,” Zuelsdorf said. “For the past month most had been surpassing their PR’s nearly every meet and running solid gaining racing experience as they improved. We had no reason to doubt that this would continue. Also, the factor of racing on the Waupaca course in late September and having the success that we did only heightened the anticipation of sectional competition. As a coach I had felt that our girls had worked their way into a legitimate challenger to advance position, our boys could improve their positioning on GNC teams at the meet, and that Bryan could sit atop the section when all was said and done.”
“For the most part, we fell short of our team and individual aspirations at the meet. As a coaching staff we looked at things in retrospect and are convinced that this was the first time this year that the athletes actually underperformed due to ‘over-thinking’ and ‘over-analyzing’ things and not relaxing and just running the races that they were capable of running. I’m not one for excuses, but we were counting on 10 of 14 athletes that were new to varsity cross country this year and nine of those ten that were freshman or sophomores. That’s what you call ‘youth’ and we should have realized that going into a race of this magnitude this could happen.”
“The course was a lot softer due to recent rains and only half of our athletes bettered their times from the previous meet in Waupaca last month. We really needed all athletes to run faster than they did at the end of September and many come close or exceed their PR’s to reach their goals. Unfortunately, this didn’t happen and we ended up where we did in both races.”
The girls were pushed by Stephanie Welke (25th, 17:26), Alex Zedler (27th, 17:38), Dani Whiting (44th, 18:04), Emmy Larson (53rd, 18:12) and Audrey Dichsen (57th, 18:22). Talyn Jones (58th, 18:23) and Kayla Gass (83rd, 19:24) also ran.
“We knew that Freedom, Clintonville, and Colby had some solid and experienced front runners in their scoring packs, but we didn’t expect those athletes to go out as aggressive as they did most going anaerobic so early in the race,” Zuelsdorf said. “By the mile, those teams had established their scoring athletes in the top 20 of the field and we had only our lead runner in the mix, with Stephanie. As the race progressed, our scoring group struggled to make up that gap and found themselves competing with the next tier of teams and the 6th-7th runners of the top teams. Those individuals from teams that were able to advance ran their final 800’s in the sub-3:20 range and we had no girls break 3:30 in their final 800, which compounded our scoring and team placing struggles.”
Team standings– Girls–Freedom 53, Clintonville 59, Colby 107, Seymour 127, Little Chute 171, Tomahawk 206, Lakeland 207, Peshtigo 217, Waupaca 245, Mosinee 247, Fox Valley Luth. 248, Medford 274, N. Pines 284, Oconto Falls 336, Wittenberg 371, Marinette 427.......Boys–Freedom 26, Little Chute 83, Oconto Falls 116, Lakeland 143, Medford 149, Seymour 201, Tomahawk 208, Colby 232, Peshtigo 264, Wittenberg 270, Waupaca 285, N. Pines 306, FVL 313, Mosinee 353, Marinette inc., Clintonville inc.
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