Hatchet harriers fall short of dreams in state cross meet
Sometimes it just doesn’t work out, no matter how much you desire it.
Tomahawk senior Rachel Sudbury and sophomore Bryan Tomek came flying into Saturday’s WIAA State Meet at the Wisconsin Rapids on a current of superlative sectional efforts. Sudbury had won the Freedom Sectional with a school record 14:53, and Tomek had powered to a runner-up finish.
But Sudbury settled for a 56th-place finish in 15:59.59 on the difficult Ridges Golf Course, while Tomek placed 109th in 18:03.37. Dodgeville’s Molly Hanson won the girls’ D2 4K race in 14:23.10, and New Glarus’ Ryan McCoy took the boys’ 5K event in 15:38.27.
“Both Rachel and Bryan had set realistic goals going into the State Meet and did everything correct in the training process,” THS coach John Zuelsdorf said. “It was just unfortunate that for the second straight year they weren’t able to reach their goals.
“The coaching staff is closely looking at what can be done in training, Sectional-level race strategy, pre-state hype and mental preparation to help our athletes in future individual qualifying appearances in Rapids.”
It was tough to pin down the factors in Sudbury’s atypical race.
“Rachel went out with the leaders in the first 400 meters, but by the 1000 meter mark was already showing visible signs of early race fatigue that she hasn’t shown all year,” Zuelsdorf said. “She came through the mile almost right on pre-race pace that she planned, however had nothing left for the 1000 meter key part of the race that immediately follows. She told me post-race she just felt flat and that knew early in the race it just wasn’t going to be her day.”
“I felt bad for her as she has worked so hard for four years and she wanted to make her last race her best race. In hindsight, her outstanding race at the Freedom Sectional the week before that ‘punched her ticket’ to state may have taken a toll on her, that she wasn’t able to recover fully from prior to State. She has been such a positive role model and ambassador for our sport, something that is going to be hard to replace.”
A freak injury contributed to Tomek’s less-than-optimal performance.
“Bryan also looked solid through 2000 meters of his race as he got out in the top-third of the field and came thru the mile right on his pre-race goal as well,” Zuelsdorf said. “Somewhere in the second mile he said that he came down off of a riser and kind of jammed his leg landing flat-footed and causing him some discomfort with each step after that. We noticed that he was kind of hobbling after the two-mile (point) and had dropped several positions, so we knew something was up. After the race, it didn’t surprise us when he told us that there was something that contributed to his change of pace and gate.
“For Bryan it has to be kind of disconcerting that he has progressed so well all season only to struggle with his state race. The external issues that he has dealt with both years are not normal and very uncommon to a typical state-level race experience. Again, this should serve to motivate and give him additional focus on his off-season preparation and training. Coupled this with his natural speed and ability, he could be a dangerous force to reckon with next fall. Bryan’s running resume is solid and this is just a minor set-back for him in the overall picture.”