Bluejay runners on the cusp in Merrill Invite
A gorgeous day and course greeted runners at Saturday’s Merrill Invite at the MARC, and the Bluejay harriers took advantage of those conditions.
Garrett Schmelling and Sydney Harris each captured individual titles, while both the boys and girls squads ranked second in the four-team meet.
“What a beautiful day in the neighborhood!,” MHS coach Craig Hoffman noted. “We had a beautiful day and some beautiful personal records set this past Saturday.
“Our first place finishes for both varsity races with senior Sydney Harris and senior Garrett Schmelling racing one of their better races all year was very satisfying. I told them early on that this is their final race at our own invitational and they should try to take ownership of their respective races. They listened well and the final results proved that.”
Schmelling completed the full 5K event in 17:03, while Harris ran her 4K course in a season-best 16:15.
The boys tallied 45 points to trail leader Chequamegon by 23, and the girls were toppled 39-46 by Mosinee.
Jacob Jensen (9th, 18:25), Ethan Schneider (10th, 18:26), Reese Byersdorf (12th, 18:35), Dylan Schielke (13th, 18:36) and Andrew Koch (15th, 18:46) all cracked the top 15.
“Our boys ran pretty impressive times improving their performances as they near our upcoming conference meet,” Hoffman said. “With senior Garrett Schmelling finishing on top, we needed additional runners running their best running times to take the team championship. We didn’t get it, but both Coach (Bethany) Martinovici and I were impressed with the finishing times of sophomore Jacob Jenson, junior Ethan Schneider, junior Reese Byersdorf and senior Dylan Schielke.”
Kate Williams (5th, 16:55), Morgan Pettit (10th, 17:18), and Svetlana Heisinger (12th, 17:26) did it for the girls, while Ashley Berton (18th, 17:35) capped the scoring. Kendra Andreska (23rd, 18:14) and Brooke Arneson (24th, 18:33) also competed.
“Coach Martinovici and I were also impressed with sophomore Kate Williams and freshman Morgan Pettit,” Hoffman said. “Those two have had trouble believing in themselves that they could race with the top tier and now they have proof they can compete with them. Very impressive running, by those two.”
The team as a whole learned valuable lessons on their home course.
“This was a good day to evaluate what we need to do as a team to compete well in our conference meet coming up the next couple of weeks,” Hoffman stated. “Our practices will now focus on our individuals doing the best they can physically do and build up their mental toughness. The combination of the two (physical and mental) will determine where our Bluejays will finish this year.
“I believe our best running times are yet to come. All we need to do is keep healthy, fine tune our pacing, and don’t stray from our will to win.”
The Bluejays boys JV squad undercut Chequamegon 30-35 for first place behind Michael Seaman (1st, 18:58), Brett Swan (3rd, 19:15), Trevor Myers (4th, 19:20), Jeff Alvey (13th, 20:36) and Matthew Dewar (14th, 20:52).
The girls JV had four solid performances from Shelby Harris (2nd, 18:13), Rachael Romanowski (3rd, 18:23), Mickenna Comstock (10th, 19:20) and Sarah Ponzer (12th, 19:33), and could have easily finished second as a team with a fifth scoring runner.