By Marlys Kruger
When they left Elk Mound, the cross country teams were thinking they would be competing for a second meet in a row with high humidity and temperatures in the 90s as they headed to the Bloomer Invite Sept. 4.
But things changed quickly as a storm passed through Chippewa County, delaying the girl’s race three times, which meant the girls then had to warm up three different times. But the storm also dropped the temperature 10-15 degrees in an hour, making things a bit more comfortable for all runners involved.
The Mounder girls, led by a second place finish from Emma Hayes, finished fourth out of six teams while Ben Holzwarth came in third to pace the boys as the Mounders placed third of four teams, just four points out of second.
Hayes ran a time of 17:30 as Chelsea Tremblay of Hayward blazed through the 4K course at 16:24. Freshman Waive Melgaard was the second Elk Mound runner to cross the line in 16th place at 19:23 but teammate Jamie Solum was just two seconds behind in 19:25 for 17th.
Sam Jain cruised in at 20:38 for 26th place, and the final three runners for the team came in pretty close together as Danae Sternecker was 32nd at 22:13, Josie Hayes was 33rd at 22:46 and Alex Hagberg came in at 23:14 for 35th place. There were 46 individuals in the race.
“I thought Emma ran a pretty smart race,” Elk Mound coach Jeremiah Fredrickson said.
“And Waive, just a freshman, is learning how to run the 4K distance, as is Danae who is a first time runner. Jamie and Sam are both coming on a little and I think the gap between our first and fifth runners will get a lot smaller as we move forward. I was proud of all our girls because they really tried to get out quicker and be in a position to succeed at the end of the race,” he said.
The Mounder boys are not lacking in numbers as they had 16 of the 55 participants in the meet. Holzwarth ran the 5K race in 18:33, 27 seconds behind the winner Jake Luedtke of Hayward. Mitch Zimmer was back in the second spot for the Mounders, finishing seventh at 19:16 and the next three Mounders ran in a pack as Andrew Zabel was 13th at 20:23, Shawn Lane was five seconds behind in 14th at 20:28 and Caleb Kruger came in at 20:34 for 16th place.
Another group of Elk Mound runners followed including Lucas Winter in 21st (21:44), Hunter Henning in 23rd (22:02), Drew Sternecker was 26th (22:29) and Hunter Hermes was 27th (22:44). The next group to finish were RJ Cheek in 32nd (23:12), Dakota Peters, 34th (23:15), Seth Kruger, 36th (23:54), Dan Bachman, 37th (24:02), Josh Hall, 43rd (24:59), Chris Jaenke, 44th (25:01), Alec Winter, 45th (25;13), Gabe LaRock, 51st (28:45) and Jon Baggs, 52nd (31:20).
“Ben got out to a fast start and forced the other runners to chase him down,” Fredrickson said.
“Mitch ran one of his better races of the season and Andrew, Shawn and Caleb formed a nice pack and really pulled each other along. We have a large number of guys in the 21-23 minute range who are first or second year runners learning how to race. We are hoping they can step up and we can have 7-9 of them under the 20 minute mark before the conference meet,” he added.
Girls team scores: Hayward 43, Bloomer 47, Cornell-Lake Holcombe 71, Elk Mound 88, Cheyek-Weyerhaeuser 119, Cumberland 140
Boys team scores: Chetek-Weyerhaeuser 35, Hayward 45, Elk Mound 49, Bloomer 105