FALL CREEK — In their third year fielding a cross country team, the Elk Mound boys’ and girls’ teams have continued to improve from season to season. The boys, after placing seventh in the sectional meet last year, moved up to fourth this year, and in the process saw junior Ben Holzwarth qualify as an individual for the state meet, making him the first runner to accomplish this feat for the Mounders. And although the girls dropped a spot in the standings from last year, many of them continued to lower their times throughout the year.
Holzwarth punched his ticket to the big show in Wisconsin Rapids this Saturday by placing seventh among individuals who were not on the top two teams. He ran the winding course in a time of 17:56 which was 1:05 behind the winner Darin Lau of Immanuel Lutheran. Joining Holzwarth at state are the conference and sectional champion Colfax team, and individuals from the conference Ethan Brandt of Glenwood City and Tanner Johnson-Hetchler of Boyceville.
Elk Mound teammates following Holzwarth were Shawn Lane in 19th place at 18:45 and Mitch Zimmer in 27th at 18:57. The next three Mounders all came in under the 20 minute mark with Andrew Zabel in 36th at 19:19, Caleb Kruger in 42nd at 19:33 and Lucas Winter in 47th at 19:43. Drew Sternecker was the seventh runner in for the team, placing 80th at 21:51. There were 105 individuals in the race.
“Ben ran a great race, but I was a little worried when he was setting the pace and led the pack in the first mile,” coach Jeremiah Fredrickson said with a laugh. “And as a team, we ran as well as we could have. We wanted a 3-4-5 team finish and we accomplished that.”
Senior Emma Hayes led the Mounder girls as she has the past three seasons, placing 26th in a field of 91 competitors. Hayes ran a time of 18:04 as the team finished 12th and was followed by Waive Melgaard in 46th at 19:19, Sam Jain in 52nd at 19:46, Jamie Solem in 63rd at 20:25 while Danae Sternecker crossed the line in 66th with a time of 20:58 and Emma’s twin sister Josie Hayes ran with Alex Hagberg with Hayes placing 74th and Hagberg 75th, both with times of 22:29. Breanna Colbenson of Spring Valley was the individual winner in at 15:10 while her teammates won the team title with Colfax second.
“Emma’s final race was a good one against great competition,” Fredrickson said. “The Spring Valley and Colfax girls have been strong all year and our girls worked hard to lower their times this year. Waive and Sam also competed very hard and ran decent times today,” he added.