WISCONSIN RAPIDS — There were some expected occurrences and some un-expected ones when both the Colfax boys and girls teams competed at The Ridges Golf Course for the WIAA State Cross Country meet held under sunny skies Oct. 27 in Wisconsin Rapids.
The boys’ team was hoping for a top five finish after placing 13th last year, and came pretty darn close to that goal as they placed sixth out of 16 teams. And the girls exceeded their expectations with a seventh place finish with a new face in the lineup.
Lachlan Hinwood crossed the finish line first for the Viking boys as he has done all season, coming in at 17:24 for 38th place. Hinwood bested his time from the state meet last year by 50 seconds and moved up 38 places in the individual standings.
Michael Larson took the 66th spot with a time of 17:47 which was also an improvement over last year when he was 74th at 18:12. Close behind Larson was Matthew Almquist in 70th place at 17:51, which was 18 places higher than last year and 37 seconds faster, and the fourth runner in for the Vikings was Jeremiah Harder in 74th at 17:53. Harder also moved up from last year’s race as he improved by 1:10 and a 117th place finish. All four of these guys are seniors while the fifth runner in for Colfax was freshman Hunter Lieffort who was 104th with a time of 18:16. Senior Garrett Miller came in at 18:31 for 112th place, which was four seconds slower than last year at the meet. Another freshman, Zac Arvold was the final Colfax runner, placing 138th at 19:19. There were 152 individuals in the race. Darlington won the team title with Tyson Miehe leading them by winning the race at 15:51.
“We knew coming in this was a great field of boys and one of the best in Division 3 history,” Colfax coach Joe Doucette said. “We ran as well as we have run all year and if we had run just a bit better, we would have been in the top four. We had our first four guys run in under 18:00 and we have not done that very often in our school history. This is one of the best boys teams we have ever had and one of the most improved, not only from the beginning of this year, but all through high school.”
The Viking girls saw their two freshmen, Dempsey Fogarty and Courtney Dressel place in the top 15 of 150 runners as Fogarty was 11th in a time of 15:32 and Dressel finished under 16:00 minutes for the first time all season in 15:38 for 15th place. But the team had a different face in the competition as alternate runner, sophomore Dannielle Dachel replaced an injured Mackenzie Anderson and was the third runner in for Colfax. Dachel had just finished up leading the Viking volleyball team in assists for the season and was running her first varsity race and placed 50th in a time of 16:33. Amanda Rothbauer, normally the third runner in for the team, followed Dachel and was 100th in 17:17, and Heidi Lieffort was the final point scorer for the team, placing 131st in 18:09. Kenna Breckner, running for the second straight year at state, placed 133rd at 18:13. Breckner, who has been battling a bad case of shin splints all year, placed 48th last year with a time of 16:30. Mallie Doucette was the seventh Colfax runner, coming in at 18:49 for 145th place. Dunn-St. Croix Conference champions Spring Valley won the team title as individual conference champion Breanna Colbenson was second behind Ladysmith’s Andrea Ostenso who finished in 14:34.
“We were very excited for our girls to finish in the top half of the team competition,” coach Doucette said. “Dempsey and Courtney ran very relaxed and had great races. For Dannielle to come in and run for us like that was great. Not a lot of kids could do that and she gave us a chance to beat some other teams. We were solid after that but the competition is great. Our two seniors, Kenna and Brittany are great kids and were good teammates and have been a big part of our program.”
Eight seniors commented after ending their high school cross country careers.
Hinwood, a four year varsity runner and three time All Conference runner was happy overall with the four years.
“I would have like to have finished in under 17:00 this year at state but I’m not too disappointed with my time I guess,” he said. “Running with these guys really helped me because we all pushed each other and we wanted to get back to state after running here last year.”
Larson, also a four year varsity runner who was an All Conference selection three times, didn’t finish as well as he had hoped in his last race.
“I kind of gave up towards the end, then tried to fight back but it was too late,” he said. “I am a little disappointed in myself for not finishing as strong as I could have. But as a team, we were not that far out of third place so I’m happy with that. We had a lot of fan support all these years and that really helps when you hear everyone cheering for you,” he added.
Another four year runner and two time All Conference performer, Almquist thought the experience from competing last year at state was helpful.
“We knew what the course looked like so we had a feel for it and we probably were not as nervous because we knew what to expect,” he said. “It was a great way for our team to end the season, and I ran my personal best time so I ended my high school career on a high note, too.”
Harder did not pick up the sport until his junior year and was an All Conference runner this year.
“I felt really good at the start of the race,” he said. “But I was tired at the end and I didn’t run as well as I did at conference and sectional. But I am proud of this team and I could not have run as well these two years without them pushing me and helping me learn strategies of running. Being a member of the team two years and going to state both years is pretty great.”
Miller, noted for running shorter races during the track season, ran varsity cross country three years and was All Conference as a junior and senior.
“I’m happy our team got back here this year, but I’m not happy with my own time,” he said. “I ran a little better last year here and placed higher so I would have liked to have improved. But it was great running with these guys and it was fun competing here.”
Zac Christianson was an alternate for the sectional and state meet and ran three years for the varsity. He placed 45th in the conference meet as a junior with a time of 20:24 and was 53rd his senior year at 20:55.
“Even though I didn’t compete at state, it was a good experience to be here with my teammates,” he said. “ We all worked really hard and they deserved to be here. They really pushed me and made me a better runner.”
Two girls ended their high school careers including Rothbauer, a four time All Conference runner in her four years on the team. Rothbauer also competed in the state meet three times with her team and placed 76th at 17:01 her sophomore year.
“I really wasn’t nervous running here because it is just an honor to get here,” she said. “We couldn’t go any further then the state meet so I just wanted to have fun and enjoy it. I was happy with my finish and glad all my teammates ran well too,” she said.
Breckner not only fought against injuries this year, but was unable to compete her freshman and sophomore year due to other injuries. She made the best of her two varsity years however, earning All Conference both years and running at state as an individual her junior year as well as with her team this year.
“I liked running with my team better this year,” she said. “It’s more fun to have your teammates with you and I wasn’t quite as nervous this year and I felt good running. I knew what to expect but the competition was really tough. It was fun finishing the season here,” she added.
“We really appreciate all the things these seniors have done for the program here at Colfax,” Doucette said. “They represented our school very well and will all be very tough to replace. I also want to give credit to my assistant coach Chuck Brown for all his hard work with the kids,” he added.
BOYS TEAM SCORES: Darlington 50, Boscobel 99, Chequamegon 132, McDonell Central 189, Marathon 191, Colfax 207, Grantsburg 244, Lake Country Lutheran 244, Bonduel 244, Sheboygan Area Lutheran 246, Rosholt 256, Brookwood 259, Blair-Taylor 266, Manitowoc Lutheran 268, Laconia 277, Kenosha St. Joseph Catholic 287
GIRLS TEAM SCORES: Spring Valley 108, Darlington 110, Cedar Grove-Belgium 123, Random Lake 182, Laona-Wabeno 187, Westby 189, Colfax 192, Lourdes Academy 201, Kenosha St. Joseph Catholic 212, Edgar 221, Poynette 232, Living Word Lutheran 234, Phillips 261, Amherst 276, Blair-Taylor 279, Hurley 321