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Colfax girls race to fourth place finish at state meet

WISCONSIN RAPIDS — After being ranked anywhere from 11-16 in the state poll over the season, the Colfax girls’ cross country team more than exceeded those expectations as they finished fourth in the field of 16 teams. That ties the best finish the girls’ team has achieved at the state level with the 2010 team, according to coach Joe Doucette.

 “We really weren’t sure what to expect after the rankings this year,” Doucette said. “To tie our best finish ever was bittersweet. This was our eighth trip to state for the girls and we really want to finish in the top two one of these times, but fourth for us this year was pretty exciting.”

For any Colfax fans attending the race at The Ridges Golf Course in Wisconsin Rapids, they may have looked twice when the Viking runners were heading into the finish line. Although Dempsey Fogarty was coming off a sectional championship just a week ago, teammate Dannielle Dachel was the first one to come in for the team, placing 22nd as an individual and 11th in the team standings. It was the second year at state for both girls with this being the first full year of competing for Dachel, (which really wasn’t a complete season since she missed a few meets due to volleyball commitments). Dachel finished with a time of 16:05 this year after running 16:33 for 50th place last year, while Fogarty, dealing with some health issues came in at 16:22 for 37th place compared to an 11th place at 15:32 just a year ago.

The Vikings’ third runner in, Courtney Dressel, who wasn’t feeling well according to Doucette, was also competing at state for the second time, placing 57th at 16:38, a full minute slower than last year’s time for 15th place. Abbagail Schotter was on her heels, one spot behind in 58th at 16:39 and the final point scorer for the team, senior Heidi Lieffort, running in her third state meet, placed 122nd at 18:25. As a junior, Lieffort placed 131st with a time of 18:09 and during her freshman season, finished at 18:00 for 110th place. Ally Heidorn and Mallie Doucette ran together for much of the race as Heidorn placed 140th at 19:16 and Doucette was 141st at 19:17. It was Doucette’s second straight year at the big show as she finished 145th last year with a time of 18:49.There were 151 individuals in the race which was won by Delaney Sinnen of Random Lake who finished 46 seconds ahead of the runner up with a time of 14:22. The team title went to Lourdes Academy, but Colfax, after placing second at the sectional meet to Eau Claire Regis, finished four places ahead of the Ramblers and Dachel beat their top runner Eileen Endres, who was the sectional runner up to Fogarty, by five seconds.

Three seniors concluded their careers for the team including Lieffort, Doucette and McKenzie Anderson, who battled injuries the past two seasons and did not compete this year. Lieffort was a four year letterwinner and was a part of three conference championships and as mentioned before, competed three years at state. Doucette competed three years for the team after playing volleyball as a freshman and was a part of two conference champion teams and two state qualifying teams. She had probably her best race of the season this year when she was the fifth runner in for the Vikings in the sectional meet, allowing the team to qualify for state. Anderson was a member of a conference championship team two years and placed 26th at the conference meet as a freshman.

Running in their final meet, Lieffort and Doucette commented:

“I never imagined when I started running as a freshman I would compete at the state level three times,” Lieffort said. “I was pretty happy with my place this year and I think I was a little more relaxed just because I had the experience of being here before. Our coaches (Doucette and Chuck Brown) did a great job of preparing us for this race and all season long.”

Mallie Doucette, although not as pleased with her finish at state as Lieffort was said:

“I always think I can run better. We had higher expectations coming to state this year so I was a little more nervous. But placing fourth was a good way to end the season.”

Other Dunn-St. Croix Conference runners competing were Emma Gaustad of Spring Valley in 20th and Taylor Drinkman, a freshman from Glenwood City in 34th.

“I am very proud of how the whole team battled and hung in there,” coach Doucette said. “For Dannielle to lead us to a fourth place finish tells you a lot about her ability and competitiveness. And with Dempsey and Courtney not feeling the best, they ran hard while Abbagail and Heidi running in the 4-5 slots ran an amazing race. We couldn’t match up with the top two teams so third was probably the best we could have done if we had run a near perfect race. The state meet is a great experience and great atmosphere to run at and we wanted to represent Colfax as best as we could. I think we did that and hopefully we can get back here again since five of our top seven runners are underclassmen,” he added.

TEAM SCORES: Lourdes Academy 45, Cedar Grove-Belgium 83, Lake Country Lutheran 132, Colfax 176, Brookfield Academy 202, Poynette 208, Phillips 213, Eau Claire Regis 218, Chequamegon 233, Brillion 239, Westby 250, Darlington 263, St. Mary’s Springs 291, Pacelli 291, Cameron 332, Melrose-Mindoro 339