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Hilltopper girls finish season at State Cross Country meet

WISCONSIN RAPIDS — It may not have been the finish the Hilltoppers wanted, but for the second straight year, the Glenwood City girls’ cross country team capped its season at the state meet.

After taking 12th in their first-ever state tournament appearance a year ago, the Hilltoppers were looking to build on that finish when they competed in the 2015 WIAA State Cross Country Championships Saturday, October 31 at the Ridges Golf Course in Wisconsin Rapids.

But a frightful day of weather that included a steady rain along with cool and sometimes windy conditions played a trick on the Lady Toppers’ plans to improve their positioning in this year’s Division 3 team standings.

Instead, Glenwood City finished 15th out of the 16 teams competing for the title with a score of 308. Many of the Toppers’ runners’ times were a minute or more slower and dozens of places behind those in 2014.

“We just started out too slow as a team and couldn’t make up the places,” commented Glenwood City head coach Matthew Schutz on the girls’ state race this past Saturday. “It definitely was not our best race as a team.”

“We certainly wanted to improve on our placing at last year’s (state) meet,” continued Schutz. “But the fact we qualified considering the injuries we had all season showed a lot of heart and determination.”

Lourdes Academy of Oshkosh claimed their third consecutive Division 3 girls’ state championship as it edged out Westby for a second straight year 98 to 105. Dunn-St. Croix and Boyce-ville sectional champions Colfax finished third with 127 points.  Albany (160) and La Crosse Aquinas (172). The last public school to claim the D3 girls’ title was in 2012 when the Cardinals of Spring Valley flew away with the crown.

As she has all year long, senior Morgan Kadinger paved the way for the rest of her teammates as she had the Toppers’ best finish at state taking 78th in a time of 21:57.05. A year ago, Kadinger turned in a 20:58.98 on the identical 5,000 meter course for 42nd place.

But that was typical for most of the Toppers’ times last Saturday versus a year ago.

Junior Taylor Drinkman overcame an ACL injury and the subsequent surgery to compete her third straight cross country state meet Saturday where she was Glenwood City’s second runner to cross the finish. Drinkman, who was 30th in 2014 with a 20:41.12, placed 90th this year after recording a time of 22:15.07.

Like a year ago, sophomore Makayla O’Brien was the Toppers’ third runner to finish. O’Brien finished just three places and nearly nine seconds behind Drinkman. O’Brien’s time of 22:23.58 and 93rd place was less than a half a minute and two place finishes off her 2014 pace.

Kaylie Scalze, who did not run on the varsity squad last year, finished as the Hilltoppers’ fourth runner. Scalze placed 111th after turning in a time of 22:54.02 on the slick Ridges’ course.

Glenwood City’s other two seniors were the next to complete the state race course.

Macie Rasmussen secured the Toppers’ fifth position with a 23:16.97 for 120th place. Both were marked improvements over her 2014 state meet run where she finished in 138th place with a time of 23:47.33.

“Macie ran better than anyone,” noted Coach Schutz. “She had her best time of the year and improved on last year’s state meet time.”

After missing her entire junior season due to a knee injury, Maya Petersen provided the Toppers with stability in her final year of eligibility. Petersen ran a 23:40.53 this past Saturday and finished 126th in the 148-runner field.

Sophomore Elizabeth Wink rounded out the Toppers’ line-up as she ran to 138th place in 24:13.10. Wink finished 136th in last year’s state meet and was GC’s fifth runner that day with a time 23:37.58.

“I am extremely proud of them for finishing their year at the state meet,” Schutz said. “That’s where everyone wants to finish their season.”

Schutz also gave kudos to his three departing seniors – Morgan Kadinger, Macie Rasmussen and Maya Petersen – saying, “They are going to be irreplaceable due to their work ethic, desire, coachability and attitude. All three are top notch athletes and young women and they are going to be missed a lot.”