By Missy Klatt
WISCONSIN RAPIDS – By race time on Saturday, October 27th, the rain had stopped and the Hilltopper ladies were ready to get down to business at the WIAA state cross country championships.
Unfortunately, the results were not as good as they would have liked but sometimes it is easy to forget the great accomplishment of making it to state- let alone five straight trips to state as a team.
Head Coach, Matthew Schutz concurs, “The team results weren’t where we were expecting.”
As Coach Schutz summarized at the pep fest prior to heading to state. Twelve of the sixteen teams that were competing at state this year, competed there last year. For four teams including Glenwood City this is their third straight year at state. For three teams this is their 4th straight year at state and for just two teams this is their fifth consecutive trip to state “which makes this accomplishment a rarity.”
The Lady Toppers finished 13th in a field of 16 with a team score of 266 in the WIAA Division 3 girls’ state championship race held at the Ridges Golf Course in Wisconsin Rapids.
Lancaster took first place honors with a score of 74 and were followed by Auburndale with 91 points and Dodgeland with 147. The Hilltoppers finished two points behind conference rival, Durand and 15 points ahead of sectional runner-up, McDonell Central.
With only seven runners allowed to race at state, the Toppers had three freshman runners take the course, including Bella Simmons who was the first Hilltopper to cross the line in the 35th position with a time of 20:36.6. Next in for the Toppers were juniors Izzy Williams and Emily Bethell who are also veteran state competitors. Izzy finished in 84th (21:49.4) with Emily 12 places back in 96th (22:20.4). Freshman Kendall Schutz was close behind in 103rd (22:30.1). Sophomore Gabby Moede, another state veteran came in 125th (23:12.4) with freshman, Samantha Peterson in 141st (24:09.5) and junior, Azra Ibrahimagic 142nd (24:22.0) to complete the squad of seven.
“I felt Bella Simmons ran a good race, but the rest struggled to step up to the level of competition that is at the state meet,” stated Coach Schutz. “With hills normally, some of their times would be good, but not here. However, I’m still very proud of them for all they have accomplished. They made some huge strides from the beginning of the season to get where they finished.”
Marissa Ellenbecke from Edgar was the WIAA division three girls’ champion with a time of 19:06.4. Meygan Benzing of Dodgeland was the runner-up with a time of 19:12.5 and Madison Sands of Durand took third with a time of 19:18.4.
Although only the top seven runners are allowed to race at state, the whole team was able to travel together to Wisconsin Rapids and lend their support. The remaining team members are senior, Hanna Strehlo; sophomores, Annika Bauman, Myah Eliason, Alex Swanepoel; and freshman, Ella Knops, Payton Knops and Isabella Christmas.
TEAM RESULTS: 1. Lancaster 74, 2. Auburndale 91, 3. Dodgeland 147, 4. Rosholt 147, 5. Ootsburg 151, 6. Marshall 191, 7. Boscobel 214, 8. Cashton 231, 9. Cedar Grove-Belgium 243, 10. Weyauwega-Fremont 250, 11. Bonduel 251, 12. Durand 264, 13.
Glenwood City 266, 14. McDonell Central 281, 15. Cameron 296, 16. Phillips 350.