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By Missy Klatt
WISCONSIN RAPIDS — The Glenwood City Hilltopper Girls’ Cross Country team had its best finish at a state meet over the weekend.
The Hilltoppers ran to a sixth-place finish in the WIAA Division 3 Girls’ State Cross Country meet held this past Saturday, November 2nd at the Ridges Golf Course in Wisconsin Rapids in less than stellar running conditions. What started as a chilly, blustery race with a few snowflakes turned into a snow squall at the finish line. This was the team’s sixth consecutive trip to the state meet and the best finish in as many years.
When this dynasty started in 2014, the Glenwood City girls’ first trip to state garnered them a 12th-place finish. The following year, in 2015, the Lady Hilltoppers had their worst showing when they placed 15th. In 2016, they were 8th and then 9th in 2017. Last year the ladies had a discouraging 13th-place showing.
While this year’s sixth place was the Toppers’ best finish, it should be pointed out just how close the score was between the top six teams.
First-place Lourdes Academy was the clear winner with 112 points, however, between second-place Gillett and sixth-place Glenwood City, there was only a seven-point difference. Gillett came in with 126 points followed by Auburndale in third with 128 points, Oostburg won a tie breaker to take fourth place with 132 points over fifth-place Lancaster, who also finished with 132 points. The Hilltoppers were just one point behind with 133 points and 40 points ahead of the seventh-place team from Ozaukee.
Glenwood City head coach Matthew Schutz said, “At the state meet this year, we knew there wasn’t going to be one or two teams that would run away with the state title. As we prepared for the meet I put us in a category of seven teams that would compete for the title. It was ours if we all ran our best. And it turns out that those were the top seven teams after the meet was ran.”
With 149 runners in the race, sophomore Bella Simmons led the Hilltoppers with a 19th-place finish which ties Emily Bethell for the best Toppers’ finish at a state meet in a 5K race. Bethell, now a senior, set this mark as a freshman. Simmons ran the race in 20:19.1. Next in for the Toppers was junior Kinzie Strong in 23rd with a time of 20:32.5, followed by senior Izzy Williams in 30th (20:48.9), sophomore Kendall Schutz 79th (21:45.5) and Emily Bethell in 98th (22:14.6). Rounding out the varsity running at state were juniors Gabby Moede in 123rd (23:11.0) and Annika Bauman in 143rd (24:57.9).
Abby Bartel of Weyauwega-Fremont earned the girls’ Division 3 individual crown with a time of 18:52.9.
Schutz praises his team by saying, “We came to compete and I’m proud that my girls took on that challenge. Our top three runners had a great race coming in the top 30, and Kinzie Strong coming out of nowhere to place 23rd overall. Our fourth and fifth runners ran a respectable race, but it wasn’t enough. All five of our top runners had the opportunity to catch one or two girls that happened to cross the finish line with less than one second ahead of them. Those places/points could have made the difference between sixth and second, but that’s what makes this sport great.”
“The state meet has so many girls running at the same level that the finish line is pretty exciting at this level and those split seconds determine champions,” continued Schutz. “After placing 13th last year (our worst finish at state), the girls didn’t disappoint with their 6th-place finish (best over the last six years). We were so close to taking a trophy that if we ran it on another day, maybe the outcome would be in our favor. The girls should be proud of all they have accomplished this season.”
The Hilltoppers will have a hard time replacing seniors Emily Bethell and Izzy Williams as they will once again try and make their way to state next year.
Girls’ D3 Team Scores: 1. Lourdes Academy 112, 2. Gillett 126, 3. Auburndale 128, 4. Oostburg 132, 5. Lancaster 132, 6. Glenwood City 133, 7. Ozaukee 173, 8. Durand 184, 9. Darlington 211, 10. Marathon 249, 11. Brookwood 270, 12. Bonduel 288, 13. Chequamegon 295, 14. Cameron 344, 15.Catholic Central 365, 16. Prentice/Rib Lake 376.