"We're In the Woods, We're in the Woods"
May 6, 2021
"What color are your uniforms?" asks the Stoughton coach. "Royal blue, and yours?" I politely respond. "Purple" comes the reply as he continues to set-up the course around his high school on this windy Saturday. When another team asks personal questions, it means they take you seriously.
About sixty schools across the state postponed their fall cross country season until spring. A majority of the sixty are big D1 schools. The WIAA divided us into four sectionals with two teams in each sectional qualifying for the State Meet. To think New Glarus-Monticello is considered a contender is encouraging.
Our girls prepare to start in Wave One precisely at 10:00 a.m.
"We had to wait another 8 months to have a season after we heard our school would be participating in the alternate fall season. When we finally got the opportunity to compete again, we knew we had to make the best of it. The girls team went undefeated the whole season, and we didn't want to stop there. We stepped up to the starting line a little nervous, but excited for another chance to race. We knew if we worked together as a team like we have been this whole season, we would be successful," said Dayna Karls.
Our NGM'ers position themselves well during the first mile then..."Four Oregon girl runners passed me at the second mile causing me to doubt my running ability. But, I remembered how much going to state meant to my family, school, coaches, and teammates. Our hard work must not go unnoticed. And it didn't, as we won ourselves a trip to state!" exclaimed Annika Ziperski.
Lily Maynard leads the team as they battle the strong winds and long rises on the course. Oregon girls clearly dominate the first wave. We're confident we've placed a strong second with Lily (21:03), Annika (22:01), Dayna (22:31), Melanie Fink (22:47), Emma Martinson (23:17), Tenley Faber (23:24) and Lucy Melvin (24:42) running fast times for the conditions.
Moments after finishing this race the girls' second wave takes off. We witness Milton and Janesville Craig battle and easily defeat the other teams in their wave. The computer works to combine the two races into one and we dejectedly assume NGM finished fourth. Our Coach Ann DeNure walks away from the finish line with her yellow notepad full of times and quietly says "We're still in the woods, we're still in the woods" Sure enough, times appear slow in the second heat. We wait.
The NGM boys line-up next to Stoughton. This wave of eight teams turns into a blue versus purple contest from the beginning.
"I started off the race great, right where I wanted to be; after the mile one, I had a definite struggle for the next mile or so. Realizing what was at stake, I regathered myself and found a second wind the last mile, had a couple of great surges to move up in places and just gave it everything I had to the finish," said Tom Nelson.
Evan Guenther relates, "Since this was the largest meet of the year so far, I liked having such exceptional competition to push me to run my best race."
Also reacting to the competition Brayden Ryan comments, "The course was harder than expected, I ran a bit too fast the first two miles and really paid for it the rest of the race."
Stoughton knows their home course and it shows, as Viking Jayden Zywicki (16:42) finishes first, a minute ahead of our Joe Quaglia (17:47), their number two beats Evan Guenther (18:12) and third bests Braylon Hoesly (18:30). Tom Nelson (18:33) turns the tables beating his Viking runner but Purples cross ahead of Ty Ready (18:56) and Brayden Ryan (19:00). Conor McCoy (19:05) dominates his seventh man.
We assumed Janesville Craig would win the second heat. They run even with Evansville and Oregon then pull away near the end of the 5 kilometer race. Our boys' chances appear dim but once again Coach DeNure smiles and repeats "we're in the woods, Craig times are slow, we're in the woods!"
The announcer starts with girls results, "Oregon in first place 31, also qualifying for State, New Glarus-Monticello with 92, Stoughton 128, Milton..." we're no longer listening, we're celebrating, we've qualified for one more week of the season!
After announcing the seventeen girls results, the PA system crackles and begins "Stoughton in first earning 63, in close second with 75," New Glarus-Monticello, stunned it isn't until announce is past "Janesville Craig 100, Evansville 127" and beyond that we find voice to our feelings. Both B & G teams on to State!
The Alternate Fall State meet includes eight teams racing at Blackhawk Golf Course in Janesville this Saturday at 10:00 a.m. NGM appears to be the smallest school, facing Madison West, Middleton, Stevens Point, Green Bay Preble, Sun Prairie among other biggies. We're deep In the Woods!
Our gals appreciate the opportunity provided to us this season: "It was definitely a team effort because we needed everyone's time to get the win!" said Melanie Fink. "I'm really happy we're going to state but even happier with the friendships I've made with my teammates," Lily Maynard said.