Too Close to Call
New Glarus/Monticello Cross Country Teams Are State Tournament Bound!
October 28, 2021
An ideal Wisconsin fall day occurred this Saturday. Cool, sunny, calm, with trees at their colorful peak. To improve on perfection, imagine standing on an immaculately groomed golf course covering bluffs overlooking the Wisconsin River. We arrive at the Prairie du Chien Country Club as the fog lifts like a curtain to reveal a rolling landscape. From the north end to the south, the course drops 100 feet and our athletes must run down and back three times to complete their 5 kilometer (3.1 miles) race. The first mile includes some ups and downs, the second mile more hills and the third is grueling as they battle the rolling terrain while climbing from lowest to highest point for the third time.
Melanie Fink describes her race, "The first mile felt good but when I checked my watch I was over 20 seconds ahead of schedule. I was worried because I might have gone out too fast, but I pulled it together throughout the second mile. The third mile was very hilly but I told myself this was my last chance and if I wanted to get another week then I had to push through. I finished with my fastest time ever by 20 seconds and we are Statebound!!"
Annika Ziperski exclaims, "Mile one, my body and mind felt strong and determined to PR on this foggy course. Mile two, I struggled physically going up and down the several hills in Prairie du Chien. Mile three, I knew I couldn't drop out now, I passed a very important Mount Horeb girl up the final hill and had a strong finish. As coach Dennis said to us, we are in control of how we perform at that race. I ran this race as if it were the last race, but our team made it possible to have one last meet. The State Meet."
Lucy Melvin states, "If you just hung in there and ran the first and second miles smart, the third mile was not too bad! I felt like we all just held on really well and did what we needed to do."
Two teams, of the fifteen at this D2 Sectional, move on to the State meet. Although we defeated Mount Horeb during the season, today they arrive sporting seven healthy athletes. Our first runner, Lily Maynard (20:22) finishes, as we expect, behind the first Viking, Dayna Karls (20:28) ahead of their 2nd, Annika Ziperski (21:13) ahead of their 3rd, Mel Fink (21:36) in front of their 4th and Emma Martinson (21:53) defeats the 5th. During awards we wait for the final results. Shockingly, they announce Mount Horeb in 4th! Who is third? Did someone sneak in to beat us? "Monroe in third with 112 points. And in second with 106 to qualify for the State Meet, New Glarus-Monticello." We quickly check the results: Cheesemakers first, second and third each snuck in ahead of our 1, 2 and 3 but Mel and Emma defeated their fourth while Lucy Melvin (21:59) and Camryn Arnett (22:14) finished ahead of the fifth Monroe gal to eke out second place. For the record, a powerful Dodgeville/Mineral Point girls team scores 43 to sew-up first place.
An official in the finish chute summarizes the race in a surprising way, "Your girls won their trip to State as they each passed someone at the finish line."
Similar to rock-paper-scissors, each of the following boys teams defeated each other during the season: New Glarus-Monticello, Mount Horeb, Monroe and Lodi. Dodgeville/Mineral Point remains ranked 2nd in state, so the four schools focus on each other to capture the runner-up and State qualifying spot.
Fifteen teams fly downhill for the start. After a fast first mile, NGM looks to be in fifth place. We catch glimpses of our guys as they appear at hill tops then disappear into the next valley. At mile two, Lodi's whites run ahead of our blues.
Ian Schwartzlow summarizes, "First mile, fast because it was downhill, all the top teams went out fast anticipating going to State; rolled through the second kinda going out an holding the pace you set; mile three was all out, after all those hills everyone just went with what they had left. Because my sprint wasn't going to be good, I just tried to pick it up during the last 400 meters to go."
Tom Nelson finished fast enough to qualify for State as an individual if the team failed to make it. He relates, "First mile really fast and congested with traffic and a lot of chaos going on, of lot of tripping going, I tried to move up and keep with my pace, just tried to keep my 5th place because I knew I would qualify for State. I pushed as hard as I possibly could to secure the spot 3 seconds ahead of the next person and 4-5 behind the guy in fourth."
Grayson Rodefeld succinctly states, "First and second smooth, third hurt a lot, spent it on the finish."
Coaches Ann DeNure and Molly Delwiche attempt to keep score at the finish line but lose track of several guys with similarly colored uniforms. We think Lodi took the second spot to move us out of contention. Just before the awards ceremony, we receive partial information: Tom Nelson (17:01) finishes 1st place behind Lodi but Evan Guenther (17:14), Braylon Hoesly (17:50) and Brayden Ryan (18:06) cross seconds ahead of their Blue Devils. Fifth man, Ian Schwartzlow (18:26), follows the fifth Lodi by 10 seconds. Five boy runners slip in between Ian and that Blue Devil. Our sixth man, tie breaker Linden Lounsbury (18:32), and back-up runner, Grayson Rodefeld (18:37), clearly finish ahead of their counterparts.
The PA system announces the ten bottom teams before saying "in fifth Mount Horeb 140 points, fourth Monroe 131, third...(the announcer always pauses for dramatic effect at this point), Lodi 104 and New Glarus-Monticello second with 99 in runner-up spot qualifying for State along with Dodgeville/Mineral Point 62.
Slightly shocked by the double victory, we reflect on the many miles run during the summer months, the hard training during the season and the courage to pace-the-race as everyone else went out too fast. D2 boys race Saturday at 12:00 p.m., and our girls at 1:45 p.m., at The Ridges Golf Course in Wisconsin Rapids.