County sends parade of runners to D-1 State Cross Country Meet
In combing through the results of a WIAA Division-1 cross country sectional on Saturday at Grant Park in South Milwaukee, one may try to pick out which county runners advanced to the State Meet.
It would almost be easier to pick out the ones who didn’t.
In a memorable performance for county cross country annals, the Indian Trail boys and girls teams, the Tremper girls team, Tremper senior Owen West, Central junior Will Allen and Wilmot sophomore Amber Blount all advanced to Saturday’s Division-1 State Meet at Hartland Arrowhead.
Four boys teams and four girls teams competed at the sectional, with the top two teams and the top five individuals from non-qualifying teams from each field advancing to state.
In the boys field, Indian Trail placed second with 51 points, behind only Lake Geneva Badger’s 23. In the girls field, Tremper claimed the team title with 43 points, while Indian Trail was second with 49.
Allen, meanwhile, placed second in the boys race with a time of 16 minutes, 40.8 seconds, behind only Badger sophomore Jackson Albanese’s 16:26.3, to advance to state. West also advanced by placing eighth in a season-best 17:17.7.
And in the girls race, Blount makes her second consecutive trip to state after finishing fifth with a time of 20:14.6.
It certainly was a remarkable performance all around for the county, and especially for the Hawks, who sent both their teams to state. It’s the third consecutive state appearance for the Indian Trail boys program and the first for the girls program since 2018.
“I am extremely proud of this group,” Indian Trail coach Brian Vanderhoef said. “There was so much unknown this season. But they were patient and coachable, worked hard for each other, and now they get the opportunity to see all their hard work pay off.”
In the girls field, Indian Trail was edged out only by Tremper, which ran a splendid race to win the sectional and qualify for state for the first time since 2011.
“All season long, Indian Trail had been beating us by a few points, but our finish times kept improving,” Tremper coach Chuck Bradley said. “(Saturday) we felt it was our turn to win. We had a great week of practice, our spirits were high and we were ready.
“I told the girls before the race began that even though they couldn’t control what the competition was doing, they could control how they would respond. It was a great team effort with all the girls recording their fastest times of the season.”
The Division-1 State Meet will include 12 teams per field, eight less than the usual 20, to minimize the crowd of runners competing. Runners will go off in six sessions Saturday, three boys sessions and three girls sessions, between 9:30 a.m. and 4:10 p.m.
The Indian Trail boys will run at 10:10 a.m., while the Indian Trail girls and the Tremper girls will run at 9:30 a.m. West and Allen, meanwhile, will be in the 10:10 a.m. session, and Blount will be in the 9:30 a.m. session.
Leading the Indian Trail boys is junior Keegan Meier, who placed third at sectionals with a time of 16:40.8. Also scoring for the Hawks were junior Chad Helmke (11th, 17:21.3), junior Nick Klinkhammer (17th, 17:49.2), junior Nick Fonk (22nd, 18:01.3) and senior Logan Schulz (25th, 18:18.3).
Junior Gabe Islas and freshman Connor Gilbert were the sixth and seventh runners, respectively, for the Hawks at sectionals and will also represent the team at state.
West, meanwhile, finished one-hundredth of a second out of an individual qualifying spot for sectionals at last week’s subsectional, but he made the field when one of the qualifiers dropped out, and West took advantage of his opportunity.
“Boy, did he respond,” Bradley said. “Once the starting gun went off, there was no holding him back. He was not going to be denied from earning a State Meet spot.”
Just missing out on joining the county contingent at state was Tremper senior Nathaniel Jackson, who placed 13th overall and sixth in the individual standings with a time of 17:30.7 to miss out by one spot on qualifying for state for a second time.
Tremper senior Jayden Ingram led the Trojans in the girls field, placing eighth in 20:24.1. Also scoring for the Trojans were freshman Tess Callahan (10th, 20:25.2), junior Faith Marschel (17th, 20:57.9), senior Jamie Pena (20th, 21:30.7) and senior Sofia Ricker (23rd, 21:50).
Sophomore Jenna Puhr and senior Emma Pearl also ran for the Trojans.
Scoring for Indian Trail, meanwhile, were freshman Kate Hermann (12th, 20:42.7), senior Addie Monk (13th, 20:51.8), sophomore Alissa Taylor (14th, 20:52.6), junior Payton Scoggin (21st, 21:39.5) and freshman Riya Patel (24th, 21:54.9).
Freshman Grace Kozel and junior Elliana Knudsen also ran for the Hawks.
Central junior Ariana Eiler barely missed joining Blount as an individual qualifier, finishing seventh overall and sixth in the individual standings, one spot out of qualifying, with a time of 20:24.
Oak Creek junior Isabella Ross won the girls race by nearly a full minute in 18:53.2.