WISCONSIN RAPIDS — Stanley-Boyd senior Kayla Milas ran in her third WIAA state cross country meet on Saturday. Cornell/Lake Holcombe freshman Lexi Moussette ran in her first.
But despite that age and experience difference, both admitted to being nervous before their Division 3 girls race started on Saturday afternoon.
Who could blame them?
The state cross country meet at The Ridges Golf Course in Wisconsin Rapids is the biggest stage any Wisconsin high school cross country runner can compete on.
And it’s enough to make your stomach turn in knots. Doesn’t matter if you’re an established veteran like Milas or a wide-eyed freshman like Moussette.
Or if you’re a coach with past state running experience.
“I had butterflies,” Lake Holcombe/Cornell coach Jake Ebner said.
Ebner was a three-time state qualifier during his high school career at Cameron.
And he’s not alone.
Stanley-Boyd coach Travis Logslett won a Division 3 individual state title for Colfax in 1997.
But all the experience in the world can’t fully prepare a runner for the competition.
Or the butterflies.
“I had a little bit of an idea about what to expect, but having been away for about ten years there’s little changes,” Ebner said. “I tried to prepare her (Moussette) the best I can.”
Lake Holcombe/Cornell co-ops show first season successes
The Lake Holcombe/Cornell co-ops for track and cross country certainly have gotten off on the right foot.
Last spring the Lake Holcombe/Cornell boys track and field team won a conference and regional title in its first year together and had an athlete advance to the state when Tyler Mataczynski made it to La Crosse in the 300-meter hurdles.
This fall, the first-year co-op for cross country finished had great success on the girls side, highlighted by Moussette qualifying for state and a fifth place team finish at last weekend’s Division 3 sectionals at Fall Creek.
Moussette is one of four freshman that has scored well on the team. Combine that with sophomore Danielle Gygi and a strong middle school program and Ebner has reason to be excited for the future.
“This is a nice stepping stone that we were able to get here (to state) for future years,” Ebner said.
Ebner said that young talent on the girls cross country team could also make an impact in the spring for the track team, perhaps picking up where the boys team left off last year.
Cornell has had cross country for seven years, while Lake Holcombe is in its fourth year of offering the sport. Moussette is the first runner from either school to make it to the state meet.
Words of wisdom from the state cross country meet
- “First place, fourth place, 16th place. This is the place you want to end (in Wisconsin Rapids),” McDonell coach Marty Bushland said of his team and of just advancing to the meet in general. “If you can finish at the state meet and know that you did your best, tried your best and gave yourself a chance, you can’t ask for anything more than that.”
- “Have a set goal in mind and trust it and go for it,” Bloomer junior Clint Heinze said for any aspiring runners looking to make it to the state meet.
Other overall winners
Hudson’s Ryan Kromer won the Division 1 boys individual title with a time of 15:27.17, Madison West won the team title with a score of 80, 28 points better than Madison La Follette.
On the Division 1 girls side, Baraboo’s McKaela Christenson narrowly won the girls Division 1 individual title, beating Eau Claire Memorial’s Aubrey Roberts by under four seconds. Arrowhead won the team title with 41 points, 39 ahead of Neenah for the top spot.
In the Division 2 girls race, McFarland’s Jamie Shannon won the individual title with a time of 14:38.94. Dodgeville/Mineral Point grabbed the team championship with 84 points, 14 ahead of Notre Dame de la Baie Academy.