Peterson, Anders, qualify from Tri-County to state cross country

By Sean Scallon

Considering what these high school student-athletes have been through this year, a snowstorm was par for the course.

And nothing to phase them.

The WIAA divided its traditional cross country sectional meet into several sub-sectionals before the main sectional meet to lessen the number of teams and fans present due to the COVID-19 pandemic. And even at the sub-sectional, two races of six teams each, boys and girls, were run on the 5000-meter courses.

And all that was before a snowstorm struck Wisconsin last week Tuesday, Oct. 20 with the heaviest snow coming down during the races themselves that afternoon. In this area, four Tri-County teams had to make their way through the cold and snowy conditions which covered the Osseo Golf Course in the Division 3 sub-sectional meet hosted by Osseo-Fairchild.

"They're all tough kids," Fall Creek head coach Jami Mapson said. "Some of them really enjoyed running those conditions and did so without long-sleeve shirts or cold-weather gear. It was tough to run through and the times were off but the fact they got to run at all this season with the pandemic going on allowed them to put the weather aside and focus on running."

The weather was fair albeit cold for Saturday, Oct. 24's sectional meet in Durand at Rolling Greens Golf Course. When they were all completed, the Tri-County area will send two runners to Saturday's state meet in Division 3 at West Salem: Augusta junior Bailey Peterson and Fall Creek sophomore Jenna Anders.

Both finished in the top five of the girls' sectional race automatically qualifying them. Anders took fourth in 20:07 and Peterson placed fifth in 20:09. Winning the race was Colfax's Molly Heindorn in 19:57 followed by Glenwood City's Bella Simmons at 19:58 and in third Reese Ehrat of Cochrane-Fountain City at 20:04. Glenwood City won the team title with Durand and second and both teams qualified for the state meet as well with Colfax third and C-FC in fourth place. One additional qualifier for the state meet, not on a qualifying team was Mondovi's Courtney Stadter who placed seventh in 20:37.

The top five runners in the girls' race pretty much led the race from start to finish and staying with lead was a big challenge.

"It was a fast pace and it was tough to keep up," Peterson said. "It was a mental game as much as physical and you stay mentally tough to keep up."

And Peterson stayed mentally tough to qualify for state to the excitement of her head coach Zach Lee.

"She stayed with that group and it was to fun to watch her run so strong today," Lee said. "This is a tough course and she faced good competition in both meets and she's made which was our goal from the start of the season."

Since she was in middle school Anders said she's dreamed of making four straight state meets. She's halfway home to her goal.

"The course was tough and it was hard to keep up," Anders said. "I knew that was the group to keep up with to advance and I had to run hard."

Also running in the girls' race in the sectional meet was Osseo-Fairchild sophomore Aurora Wier. She finished 17th in 22:23. She finished ninth at sub-sectionals running through the snow on her home course with a time of 22:29 which allowed her to move up as a qualifying runner not on a qualifying team along with Peterson, second in 20:41 and Anders who finished third in 21:22. Ehrat won the meet in a time of 20:20. The team scores for girls were Durand 44, C-FC 52, Fall Creek 79, Eau Claire Regis 124, Augusta 125, Blair-Taylor 151, Osseo-Fairchild 168, Alma Center Lincoln 178, Independence/Gilmanton 212 with Mondovi, Whitehall, and Eleva-Strum all incomplete.

Other Tri-County girls runners and their times in the sub-sectional meet were as follows: for Fall Creek - junior Katie Kent 11th in 22:35; junior Alison Dubiel, 15th in 22:51; junior Kassie Andreas, 22nd in 24:04; freshman Evelyn Bergeron, 28th in 25:11 and freshman Sophia Schultz, 37th in 25:52. For Augusta - sophomore Ava Peterson 24th in 24:23; sophomore Beth Boone, 24:55; sophomore Kendra Olson 34th in 25:40;
freshman Cecelia Hanson, 40th in 26:04. For Osseo-Fairchild - junior Shelby Johnson, 34th in 25:38; sophomore Kadance Wampole, 41st in 26:45; senior Alyssa Iverson, 42nd in 27:01; sophomore Ada Nelson, 44th in 27:13; junior Rylee Bratina 49th in 27:46 and sophomore Aubrey Schmidt, 50th in 27:52. For Eleva-Strum - freshman Anabel Howie finished 41st in 25:55 and junior Emily Gehrke was 62nd in 32:26.

Boys' runners from the Tri-County are competing in the sectional meet were Augusta's Kyle Shult and Fall Creek's Kael Sanfelippo. Shult, a junior, had a strong run to finish ninth in 18:08 as did Sanfelippo, also a junior, who placed 21st in 19:21. Top three runner in the sectional meet were the individual champion Parker Schneider of Durand in a time of 16:38 followed by Adam Loesner of Clear Lake in 16:58 and Wes Pronschinske of Cochrane-Fountain City in 17:00. Chippewa Falls McDonell won the meet with a score of 38 followed by Spring Valley 44, C-FC 60 and Whitehall 90. Additional state qualifiers included Glenwood City's J.J. Williams, fifth in 17:20 and John Pearson of Clear Lake, seventh in 17;20.

At the sub-sectional meet, Shult finished fifth in 18:45 and Sanfelippo placed seventh in 19:23. The team scores were as follows: C-FC 28, Whitehall 59, Blair-Taylor 96, Augusta 103, Osseo-Fairchild 123, Eleva-Strum 132, Alma Center Lincoln 135 with Fall Creek, Mondovi, Durand, Independence/Gilmanton and Eau Claire Regis all incomplete.

Other Tri-County boys' runners and their times and places are as follows: For Augusta - 9). Devin Molinaro, sophomore, 20:53; 12). Drew Jacobs, sophomore, 21:29; 38). Gavin Wiese, sophomore, 26:09; 40). Matt Cork, sophomore, 27:42; For Osseo-Fairchild - 8). Kyle Burmesch, sophomore, 20:45; 21). Bryce Armstrong-Baglien, sophomore, 23:14; 29). John Landrum, sophomore, 24:21; 32). Mason Scheffer, sophomore, 25:02; 33). Braeden Metzler, sophomore, 25:13.2; For Eleva-Strum - 19). Zach Seguin , sophomore, 23:01; 22). Garrett Zimpel, junior, 23:20; 24). Charlie Dyar, junior, 23:36; 31). Jared Bohn, freshman, 24:59;
36). Brecken Young, sophomore, 25:46; 39). James Anderson, freshman, 26:58; For Fall Creek - 11). Stewart Gundry - sophomore, 19:55; 18). Mason Antczak, freshman, 21:05.

Osseo-Fairchild head coach Janet Wood credited and thanked all the volunteers and race officials for helping to pull off the sub-sectional meet despite the heavy snowfall.

"It was a really rough day for everyone and times were off and equipment was covered in wet, heavy snow," Wood said. "Yet we were successful in getting it done, running four full races and that's a credit to the kids and all the volunteers and officials and fans who stuck it out and I can't thank them enough for their efforts. At the very least they have stories to tell their grandchildren about this day and event."

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