Area D3 cross country teams look to finish season strong
By Paul Lecker
All of the hard work put in by cross country runners since August will be tested in the coming weeks as the postseason unfolds.
Conference meets are scheduled for this week with sectionals on Oct. 24 and 25, and the 2014 WIAA State Cross Country Championships are set for Nov. 1 at Ridges Golf Course in Wisconsin Rapids.
Auburndale and Stratford ran in the Marawood Conference Meet on Thursday (see hubcitytimes.com for results), while Columbus Catholic and Spencer will compete at the Cloverbelt Conference Meet on Friday at Eau Claire Regis.
The Columbus Catholic boys team is coming off perhaps its best performance of the season after winning the Auburndale Invitational title on Oct. 7.
Senior Ben Behling finished second (17:44), Leonard Steinert was seventh, and Jeremy Binder took 11th to lead the Dons against a field that included many of the same teams they will see at the WIAA Division 3 sectional at Athens on Oct. 24.
Among those teams that will be at the sectional are Stratford, Spencer, and Auburndale. The four local teams got a good look at much of their postseason competition on a more even playing field at the Auburndale Invitational —without the larger Division 1 and 2 schools they see at many of the events throughout the season.
Stratford had three runners—Cade Lehman, John Geissinger and Lucas Heidmann—finish in the top 13 at the Auburndale Invitational as the team finished third.
Spencer’s top runner all season has been senior Donovan Fox. Fox finished sixth at the Auburndale Invitational, seventh at the Stratford Invite, and in the top 30 at the much larger Colby and Marshfield races.
On the girls side, Stratford has been strong all season and looks to make a big splash at the sectional next week.
The top two teams and top five individual finishers not on those qualifying teams will make it to the WIAA State Meet.
Junior Johnelle Miner and freshman Kaylee Hollatz have led the way for Stratford this season. Miner took second at Auburndale and at Stratford’s home meet on Sept. 15, was third at Athens, fourth at Colby, and 14th in the Division 2-3 pool at the Smiley Invite in Wausau last month.
Hollatz recently took third at Auburndale and was fourth at both the Athens and Stratford meets.
The Spencer, Columbus Catholic, and Auburndale girls have struggled in the team standings throughout the season, but all three teams have promising young and veteran runners.
Auburndale is led by freshman Kali Karl and senior Abby Bauer. Each had numerous top-15 finishes this fall.
Columbus Catholic senior Rachel Roehl has been the Dons’ best runner for much of the season, but lately freshmen Marissa Immerfall and Morgan Albrecht have stepped up, finishing 17th and 18th, respectively, at Auburndale.
Spencer’s top runners are seniors Sam Fuehrer and Paige Lawrence.
(Hub City Times Sports Reporter Paul Lecker is also the publisher of MarshfieldAreaSports.com).