Cats crack top ten
For Wildcat cross country coach Pat Lorentz, the hardest part of Saturday's WIAA State Cross Country Championships came at the end.
"About the only thing I dislike about coaching is saying goodbye to seniors," he said. "You know, we are a small group, and we spend a lot of time together so naturally we are close. The girls gave Monica Morgan, our only senior on varsity this year, a big hug after the race Saturday. I had to walk away."
Lorentz and the team had plenty of reasons to be emotional. Besides watching Morgan compete in the last cross country race of her high school career, they could celebrate a 10th place finish in the 20-team Division 1 race. Ironically, the team that won state -- Wausau East -- lost to the Cats earlier this season at the Smiley Invite in Wausau.
"We didn't have our best day as a team, but we didn't have a bad day either," Lorentz said about the team. "The margin for error at this meet is so small it's incredible. Fifteen seconds can be about 50 points per athlete; it's just that tight. Being the 10th best Division 1 team in the state is nothing to hang your head about."
Wausau East won the title with 75 points followed by Whitefish Bay with 142 and Neenah with 177. The Wildcats placed 10th with 252 while fellow Big Rivers Conference representative Eau Claire Memorial finished 17th with 351.
Gabby Levac of Arrowhead took the individual title with a time of 14 minutes, 36 seconds.
Freshman Paige Skorseth led the Wildcats by finishing 15th overall with a time of 15:12, the fastest time for a freshman in any of the three division races at the state meet.
"Paige ran a great race," Lorentz said. "She stayed just off the lead pack through the mile and made some nice moves at the end of the race.
"She has been a great addition to an already strong women's team," he added. "The state of Wisconsin is known for producing great distance runners, so for Paige to be the fastest freshman in the state says a lot about her athletic ability. I don't think many freshmen could walk onto a varsity team and lead it with the composure and grace that she displayed this season."
Junior Lucy Ramquist was the second Wildcat across the finish line Saturday in 32nd place with a time of 15:35.
"Lucy is a tremendous competitor," Lorentz said. "She is a really tough kid. I am very grateful that she decided to run cross country this year."
Sophomore Aislinn Pomfret finished 97th in 16:10 and junior Laura Anderson finished 120th with a time of 16:25.
"If you ask Laura she will tell you that it wasn't a good season for her," he said about Anderson. "But given she had mono in late spring, I couldn't have asked for anything more. I was really impressed with the way she was able to run this year and the way she led the girls off the course."
Sophomore Natalie Powell finished just behind Anderson in 122nd place with a time of 16:26 while Morgan finished 143rd in her last race with a time of 16:39. Sophomore Hanna Gribble placed 165th in 16:56.
"Aislinn Pomfret, Natalie Powell and Hanna Gribble are three really good runners to get in one grade," Lorentz said about the sophomores. "The three of them give us depth that most teams can only dream of."
Lorentz said he's already optimistic about next season.
"We have the fastest freshman in the state, we aren't losing anyone in our top five, and everyone will have had experience running at the state meet," he said. "I'd say things are looking pretty good next year."
Still, he said it's tough to say goodbye to Morgan, a varsity captain and only senior.
"We will miss her greatly next season," he said.