Rogers to run at stateSenior captain Colin Rogers qualified for his first WIAA State Cross Country Championship by finishing fifth at the La Crosse sectional Saturday in La Crosse.
By: Bob Burrows, River Falls Journal
Senior captain Colin Rogers qualified for his first WIAA State Cross Country Championship by finishing fifth at the La Crosse sectional Saturday in La Crosse.
Rogers will be the lone Wildcat competing at the state meet this Saturday in Wisconsin Rapids. The Wildcat girls came up just short in their bid to qualify as a team by finishing third at the 12-team sectional. The top two teams — Onalaska and La Crosse Central — advanced.
Rogers punched his ticket to state as an individual with a fifth place time of 16 minutes, 41.8 seconds at the La Crosse sectional. The top five individuals who are not members of qualifying teams earned berths at the state meet. Rogers’ time was the third fastest in that category.
“All season I have held very high expectations for Colin and he has delivered throughout,” Wildcat head coach Pat Lorentz said. “I have watched him really develop as an athlete, and as a student of the sport of distance running. I am very happy with his accomplishment.”
The Wildcat girls, meanwhile, missed qualifying for the state meet as a team by a mere 20 seconds. And the team’s top two finishers — sophomore Laura Anderson and freshman Aislinn Pomfret — came within five seconds of qualifying as individuals.
Onalaska won the sectional title with 39 points and La Crosse Central qualified with a second place total of 81. The Cats finished third with 97 followed by Holmen with 112, Eau Claire Memorial with 146 and Hudson with 163.
Just one week earlier, the Wildcat girls edged Hudson by one point to win the Big Rivers Conference championship.
“The girls ran amazing as a team, with many of them running lifetime personal bests,” Lorentz said. “I know the girls are disappointed with just missing advancing to the state meet, but I am extremely proud of each of them.”
Anderson was the first Wildcat girl across the finish line with a 14th place time of 15:55.7 while Pomfret was right behind in 15th place in 15:56.9. The fifth and final individual state qualifier finished 12th in 15:51.
Freshman Natalie Powell was third for the Cats in 16:04, 19th overall, and junior Monica Morgan placed 21st in 16:06 while senior Ashley Brown finished 28th in 16:15.6.
Other Wildcat finishers included freshman Hanna Gribble in 30th place in 16:15.7 and junior Morgan VanHeukelom in 40th place in 16:34.6.
Lorentz said the girls team exceeded expectations this year after losing four seniors to graduation.
“Yet somehow, these girls won three invites and a conference championship,” he said. “We will certainly miss the leadership on and off the race course from our senior captain Ashley Brown next year.
“I hope to coach at River Falls for many years, and no matter what happens from here, this group of girls will always be very special to me.”
In the boys race, La Crosse Logan won the sectional title with 57 points and La Crosse Memorial also advanced to state with a second place total of 77. River Falls took seventh with 156, two points behind Onalaska.
Lorentz said Rogers did exactly what he needed to do to get to state.
“Colin ran a very smart race,” the coach said. “He got out with the lead pack and sat on the back of it for the majority of the race.”
Sophomore Ethan Genco was the second Wildcat across the finish line, and 28th overall, with a time of 17:51.6. Junior David Ritter placed 37th in 18:03.3, freshman Steffen Nielsen finished 39th in 18:07.1 and junior Casey Schellhorn took 47th in 18:16.6.
Other Wildcat finishers were sophomore Garrett Williams in 53rd place in 18:21.6 and freshman Shae Taylor in 54th in 18:23.9.
“Ritter led our lead pack through the first two miles and really helped establish our position in the middle of the field,” Lorentz said. “In general I thought our guys ran really well. I was especially impressed with how Williams ran. He cut almost a minute off his best 5K time ever, which was great to see since he was one of the guys who put in a lot of miles this summer.
“It’s a great group of guys,” he added. “They work really hard in practice and race with a lot of guts. It’s been a real treat to work with them this year.”
According to Lorentz, 11 of the 14 Wildcats who ran Saturday set lifetime personal best times.
“They make my job as coach very easy,” he said.