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Wildcat girls all smiles

Members of the Wildcat girls' cross country team show off their first place trophy after winning the Smiley Invitational Saturday in Wausau. Pictured are, in front, Aislinn Pomfret and Hanna Gribble. In back from left, Paige Skorseth, Katie Berndt, Lucy Ramquist, Monica Morgan, Emily Gregg and Natalie Powell. Submitted photo

It's not often a team from the small-school division wins the overall title at a big cross country meet like the Smiley Invitational. But that's exactly what the Wildcat girls did Saturday in Wausau.

The Cats smothered the opposition in the 12-team small school division, finishing with a total of 26 points, far ahead of second place Oregon's 103. But they also scored better than any of the 13 teams in the large school division by scoring a combined 78 points, with eighth-ranked Wausau West coming closest with 110.

Teams were divided into two divisions based on enrollment.

"It was a pretty unbelievable result," River Falls head coach Pat Lorentz said. "I don't know if a small school has ever knocked off all the large schools. It if has happened in the past, it certainly hasn't happened too often."

The ninth-ranked team in the state -- La Crosse Central -- finished third in the overall standings with 140 points.

"If the women's team was flying under the radar before, well, let's just say after this -- it's spot on," Lorentz said.

Freshman Paige Skorseth and junior Lucy Ramquist finished side-by-side with identical times of 15 minutes, 31 seconds, tying them for the seventh fastest time in Wildcat history. Skorseth was awarded sixth place in the race while Ramquist claimed seventh.

"I believe we have one of the better one-two punches in the state right now," Lorentz said about the pair.

Sophomore Natalie Powell finished 16th overall in 16:02, sophomore Aislinn Pomfret was 17th in 16:06, and senior captain Monica Morgan placed 32nd in 16:24 to round out the Wildcat scorers.

"Friday night we talked about the importance of keeping our three through five runners close to our top two runners," Lorentz noted. "Powell, Pomfret and Morgan ran exceptional for us. They kept our one to five spread under a minute, and when you have front runners like Skorseth and Ramquist, that is really hard to do."

The Wildcat boys finished third in the small-school division with 104 points. Pulaski took first with 31 followed by Lakeland with 95.

Sophomore Shae Taylor finished 10th in the small-school race with a time of 17:49 while senior David Ritter finished 16th in 18:09. Senior captain Casey Schellhorn was 23rd in 18:28, sophomore Salvador Bastien placed 25th in 18:29, and senior Patrick Keicher was 30th in 18:46.

"I think our guys ran pretty good today," Lorentz said. We took the first mile pretty conservative, perhaps a bit too conservative. But it's hard to know exactly how hard to take it out in a big race like this."

The Cats will cross the border to compete in the largest high school cross country meet in the country Saturday at the Roy Griak Invitational at the University of Minnesota.

"This is the granddaddy of meets," Lorentz said. "There will be no shortage of competition for us, that's for sure."