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Cats run wild: Girls win 3rd straight BRC title

Natalie Powell, left, stays close to teammates Lucy Ramquist, center, and Paige Skorseth near the midpoint of the girls' 4,000 meter race at the Big Rivers Conference Championship Meet Saturday at the UW-River Falls intramural fields. Ramquist went on to finish second overall and Skorseth took third while Powell placed eighth to lead the Wildcat girls to their third straight BRC championship. Bob Burrows photo

You couldn't ask for a better day for a race. And the results weren't too shabby either.

The Wildcat girls made school history by winning their third straight conference title while the boys posted their best finish since 2004 at the Big Rivers Conference Championship Meet Saturday at the UW-River Falls intramural fields.

River Falls' girls took six of the top 10 spots to finish with 25 points, far ahead of second place Eau Claire Memorial's score of 77. The Wildcat boys took second with 59 points, behind champion Hudson's score of 33 and in front of third place Eau Claire Memorial's total of 64.

"The men really ran great," Wildcat coach Pat Lorentz said. "It was a close battle for second between us and Memorial, but the men found a way to hold off Memorial in the last half of the race."

The Wildcat girls were led by senior captain Lucy Ramquist, who finished second with a time of 14 minutes, 53.5 seconds on the 4,000 meter course. Ramquist took the final turn side-by-side with Hudson's Katie Wetzstein before Wetzstein pulled away in the final 200 meters to win with a time of 14:49.7.

"It was really cool to see one of our captains lead the way for us," Lorentz said. "For a minute it looked like Ramquist was going to pull out the win, but she came up a bit short. Her time puts her second all-time and just two seconds off the school record."

Five of the next seven runners across the finish line were Wildcats. Sophomore Page Skorseth took third with a time of 15:06.1 and senior Laura Anderson was fifth in 15:19.3. Junior Aislinn Pomfret finished seventh in 15:36.9, junior Natalie Powell placed eighth in 15:40.8, and senior Tia Harris finished ninth in 15:41.7.

Sophomore Ellie Nelson contributed a top-20 finish with a 19th place time of 16:39.4. A total of 53 runners competed in the girls' race.

"The women seem to take it all in stride," Lorentz said about the Wildcats, who are currently ranked third in the state in Division 1. "They are running with great confidence right now, almost effortlessly. We put six girls in the top 10; I think that is pretty unheard of."

In the boys' 5,000 meter race, senior captain Ethan Genco paced the Cats with a fourth place time of 16:42.0.

Christian Phelps of Eau Claire Memorial and Andrew Faris of Chippewa Falls put on a show down the stretch with Phelps edging Faris by one-tenth of a second to take first with a time of 16:27.5. Ryan Kromer of Hudson was third in 16:30.5 followed by Genco in fourth, 3.4 seconds ahead of fifth place Luke Wusterbarth of Hudson.

"Genco had a great race," Lorentz said. "He kept the pressure on Hudson's top three. His time moves him up to sixth fastest in school history."

Junior Shae Taylor also grabbed a top-10 finish, placing eighth in 17:14.7, while freshman Trent Powell finished 12th in 17:33.3, sophomore Mitch Lenneman was 16th in 17:44.9, and freshman Tom Ramquist 19th in 17:49.5.

Junior Salvador Bastien added a 25th place time of 18:13.9 and senior Garrett Williams was 41st in 19:13.7. A total of 51 runners competed.

The Wildcat boys' second place finish ties for their best finish ever at the conference meet.

Genco, Lucy Ramquist, Skorseth, Anderson and Pomfret all earned first team All-BRC honors for finishing in the top seven of their respective races while Taylor, Trent Powell, Natalie Powell and Harris made second team. Lenneman, Tom Ramquist and Nelson each received honorable mention.

"It was a great day for a meet," Lorentz said. "It really showcased what the athletes, coaching staff, high school and university have to offer. I think we put together a first-class meet."

Next up is the WIAA Division 1 Sectional Meet in Tomah this Saturday. The top two teams, and the top five individuals who are not members of qualifying teams, will race at the WIAA State Championships Saturday, Oct. 30, at Ridges Golf Course in Wisconsin Rapids.

Bob Burrows
Bob Burrows has been sports editor at the River Falls Journal since 1996 and at the Hudson Star-Observer since 2009. Prior to joining the Journal, Burrows served as sports editor with Ledger Publications in Balsam Lake, Wis. A native of Bayonne, N.J. and a U.S. Navy veteran, Burrows attended Marquette University before completing his studies at UW-River Falls in 1992.
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