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Runners make history

Submitted photo

The Wildcat girls' cross country team added to its dynasty Saturday afternoon, while the boys took a step towards starting one of its own.

The Wildcat girls won their fourth straight Big Rivers Conference championship while the boys won their first at the BRC Meet in Chippewa Falls. It's just the third time in River Falls High School history a two-gender sport has won BRC titles in the same season, joining the 1999 track and field teams and the 2000 golf teams.

Seniors Natalie Powell, Aislinn Pomfret and Hannah Gribble have been members of all four Wildcat girls' conference championship teams. Only Eau Claire Memorial has won four or more straight girls' titles.

Powell finished fourth Saturday in 15 minutes, 39.7 seconds, and Pomfret was fifth in 15:51.4 to give the Cats four of the top five times. Gribble finished 16th in 16:27.3.

"I was very impressed with Hanna Gribble's race," Wildcat coach Pat Lorentz said. "She has been struggling to beat her lifetime personal record from her freshman year the past few seasons, but today she blew it away. It is just what you want to see from a senior girl.

"It has been an amazing four years for Natalie Powell and Aislinn Pomfret," Lorentz added. "They have been in the top five for us at every BRC meet all four years of their high school career. That is a pretty unbelievable statistic."

Junior Paige Skorseth led the Wildcats with a second place time of 15:02.2, while freshman Annie Frisbie placed third in 15:38.6.

"Paige looked awesome today," Lorentz said. "It is good to see her back to her old form."

The Cats finished with 27 points to capture the girls' title, 20 full points ahead of second place Hudson. Hudson's Katie Wetzstein won the girls' individual title with a time of 14:45.2.

Skorseth, Frisbie, Powell and Pomfret earned All-BRC first team honors while Ali Casey, who finished 13th in 16:07.5, earned a spot on the second team and Gribble was honorable mention.

In the boys' race, Trent Powell was the Cats' highest finisher with a third place time of 16:49.9 while Mitch Lenneman placed fourth in 17:06.2. Shae Taylor added a sixth place time of 17:14.8 and Tom Ramquist was 10th in 17:34.9 while Salvador Bastien finished 16th in 17:44.9.

The Wildcat boys won the title with a score of 39 while Eau Claire Memorial was second with 54.

It's the first conference title for the River Falls boys in 22 years as members of the BRC. The last cross country title for the Wildcats came in 1983 as members of the Middle Border Conference.

"I couldn't be happier for the men's team," Lorentz said. "This one was a long time coming. We have had some great men's teams in the past, but the title has eluded us."

Powell, Lenneman and Taylor were named to the All-BRC first team while Ramquist earned a spot on the second team and Bastien was honorable mention.

"I was really pleased with the way Salvador Bastien ran today," Lorentz said. "He was definitely not feeling good today and has been battling a foot injury, but he sucked it up and ran the best he could to keep us in it. It was a true senior captain effort on his part.

"Powell, Lenneman, and Taylor played a huge part in the title as they all finished before Eau Claire Memorial's number two runner."

Next up for the Wildcats is the WIAA sectional meet this Saturday in Tomah.

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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