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Runners shine at Smiley Invite

Keep the momentum going.

That's what River Falls cross country coach Kari DeLuca keeps telling her runners. And they took that to heart Saturday, Sept. 16, at the 60th annual Smiley Invitational at the American Legion Golf Course in Wausau.

The Wildcats posted a number of personal best times as the boys finished third in the 13-team Division 1 Small Division while the girls finished fourth.

"We made some big gains this weekend in terms of racing to our fullest potential," DeLuca said. "We had quite a few kids medal and many, many personal best times. The kids are really pumped up for the remainder of the season."

DeLuca said senior Tyler Cernohous "just tore up the course," on his way to a personal best time of 16 minutes, 30.55 seconds to finish fifth in the 92-runner field.

"He showed up to race," she said. "His race was the smartest and toughest I've seen him race in his career."

Sophomore Mason Shea also broke 17 minutes for the first time, placing 14th overall with a time of 16:54.57.

"That's a big drop in time and a strong race for a sophomore," DeLuca noted.

Senior Brayden Richison finished 18th with a time of 17:13.35 and sophomore Richard Veness was 24th in 17:43.84 while sophomore Weston Moon cut over a minute off his previous best with a 30th place time of 18:04.

DeLuca said the boys also saw strong efforts from their newcomers.

"Grant Magnuson, Louis Olson, and Jason Franzwa were all very competitive on the course and cut a lot of time off," she said. "They all have a good looking future in running."

It was a similar story in the girls race, with sophomore Haley Lindaman running her all-time best to finish 19th with a time of 20:50.55 and senior Emma Handlos placing 20th in 20:51.68.

"Hayley is just a great athlete, she always shows up and gives her all," DeLuca said. "And Emma looked so strong this weekend and fought so hard out on the course for her team."

DeLuca said freshman Allison Weissinger "just blew me away with her race," finishing with the Cat's third fastest time and in 24th place overall in 21:01.13.

"She is learning what it means to race and it's really fun to watch," the coach said.

Sophomore Megdaline Weideman finished 30th in 21:22.09 while junior Elsa Putzie rounded out the Cat's top five with a 40th place time of 21:45.4.

"Going into the meet, our race strategy was to test our limits while staying smart at the very start of the race," DeLuca said. "Our athletes did everything we asked, it made for some fun races to watch. Things are starting to click for both teams. They are racing together and having fun along the way."

Marshfield won the boys team title with 66 points while River Falls was third with 91. Pulaski was first on the girls' side with 91 with River Falls finishing fourth with 133.

The Wildcats will run against some of the top teams in the nation at the prestigious Roy Griak Invitational at the University of Minnesota's Les Bolstad Golf Course in St. Paul this Saturday, Sept. 23. Ninety teams from California, Kansas, Iowa, Colorado, Utah, Missouri, Ohio, North Dakota, South Dakota, Minnesota, and Wisconsin will compete in two divisions-- Gold and Maroon. NCAA Division I, II and III races will be held in the morning before the high school races begin at 3:15 p.m.

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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