Cross Country at the WIAA Division 2 State Championships
The University School boys’ cross country team and Mya Hartjes competed in the WIAA Division 2 State Tournament meet on Saturday, October 31st at Colby High School. The USM boys’ team took 9th place in the boys’ meet. Running as an individual, Mya Hartjes took 8th place in the girls’ meet.
Eric Pilling, USM’s head coach, described the event, “The course was very soft due to the melted snow from earlier in the week and the thousands of footsteps from races earlier in the day. The wind also posed some challenges with gusts of 30 miles per hour.
“The meet was divided into three sessions of four teams plus ten individuals. No results were released before the final races and results were merged into one meet.”
In the boys’ meet, USM’s Drew Stephens and Thomas Stephens earned medals. Drew Finished 3rd and Thomas finished 4th out of 113 runners with respective times on the 5 Kilometer course of 16:35.94 and 16:39.31.
USM’s Ryan Treptow finished in 55th place with a time of 17:52.57. Harrison Hartjes took 97th place with a time of 19:02.52. USM’s fifth runner, Zach Sardas-Trevorrow, finished 112th at 20:36.68. Although he didn't earn team points, Carlos Banda also ran for the Wildcats. He finished in 113th place with a time of 20:52.45.
Pilling commented on the boys’ race, “Our guys expected the race to go out fast, as is often the case at State. This is where experience helps. The leaders went out at 4:12 mile pace, which proved costly. Drew and Thomas were more strategic, with Drew settling into the top five, and Thomas in the top ten. By the mile, Drew was stalking the early leaders, and Thomas had moved up. Around two miles, Drew took control of the race and imposed his will. Thomas moved into fourth. Over the final kilometer, Drew maintained his lead, and Thomas pushed into second. With one final challenge from Kettle Moraine Lutheran’s top runner, Drew kicked home first and Thomas second (in the session). Their times of 16:35 and 16:39 earned them third and fourth overall in the field of 113 runners.
“But the race wasn’t done there,” Pilling continued. “The team war was still being waged, and Ryan ran the finest race of his life to earn 30 team points. Harrison, Zach, and Carlos all utilized their usual conservative start. Harrison moved up especially well to earn 67 team points. In his first year on the team, Zach earned valuable state experience. Carlos closed out his cross-country career as a key runner on our state team.
“The ninth-place finish in the field of twelve qualifying teams was a very good result. Most pundits picked us tenth to twelfth at best. We were very pleased to exceed those predictions and have 2 all-state performances.”
Mya Hartjes was USM’s only runner in the girls’ race. She took 8th place with a time of 19:26.64.
Pilling said, “Mya displayed true grit. We knew it wouldn’t be smart to follow the top Two Rivers runners as they went out at 5:16 pace. Mya strategically held back just a little and tucked in behind runners from Kewaskum and Greendale Martin Luther. This way she didn’t have to fight the wind all alone. About mid-race, she took over the third position and while the Kewaskum runner dropped, the Martin Luther runner hung tough. Mya just willed herself through the final kilometer finishing third (in the session), two seconds ahead of her rival. Her time of 19:26 was a season-best and earned her an excellent eighth place overall. Her time was especially impressive given the conditions.”
Summing up, Pilling said, “Drew, Thomas, and Mya earned medals and All-State honors awarded to top 10. This was a pretty historic achievement, by far our best finishes since competing in Division 2. The team’s ninth-place finish exceeded expectations and capped off a truly exceptional season.”
The State Tournament ended the season for the University School cross country team.