Both New Richmond cross country teams knew they were in for a battle in hopes of keeping their strings of Middle Border Conference championships alive at the 2015 MBC meet, held last Thursday in New Richmond.
The Tiger boys were able to keep ahold of their conference title, but the New Richmond girls couldn’t catch a strong Prescott team that has been winning meets all season.
This is the fourth straight MBC championship for the Tiger boys. The loss on Thursday ends a string of eight straight titles that the Tigers have owned. They were last beaten in an MBC meet by Osceola in the 2006 season.
No team had what the Tiger boys had: two seniors who have been top finishers all season, in Bailey Wilson and Austin Haseleu. Both have been all-conference runners for all four seasons of their high school career.
Wilson placed third as a freshman in 2012, 11th in 2013, 12th in 2014 and second this year. Haseleu placed 11th in the MBC race his freshman year, third as a sophomore, fifth as a junior and fifth again this year.
Wilson had to turn on the jets in the final stretches of the race to pass Prescott’s Phillip Pena for second place in the meet. Ellsworth’s Sam Bell won the boys meet, finishing 57 seconds ahead of Wilson.
Tiger coach Beth Kelly said Wilson and Haseleu are vastly different styled runners. Wilson has exceptional speed, being one of the top 800 meter runners in the conference in track.
“Austin is a grinder. He gets himself in position somehow. He’s got a huge heart,” Kelly said.
Any worries that the Tigers might see a dropoff after this season were answered by the younger boys in the Tiger lineup. Sophomore Dylan Wachter continued his recent surge, moving up to seventh in the final results. Ryan Kling placed 13th, the highest finish among any freshman in the race. Sophomore Jack Pearson placed 20th as the Tigers’ fifth runner.
Kelly said the boys took great pride in trying to continue the string of championships, but they also had set a goal to improve in each of their individual performances at the race.
The New Richmond girls placed third in the conference race. Prescott won with 57 points, but the Cards faced strong competition in the meet. Ellsworth finished with 66 points and New Richmond had 75 points.
“The girls were heart-sick about it,” Kelly said about the end of the team’s championship run. “But all the credit goes to Prescott. They earned it. We gave it our best shot.”
Sophomore Sophie Auvin continued to prove she’s ready to be the team’s number one runner, placing sixth on Thursday. Juniors Lexi Brown and Mallory Kelly were 11th and 15th, with freshmen Amanda Johnson and Bailey Hubmer placing 21st and 22nd.
There weren’t any senior in the Tigers’ lineup and Coach Kelly said the girls are already planning on working hard so they can retake the championship back next year.
The seniors have played a big part in the success of the program through the leadership they provided.
“There are 12 seniors and every one is a quality kid,” Kelly said.
The Tigers will run Saturday in the Chippewa Falls Division 1 sectional meet, which will be held at Lake Wissota Golf Course. The girls will run at 1 p.m., with the boys race starting at 2 p.m. Other schools competing in the meet include Chippewa Falls, Eau Claire Memorial, Eau Claire North, Hudson, Holmen, La Crosse Central, La Crosse Logan, Menomonie, Onalaska, River Falls and Superior.
Coach Kelly said the Tigers are going with the goal of having every runner complete their best race of the season. Wilson and Haseleu are hoping to put together career-best finishes that would put them among the qualifiers for the WIAA state championships.