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Tiger girls repeat as sectional CC champs

The New Richmond girls cross country team poses with the sectional championship plaque won at the Unity Division 2 sectional meet on Friday.

Running as a team has been the motto of the New Richmond cross country teams and that was never more evident than at the 2008 WIAA Division 2 Unity Sectional Meet on Friday.

New Richmond's girls team was able to repeat as sectional champions and the Tiger boys were able to qualify two individuals for state during Friday's sectional meet. The Tiger runners advance to the 2008 WIAA State Cross Country Championships, which will be held at The Ridges Golf Course in Wisconsin Rapids this Saturday.

New Richmond's girls won the sectional championship by scoring 74 points. The Middle Border Conference took both state berths in the girls meet, with Amery finishing in second place at the sectional meet with 99 points.

New Richmond will be represented by Jake Wickham and Nick Stenske in the boys half of the Division 2 state meet.

The sectional meet couldn't have gone any better for the Tiger girls. Senior McKenzie Kelly was among the race leaders again, finishing third overall. Senior Hannah Utzman made a courageous return to the team two weeks after being diagnosed with mononucleosis. While she appeared weakened by the illness, Utzman didn't let it stop her. She still managed to place 13th in the sectional meet.

"Hannah's just tough as nails," said Tiger coach Beth Kelly. "She's never been short on guts."

The Tiger senior leaders were followed closely by a trio of young runners. Freshman Katelyn Walker placed 17th, sophomore Anna Zietlow was 20th and freshman Morgan Kelly was 21st to fill the five scoring positions in the varsity lineup.

That wasn't the end of the Tigers' impressive efforts. Senior Maria Soderquist ran one of the best races of her career, including passing two runners in the home stretch, to place 27th. Freshman Bailey Matthys finished 34th.

One of the impressive things about the performance of the Tigers was their calmness in this pressure-filled situation.

"I'm so impressed with the ninth grade girls," Coach Kelly said. "They have been so steady."

The Tigers go to state with a great deal of experience at that level. McKenzie Kelly and Utzman have run at state multiple times and Soderquist and Zietlow ran at state last year.

Last year at state the Tigers placed 14th. Coach Kelly said the team will be setting its goals higher this year.

"I think they should make the upper half. Making the top five would be a great victory," she said.

Tiger boys

There should be no surprise that Wickham and Stenske qualified for the state meet. Whenever they've run this year, they've been among the leaders. Wickham battled a knee injury a month ago and is now getting back to full strength.

"Jake has continued to get stronger and stronger. Watching him pass (St. Croix Central's) Brett Johnson, he looked like the Jake of old," said Coach Kelly.

And wherever Wickham goes in a race, you can bet that Stenske is close behind. The Tigers were the only team to place two runners among the top five in the boys sectional race.

Senior Andy Steffen placed 33rd for the Tigers in his final race. Coach Kelly said one of the surprises of the meet was sophomore Dylan Novitzke. With the Tigers in need of someone to step up into the varsity five, Novitzke went for it. He moved up to be the Tigers' fourth runner.

"The girls used that for inspiration," Coach Kelly said of Novitzke's effort. "He has learned to race this year."

The Tiger boys finished seventh in the team competition among 16 teams in the sectional race.

2008 Unity Division 2 Cross Country Sectional Meet on Oct. 24

Girls Varsity Team Scores: New Richmond 74, Amery 99, Northwestern 128, Rice Lake 151, Osceola 152, Hayward 155, Somerset 175, Ashland 180, St. Croix Central 206, Baldwin-Woodville 209, Spooner 229, Prescott 339, Barron 364, St. Croix Falls 375, Bloomer 452, Cumberland 470

New Richmond finishes

3. McKenzie Kelly 15:58; 13. Hannah Utzman 16:49; 17. Katelyn Walker 16:57; 20. Anna Zietlow 17:07; 21. Morgan Kelly 17:08; 27. Maria Soderquist 17:20; 34. Bailey Matthys 17:34

Somerset finishes

7. Monica Emerson 16:22; 14. Tia Belter 16:51; 40. Sara Henry 17:50; 56. Stephanie Kelsey 18:30; 58. Megan Mitchell 18:35; 62. Emily Parent 18:48; 67. Kaylee Roettger 18:53

St. Croix Central finishes

11. Michelle Brunshidle 16:43; 39. Anna Langer 17:41; 48. Corynne Nelson 18:11; 49. Martha Landry 18:13; 59. Janel Jacobson 18:38; 72. Abby Delander 19:03; 104. Maddie Skaalrud 22:34

Boys Team Scores: St. Croix Central 78, Rice Lake 87, Northwestern 96, Hayward 120, Osceola 120, Ashland 121, New Richmond 136, Amery 157, Prescott 241, Somerset 328, St. Croix Falls 337, Bloomer 348, Cumberland 370, Baldwin-Woodville 384, Unity 403, Barron 486

St. Croix Central finishes

4. Brett Johnson 17:17; 13. Steve Zerwas 17:55; 16. Derrek Pedersen 18:05; 22. Ryan Hansen 18:17; 23. Stephen Brunshidle 18:17; 51. Logan Snyder 19:23; 53. David Butler 19:28

New Richmond finishes

3. Jake Wickham 17:07; 5. Nick Stenske 17:34; 33. Andy Steffen 18:40; 43. Dylan Novitzke 19:04; 52. Jason Staples 19:27; 54. Zeb Johnson 19:29; 68. Sam Skatrud 19:58

Somerset finishes

31. Michael Meyer 18:35; 50. Caleb Belter 19:20; 70. Dakota Belter 20:01; 82. Gavin Germain 20:37; 95. Tye Lyons 22:13; 96. T.J. Pauley 22:24; 102. Tyler Lindquist 23:48

Dave Newman
Dave Newman has been the sports editor at the New Richmond News since 1988. He has covered the action in the Middle Border Conference, Dunn-St. Croix Conference and Big Rivers Conference for nearly 30 years.
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