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A sterling seventh for Central at state

In a season where the St. Croix Central boys cross country team took all the right steps, their first steps at the WIAA State Cross Country Championships were also a success.

The Panthers tied for seventh place among 16 teams in the 2008 Division 2 state championship race, held at The Ridges Golf Course in Wisconsin Rapids on Saturday.

That the Panthers ran well at state should be as much of a surprise as a morning sunrise. For as successful as the teams have been this season, they have also been that reliable in their success.

The Panthers were led at state by senior Steve Zerwas, the only Panther with state experience. Last year Zerwas became the first Panther boy to ever run in the state meet. Panther coach Bill Emery said Zerwas' state experience was quite beneficial.

"The way he was talking helped a lot of the runners," Emery said.

Zerwas told his teammates to save something for the second half of the race because the back half of the course is hilly and physically challenging. By running with that plan, Zerwas was able to pass numerous runners late in the race to place 45th.

Among those he passed was teammate Brett Johnson. The sophomore couldn't hold himself back in the first half of the race and was among the top 10 runners for much of the first mile of the race. The aggressive start got the better of him and he faded back to 54th.

Emery said that every one of the Panthers who ran in the meet had better times than those they posted in the Dunn-St. Croix Conference Meet. In several instances, the improvement in time was by nearly a minute.

Emery said freshman Stephen Brunshidle and junior David Butler handled the pressure of the state meet well.

Some of the coach's strongest praise was for senior captain Derrek Pedersen.

"Our captain did his duties very well," Emery said. "I couldn't have asked for a better captain."

There were more than 25 members of the Panther teams at the state meet to support the boys team. Emery said he wanted to have all the team members attend the state meet, to give them an idea of what to expect if they get to run at state in the future.

2008 WIAA Division 2 Boys State Cross Country Championships

Team Scores: Tomahawk 78, Catholic Memorial 88, Port Washington 89, Monroe 146, Shorewood 168, Peshtigo 192, Little Chute 216, St. Croix Central 216, Appleton Xavier 232, Ripon 233, Nekoosa-Port Edwards 237, Platteville 260, Lakeside Lutheran 275, Rice Lake 355, West Salem 358, Portage 393

St. Croix Central finishes

45. Steve Zerwas 17:08; 54. Brett Johnson 17:18; 78. Derrek Pedersen 17:38; 95. Stephen Brunshidle 17:53; 111. Ryan Hansen 18:07; 137. David Butler 18:49; 146. Logan Snyder 19:11

New Richmond finishes

38. Jake Wickham 17:01; 69. Nick Stenske 17:28

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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