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Division 1 sectional a learning experience for Tiger cross country team

The La Crosse Logan Division 1 sectional meet was something of a fact-finding expedition for the New Richmond cross country team.

The Tigers made the step up from Division 2 to Division 1 this year. The Tigers were a perennial threat to reach the State Cross Country Meet in Division 2. They went into Saturday's meet in La Crosse looking to see how far they are from being a state contender in Division 1.

They found out that they aren't that far away. The Tiger girls placed eighth and the Tiger boys placed ninth in Saturday's meet.

"I'm proud of their showing, being the smallest school in the meet," said Tiger coach Beth Kelly.

All the Tigers went into the meet knowing they were long-shots to make it to the state meet as individuals. That didn't stop sophomore Morgan Kelly from trying. Kelly targeted Menomonie's Jordan Kelch, knowing that Kelch would likely advance to state as an individual. For more than half the race Kelly ran stride for stride with Kelch. Kelly faded in the second half of the race, dropping back to 51st. Kelly's judgement was right though, because Kelch finished fourth in the sectional meet and qualified for state.

The top finishers for the Tiger girls were sophomore Kat Keller and freshman Marissa Neitzke. Keller finished 32nd in 16:44. Neitzke was four seconds behind her, running a personal best time to place 33rd.

All seven girls who ran at sectionals for the Tigers were either freshmen or sophomores. Coach Kelly said young runners are often bothered by injuries at some point during a season. She said because these girls were diligent in doing their workouts last summer, their bodies were prepared for the pounding of the season, so few injuries occurred.

Tiger boys

Seniors Nick Stenske and Zeb Johnson led the boys to their ninth place performance in the sectional meet.

Stenske placed 29th in his final race and Johnson placed 43rd.

"The seniors did the best they possibly could that day," Coach Kelly said.

Freshman Alex Charbonneau was tripped during the race, landing directly on his knee. Normally the Tigers' third runner, this dropped Charbonneau back to being the Tigers' sixth runner.

The Tigers were without Tyler Wilson, who was ill. Coach Kelly rewarded Alex Anderson, who had attended every practice the previous week, though he didn't have to, with Wilson's spot in the varsity lineup.

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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