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A heart-breaking tie-breaker for St. Croix Central runners

The tie-breaker was a heart breaker.

The St. Croix Central boys cross country team tied Colfax for the best score in the 2013 Dunn-St. Croix Conference cross country championship last Thursday.

Which team won the conference title came down to a tie-breaker. The tie-break criteria used was which team’s sixth runner crossed the finish line first. Colfax’s sixth runner finished ahead of Central’s fifth and sixth runners, giving Colfax the meet championship.

Central coach Bill Emery was torn over the team’s misfortune after the Panthers went into the meet thinking they were favorites to win the title. It was Emery who had to deliver the news to his boys that they had been edged out of the title they hoped to wrestle away from Colfax.

“It was pretty emotional. The boys were upset,” Emery said.

Emery said the Panthers didn’t run as well as they’d hoped. He tried to buoy their emotions by recognizing how far the boys team had come in a  year.

“Last year we finished fourth, almost fifth. Last year we were a blah team,” Emery said. “This year we tied for the championship. Why are where we’re at? Because of all the work they put in over the summer.”

The Panthers were led by junior Jordan Bringgold who placed second in the boys race. Freshman Michael Sauers and sophomore Nathan Madlung ran together, placing 11th and 12th. Sauers was coming back from an injury and he paced himself off Madlung.

Sophomore Michael Hanson continued his recent progress to be the Panthers’ fourth runner, placing 19th. Senior Logan Nelson, who battled leg cramps during the race, placed 23rd as the Panthers’ fifth runner.

The depth in the Panther boys squad showed with the Panthers winning the D-SC junior varsity title.

Central’s girls placed fourth in their half of the meet. Emery said the top three Panthers all ran particularly well in the meet. Senior Courtney Kramer was the Panthers’ top finisher, placing 10th. Courtney Carlson continued to be one of the top young runners in the conference, placing 15th. Emery said senior Hope Hoolihan ran her best race of the season to place 26th.

Freshman Heidi Hoolihan and junior Lauren Moll rounded out Central’s top five, finishing together in 29th and 30th.

Central performed well in the conference middle school races, taking first in the boys race and second in the girls race. Central had the top three finishers in the middle school boys race in Will Spitzmueller, Scott Mosel and DJ Busch. Central’s Olivia Moll placed second in the girls middle school race.

Emery said he hopes to get the Panthers into several more challenging meets next season. He said he’d like to see the Panthers get back into the Osceola Invitational and the Roy Griak Invitational at the University of Minnesota to provide the Panthers with more challenges during the season.

The Panthers will compete this Friday in the WIAA Division 2 sectional meet at Amery. The girls’ meet will begin at 4 p.m. with the boys’ race starting 45 minutes later. The Panther boys are hoping they can compete for one of the two team berths that advance from the sectional meet to state, which will be run the following weekend in Wisconsin Rapids.

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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