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Division 1 humbles New Richmond cross country team

The New Richmond boys cross country team breaks away from the starting line at the Division 1 sectional meet in Menomonie on Saturday. 1 / 2
New Richmond senior Maddie Kelly (142) runs through one of the wooded areas along the Division 1 sectional cross country course in Menomonie on Saturday. 2 / 2

Making the step up to Division 1 for the WIAA post-season continues to be a source of major frustration for the New Richmond cross country team.

The Tigers dominated the Middle Border Conference this season, winning all of the conference’s varsity and junior varsity team championships. But in Saturday’s Division 1 sectional meet, the Tigers ran up against opposition that brought them back to earth. The Tiger girls placed eighth and the Tiger boys were 10th among the 12 teams competing in the sectional meet.

The hopes of getting individuals through to the state meet were also squashed by the exceptional talent in the sectional races. Senior Maddie Kelly was the top placer for the Tigers at the sectional, placing 20th in the girls race. Junior Jack Utzman led the Tiger boys by placing 25th.

The eighth place finish is the best for the Tiger girls in a sectional meet since they moved to Division 1 and they finished one point behind seventh-place Superior. Coach Beth Kelly said there were bright spots for the Tigers, including Peyton Olien and Kanya Dwire, who both continued their recent progress.

“Peyton is just figuring out how to race. She’s PR’ed every race since she’s figured it out,” Coach Kelly said.

While the girls finished on a positive note, the boys were hoping to make more of an impact at the sectional. Utzman has been battling illness for the past month and couldn’t produce an effort like he had when he won the Middle Border Conference individual championship. Junior Brennan Roby, the Tigers’ second runner, was competing for the first time in several weeks after recovering from a stress fracture.

There is every reason to believe the Tigers will come back just as strongly next season. There are just six seniors on the roster of more than 60 runners. There are also 25 runners competing in eighth grade on the middle school team. Coach Kelly said she didn’t expect all the eighth graders to join the high school team, but she does expect a large number of runners on the team next year. The Tigers already need two buses and a trailer to travel to meets.

“It’s a good problem to have,” she said.

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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