Giving everything they had was the race plan for New Richmond's Dylan Wachter and Kayla Harris when they ran in their first WIAA State Cross Country Championships races on Saturday, Oct. 28 in Wisconsin Rapids.
Both runners performed quite admirably, finishing in the top half of their Division 1 fields. Wachter placed 87th among 189 runners in the Division 1 boys race and Harris placed 93rd in the Division 1 girls race on Saturday.
Because the Tigers were running against Division 1 opposition, they had very few familiar opponents competing in the state race. So instead of trying to pace off other runners, they focused solely on running their own race. For Wachter, the goal was what became his season-long goal, to finish in under 17 minutes. Wachter just missed that goal, finishing in 17:06. Tiger coach Beth Kelly said very few runners were running their usual times because the second half of the course, held on The Ridges Golf Club in Wisconsin Rapids, is extremely hilly with a number of sharp corners that force runners to break stride.
Harris had the same plan for her state race. It was even more of a challenge for her, because Wachter is a senior and has competed against runners from Hudson and other area schools for several years. Harris is a freshman. She handled the pressure of running at state well to finish in 20:20. Harris holds the distinction of being the first New Richmond girl to qualify for state as a Division 1 runner. Coach Kelly said that probably meant more to her than Harris, because the Tiger coaches have watched for several years as the team fell short of getting someone to the state meet.
Wachter and Harris both were eighth place finishers at the Menomonie Division 1 sectional meet, which qualified them for state. Coach Kelly said they are similar runners, especially in their mental approach to big races.
"They have a good kind of nervous, it works in their favor. They get excited to compete," Kelly said.
Two more runners from each of the Tiger teams went along as companions for Wachter and Harris. Chase Chiarle and Max Fore accompanied Wachter and Willa Rogers and Barb Kling went with Harris. Those four runners are a big part of the team's future plans and the coaches wanted to make sure they were all familiar with the rigors of competing at the state level. There were several more Tigers who made the trip to Wisconsin Rapids to cheer on their teammates at the state meet.