The Gale-Ettrick-Trempealeau High School boys cross country team is seeking respect today at the WIAA state meet in Wisconsin Rapids, Wis.
The Red Hawks are making their first trip to state since 2005. They finished second to Logan at last week’s sectional meet in Westby.
G-E-T was not ranked most of the regular season by state coaches, but that’s fine with coach Don Foley. The state event can help build a reputation for it, and a No. 13 ranking entering today is a good start.
“I think it’s good to get our name out there as a boys team,” Foley said. “The cross country community knows G-E-T because of Dana (Feyen). It’s an important thing for our boys to get noticed around the state. I like to point out the fact that we’re underdogs, and we are.”
G-E-T will compete in the Division 2 race — the final one of the day at 3:10 p.m. at the Ridges Golf Course. The first boys race (Division 1) is at 2 p.m.
Foley returned to coach the Red Hawks in 2011 and credits the program continually allowing itself to build.
Red Hawks junior Doug Feyen led the squad at the sectional with a fifth-place finish in 16 minutes, 44 seconds.
Feyen used the track season and the summer to regain some confidence lost last season. Feyen was injured — calf and Achilles — at the beginning of last season and it took some time to bounce back.
Feyen found some of his mojo after finishing eighth (10:11) in this year’s McFarland Sectional 3,200-meter run.
After that, Feyen used the summer to train with Dana Feyen, the Red Hawks’ ace on the girls team — and his sister.
“Doug has put in so much work,” Foley said. “He had to take weeks off early in the year, and was barely able to come back on it. He came really hard through rehab.”
Josh Jumbeck, the team’s No. 2 runner, ran at state last year as the program’s lone representative. He was 71st in 17:45, and has used his experiences to help the younger runners get better.
“Josh opened the door for us,” Foley said. “Through hard work and determination, he showed our younger kids that that’s the success you can have.
“Both of those kids (Doug Feyen and Jumbeck) are really good leaders, but they’re quiet and lead more by example,” Foley added.
LOGAN, LUTHER AMONG OTHER TEAMS: Logan has been in a winning mood since winning the MVC meet, and it hopes that its success can continue today.
The Rangers are ranked No. 10 in Division 2 after winning its conference and sectional meets.
Sophomore Zach Slevin has led the Rangers in both postseason meets. In the conference meet, he finished fourth (17:12) in a race where Logan took four of the top 15 spots.
In the sectional meet, Slevin ended up in eighth, and his other four teammates who contributed to the scoring all finished among the top 20.
“For us to be successful, that’s who we are,” Logan coach Pat Mulrooney said. “We need each boy to feel that they are a significant contributor.”
Onalaska Luther will run at the meet in Division 3 for the second straight year. Knights junior David Vannucchi won last weekend’s Durand Sectional in 16:36.
Vannucchi had some teammates not far behind him. Sam Larson was third (16:53) and Quaid Handy was fourth (17:07).
The Knights are ranked fourth in Division 3.
AQUINAS SENDS TWO: The Aquinas Blugolds were hoping to send their team back to state after getting second overall in 2016.
But, the Blugolds will have two strong runners.
The Blugolds fell six points short at Saturday’s sectional, and Aquinas will be represented by Ethan Gregg and Jeremiah Degroot. Gregg and Degroot both finished in the top 10, but the Knights edged Aquinas to shut it out while Durand won the sectional team title.
Degroot made it to state despite contracting Lyme disease before the season started. The Blugolds senior didn’t have the start he wanted, but Degroot’s positive attitude throughout the entire season helped get him to Wisconsin Rapids.
“In my 17 years of coaching, he’s one of the four best leaders I’ve ever had,” Aquinas coach Geoff Wilhelmy said.
Gregg wasn’t well at the beginning of the season, either. The Aquinas 5-foot-6 junior fought a case of pneumonia and missed the first three meets of the season.
“He has the tenacity of a bulldog,” Wilhelmy said. “Ethan presses on. I expect he’ll do very well as will Jeremiah too. They do not let their illnesses affect their positivity. Positivity is a discipline. They’re very disciplined individuals.”