WISCONSIN RAPIDS, Wis. — Gale-Ettrick-Trempealeau High School junior Dana Feyen won the WIAA Division 2 state cross individual championship on Saturday, but all she wanted after finishing the race was a cup of hot chocolate.
WISCONSIN RAPIDS, Wis. — After crossing the finish line, Onalaska Luther High School junior David Vannucchi collapsed to the ground, exhausted…
Feyen led most of the 5,000 meters Saturday at The Ridges Golf Course in front of about 3,000 people, and she crossed the finish line in 18 minutes, 39 seconds as temperatures hovered below 40 degrees.
“It was really a special atmosphere and I love being here,” the two-time champion said. “This is what I love to do. It’s just really special to get the most out of myself.
“The energy, the people … running has the best people. I’m just overwhelmed at the class acts that runners are.”
That time isn’t as fast as last season’s championship winning time of 18:21, and her 2015 runner-up time was 19 minutes flat.
Feyen’s time on Saturday is the sixth-fastest in Division 2 history since the WIAA extended the girls race to a 5K.
There was no pressure, just giddiness to be challenged again at state.
“Some people might find that to be pressure, but I’m just really excited to be here,” Feyen said. “The biggest pressure comes from myself. I’m very self-motivated, and I want to get the best out of myself.
“I’m pushing toward new goals.”
Feyen set the tone by running a 5:43 on the first mile.
“I’m confident in my training, and the work was done once I got to the starting line,” Feyen said. “The preparation building up to this, doing the little things right. I wanted to go hard from the gun and see what I could do.
“There’s not always girls pushing me, so it’s me against the clock.”
The first few meters, however, didn’t go as planned. As an individual competitor, Feyen was in Lane No. 6 near the middle of the start line.
After the starting gun sounded, all the runners dashed toward the middle, and Feyen lost her footing trying to mark her front-running spot over the first 100 meters.
That didn’t deter the Red Hawk as she quickly jumped back to the front.
“That was a little off, but you have to put that behind you,” Feyen said. “I tried to get back with the pack and run hard treating it like any other race. Things like that happen.”
Feyen loves to run, and her cross country season isn’t over yet. She’s hoping to qualify for a national meet.
“There’s not a whole lot I can do fitness wise, but just get to the (start) line healthy,” Feyen said. “At the state meet, there’s a high quality number of competitors, but it’s just a whole different race at regionals. There will be people definitely pushing me there.”
No family member was prouder than Feyen’s brother Doug, who finished in 26th in the Division 2 boys meet (17:02).
“I can’t even express how proud I am of her,” he said. “She’s worked so hard. I see how hard she works. She’s always putting in her 100 percent no matter what.”
ONALASKA FINISHES THIRD: The Malecek triplets – Kora, Lydia and Amalia – helped Onalaska clinch third place as a team in the Division 1 race that started off the day.
Kora Malecek finished in 11th, Lydia Malecek was in 30th and Amalia Malecek got 47th.
Kora Malecek improved five spots from Mile No. 1 to No. 2, but lost a spot in the final stretch. Despite what the numbers say, Kora Malecek liked how she finished.
“I was surprised at how many people were so good, and it was probably the best end of a race that I’ve had so far,” Kora Malecek said. “The girl who won (Janesville Craig senior Peyton Sippy in 18:01) … the level that they’re on is so insane. It makes me excited so I can train for when I can get even better.”
Ellie Smith finished fourth for the Hilltoppers in 52nd, and the last three runners for the Hilltoppers – Aubrey Clements, Carolyn Kearns and Rachel Hosch – improved their positioning by six spots from the second mile marker to end. Hosch bumped up seven spots.
All seven runners are freshmen, and the ambience of a state meet was tough to grapple at first.
“The course was amazing, but I was intimidated by all the teams here,” Amalia Malecek said. “I was excited but no one goes to a meet without being nervous. It’s a really official meet. I feel like maybe it’s the largeness of it all.”
Even though Sippy won the individual title, the Hilltoppers topped Craig in the team standings. Onalaska had 174 points, and the two teams that beat the Hilltoppers were Sun Prairie (57) and Muskego (74). Sun Prairie graduates two seniors while all seven runners for Muskego will return.
“Our team did really well, and we were competitive,” Lydia Malecek said. “We’re young, but we like to get out there and try our hardest. I want our team to win state one of these times.”
TWO MVC SENIORS SAY GOODBYE: Holmen’s Mason Kalander wasn’t happy about her performance Saturday, but she had a really strong start.
The Vikings senior started out in 20th after one mile, but finished in 38th (19:43) to wrap up her cross country career.
Central senior Alex Bruley finished in 54th, and finished in 19:54.
AQUINAS TURNS ATTENTION TO SOCCER: Aquinas freshman Karlie Meyer led the Blugolds with a 45th-place finish (21:12), while the senior bunch was led by Ryanne Schneider (52nd, 21:26).
The senior quartet of Schneider, Caroline Gundersen, Katie Hilby and Nora Reuteman accomplished making the state meet in all four years. Now, the Blugolds seniors attempt to make a four-peat in girls soccer in the spring.
WESTBY RECORDS ANOTHER TOP FINISH: Westby’s girls, who qualified as a team for the sixth straight year, placed fifth in Division 2.
The Norsemen have qualified in both Division 2 and 3 during the state run and were led by senior Elena Schmidt’s 39th-place finish overall (20:35.76). Westby’s team score of 177 was comfortably ahead of sixth-place Port Washington and St. Croix Central (199).
Seniors Abbey Wedwick (42nd, 20:38.61) and Sydney Sherry (46th, 20:45.04) weren’t far behind Schmidt.