For the first time in two decades, a Tomah High School boys cross country team has won a multi-team invitational.
Led by four runners in the top 12 and five in the top 17, the Timberwolves claimed first place at the Neillsville/Granton Invitational held at Levis-Mound Nordic Center.
The Timberwolves edged Medford by four points for the team title.
Tomah coach Jon Heesch said it was a “great and exciting start to the season as we continue to build toward the end of the season.”
Trevin Nelson led the Timberwolves with a time of 17 minutes, 46.1 seconds and finished fifth, but what decided the team title occurred nearly 30 seconds after Nelson crossed the finish line. Nelson’s teammates Caleb Lenning (18:13.6) and Eugene Peterson (18:16.1) finished sixth and seventh and held off eighth-place finisher Ray Zirngible of Medford.
Had Zirngible passed the two Tomah runners and finished sixth, both teams would have scored 49 points, and Medford would have been awarded the team title based on the highest individual finisher. Medford’s Trey Ulrich won the race in 17:18.3.
Tomah’s other scorers were Coy Nelson (12th, 18:36) and Shandii Begay (17th, 18:51).
Five other Tomah runners finished in the top half of the field: Eric Tollefson (26th, 19:15), Matthew Holtz (36th, 19:50), Micah Winchell (48th, 20:29), Weston Boettcher (52nd, 20:54) and Austin Lyden (68th, 21:44).
Rounding Tomah’s times were Charlie Ella (21:51), Jesse Smith (22:06), Daniel Swanson (22:56), Sabin Koss (28:00) and Eric Wilcox-Borg (29:34).
The meet was conducted as one race with no distinction between varsity and junior varsity.
Team scores: Tomah 47, Medford 51, Sparta 105, Loyal/Greenwood 109, Augusta 112, Colby/Abbotsford 170, Neillsville/Granton 201, Bangor 212, Cadott 273, Eau Claire Regis 277, Pittsville 308, Osseo-Fairchild 317, Alma Center Lincoln 333, Mondovi 379, Thorp incomplete, Chippewa Valley incomplete.
The Tomah girls weren’t able to field a complete five-runner team but still got a huge effort from Hannah Wilcox-Borg, who finished third in the 95-athlete field with a time of 20:54.3.
Two other Tomah girls finished in the top third of the field. Brooke Batten was 27th in 25:11, and Brooke Lucka was 28th in 25:13. Kyrie Ambrosia-Brown was Tomah’s fourth runner with a time of 35:01.
Tomah was one of seven squads to field incomplete teams. Medford easily won the team title with four of the top seven individuals.
Heesch said both teams did a good job of managing a hilly course on an unusually warm day for mid-September.
“The course was a bit hilly with a couple of longer climbs, and it was rather hot,” Heesch said. “With it being hilly, however, many runners improved on their (personal records) from last week. The team overall is continuing to build on the work that they have put in and are seeing the results.”
Tomah’s next meet is Tuesday, Sept. 19 at the Wautoma Invitational starting at 4 p.m. The field includes Sparta, Adams/Friendship, Mosinee, Wisconsin Dells, Clintonville, Hilbert, Hortonville, Necedah, Portage, Weyauwega-Fremont, Westfield and Green Lake/Princeton.
The Timberwolves host an invitational at Hiawatha Golf Club Tuesday, Oct. 3 starting at 4 p.m.