WISCONSIN RAPIDS, Wis. — They were calm, collected. Most importantly, they were healthy.
After a tumultuous 2012 season of stress fractures, collapsed lungs and mononucleosis, the runners on the Logan High School cross country team accomplished their first goal even before Saturday’s WIAA Division 1 state race even started: field a healthy team.
The Rangers used that healthy squad to finish fourth for the second time in four years.
Logan, which was ranked as high as second this season, had aspirations to compete closer to the top, perhaps even take home the school’s first boys state cross country title, but Stevens Point spoiled those plans by placing all five scoring runners in the top 30 of team competition.
The Rangers, much like they have all season, did their scoring with pack running. In fact, all five scorers finished within 18.32 seconds to finish with 156 points as a team. Stevens Point had 83.
“There was just an 18-second split between first and fifth (runners), which is really an accomplishment for us,” said Logan senior Chris Ganrude, who led the Rangers by completing the 5,000-meter race in a time of 16:41.08.
“We just couldn’t get in that top three.”
Ganrude, who ran in last year’s state meet while battling mononucleosis, scored 22nd in team competition and finished 40th overall.
“Coming in, I said we could run with anybody in the state, and we came in and I think we showed it,” Logan coach Pat Mulrooney said. “Only three schools in the state of Wisconsin are better than us in the largest classification of cross country schools. I think our kids should hold their heads high and feel awfully good with what they’ve accomplished.”
And they did. Despite just missing out on the top three, the Rangers were all smiles as they walked back to their tent following their final race of the season.
And why wouldn’t they be?
The Rangers have been to six straight state meets and have finished sixth or better in each of the past four seasons.
“I don’t know many schools in the state that can say over the last four years that we’ve had four finishes in the top six among Division 1,” Mulrooney said. “I’m really happy.”
The Rangers finished sixth last season with a depleted lineup and third in 2011.
“We set our goals high, but we’re all very happy with fourth place,” Logan senior Soren Johnson said. “When it comes down to it, there’s only three teams in the state that are better than us, and that really means a lot.”
Johnson finished 73rd overall and 41st in team competition with a time of 16:59.40. He was the fifth scorer for the Rangers, who had Andrew Olson (26th, 16:49.74), Henry Meger (28th, 16:49.95) and Eric Deetz (39th, 16:57.97) also score.
“We were blessed this year with health and no injuries,” Johnson said. “It was great.”
And matching the third-best team score in school history was just the cherry on top.
“I’m happy for all of these seniors,” Ganrude said, himself included. “It’s been an amazing four years.”