The five scoring runners for the West Salem High School boys cross country team all finished among the top 20 to win a championship at the WIAA Division 2 Arcadia sectional last Saturday.
The competition will ramp this Saturday as the Panthers try their luck at the WIAA state cross country meet in Wisconsin Rapids, Wis.
West Salem coach LeRoy Krall said his runners can’t let opposing runners impact their mentality in running the race that everyone had as a goal enterting the sectional.
“They’re used to being in the top 10 or 20 percent of most races,” Krall said.
If that doesn’t happen in this expanded field of the state’s top runners, Krall said the Panthers have to keep concentration on their own races.
The sectional meet had 100 runners. The state meet will have 150, all of which were good enough to advance from sectional fields.
Instead of worrying about sticking with the leading runners when they take off, the Panthers have to worry about running the best race they can run for the best possible team finish.
“They need to know the race is still in front of them and keep the reality of where (they) are,” Krall said.
Senior Michael Sauter placed 10th at the sectional meet to lead West Salem with a time of 17 minutes, 39 seconds.
Sophomore Riley Scallon (17:54) and junior Cameron Robaczewski (17:58) finished directly behind Sauter.
Freshman Connor Koepnick (18:07) placed 14th, while senior Noah Jacobson (18:17) rounded out the quintet with an 18th-place finish.
“We’ve got five kids that are pretty darn equal,” Krall said, adding that he knows this group will be able to settle into a bigger pack.
“They’ve become very independent as runners. They’ll be able to figure it out for themselves what they need to do.”
DIVISION 1 GIRLS: Holmen junior Sierra Rabe will be the Vikings’ lone representative at the state meet, after finishing seventh at the Menomonie sectional. Rabe finished in 12th place as a sophomore with a state time of 14:45.
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Placing one spot ahead of Rabe at sectionals was Onalaska senior Monica Delgado, who will be making her state debut.
DIVISION 2 BOYS: After watching the girls program head to state each of the past two seasons, the Sparta boys team will be making a trip of its own this Saturday.
The Spartans placed second at the Arcadia regional, led by a fifth-place finish by junior John Roddick.
“It was a pleasant shock,” Sparta coach Jean Roddick said of the team’s qualifying run. “We knew that we could contend, and the girls had been to state the past couple of years, so the boys set their sights on that too.”
Senior Andrew Ochoa placed 13th at the sectional meet, while Trygve Zurfluh, Austin Feltner and Max Engh finished 23rd, 25th and 26th, respectively.
“On Saturday it was (the goal to) just go after places instead of times,” Jean Roddick said. “Our 4-5-6 runners really kind of clinched it for us.”
Viroqua senior Isaiah Abt placed fourth at the Arcadia sectional and will return to state for the Blackhawks after placing 44th in 2012.
DIVISION 2 GIRLS: Viroqua heads back to state after placing 13th in 2011, but this season’s team is led by freshman Andrea Weston, who placed second at the Arcadia sectional in 16:31.
West Salem junior Hannah Thorn will be returning to state after placing fourth at sectionals. Thorn finished 44th at state in 2012.
DIVISION 3 BOYS: Brookwood, which placed 12th in 2012, returns four runners from last season’s state meet, including senior Walker Rynes, who placed 19th as a junior.
The Falcons finished second at the Westby sectional to the host Norsemen, who are led by senior Austin Pasch. Pasch won the sectional in 15:52, outpacing the field by 29.1 seconds.
DIVISION 3 GIRLS: Westby will return to state after winning its own sectional with 57 team points and holding off second-place Melrose-Mindoro (80).
The Norsemen will be without the graduated Allyson Daines, who placed sixth at state a season ago, but the junior trio of Becca Maxwell, Sammi Hansen and Emily Culligan, as well as sophomore Kelsey Daines, will represent Westby at the state meet.
Maxwell won the Arcadia sectional this past Saturday, and is the top returner for the Norsemen after finishing 49th last year.