The WIAA State Cross-country championships were held on a cold and almost wintery, Saturday, Oct. 28, at Ridges Golf Course in Wisconsin Rapids. The Westby girls’ team finished fifth overall, while Hayden Fredrickson finished sixth individually for the Westby boys.
In the past decade, Westby girls’ cross-country teams have advanced to the state meet for the past six straight years and the Westby boys’ teams have participated at state three times.
Head Coach Brian Huebner said the Westby kids are exceptional across the board and that this year’s group of cross-country state qualifiers are very humble. During a pep session on Oct. 27, he told the athlete’s peers that the kids had a job to do and they didn’t need any extra bells or whistles to get the job done. They didn’t need any special transportation to haul them to the state meet; they didn’t need any special reward for doing the job they signed onto do when they joined the team; they didn’t need any special food or party favors; what they needed most was the support and respect of their biggest fans, including classmates, coaches, staff, parents, family and the community they were going to state to represent.
This year’s cross-country team (39 strong) was the largest to date for coaches’ Huebner and Assistant Dave Nelson. This close-knit group of athletes and senior strong team weren’t ready for the season to end, but hopefully the miles that bound them throughout the years will not separate them just because the season ends.
Representing the Norse girls team at state: seniors, Abbey Wedwick, Julianne Call, Lexi Crume, Elena Schmidt, Sydney Sherry; and juniors, Justice Franks and Erinn Sebion. The team alternate was Grace Hebel.
State team scores: Freedom 68, Wisconsin Dells 98, Lake Mills 118, Jefferson 155, Westby 177, Port Washington 199, Saint Croix Central 199, Wisconsin Lutheran 211, Lakeland 218, Appleton Xavier 232, Grafton 236, Prairie du Chien 256, Plymouth 272, Hayward 274, Random Lake/Ozaukee 347, McFarland 352.
Individually for Westby: 20th, Elena Schmidt 20:35.76; 23rd, Abbey Wedwick 20:38.61; 26th, Sydney Sherry 20:45.04; 39th, Julianne Call 20:59.20; 69th, Justice Franks 21:36.26; 85th, Lexi Crume 21:52.25 and 89th, Erinn Sebion 22:04.63.
The overall individual state champion was Dana Feyen (GET) 18:39.68. There were 150 runners in Division 2. This was the fourth straight appearance at state for Westby seniors, Abbey Wedwick, Julianne Call and Elena Schmidt.
Huebner said his only disappointment for the Westby girls’ team is not with kids, but the idea that you only get so many shots or opportunities at a team title and we came up just a bit short.
“This has been an outstanding year in many ways and it is sad for it to come to end. Endings are however what make us appreciate things in our lives and I have greatly appreciated these fine young women,” Huebner said.
The Westby boys were represented by senior Hayden Fredrickson who won the WIAA Division 2 Sectional title the week before in Westby to advance to the state meet.
Fredrickson finished sixth individually at the state meet with a time of 16:27, slightly slower than his sectional time win of 16:12, where he also had home course advantage. The Division 2 boys state race was the last event of the day making for less than ideal course conditions following a week of cold wet weather, including a rain/snow mix.
Fredrickson finished the race with his trademark smile on his face, just happy to have earned a return trip to the big show and another chance to represent Westby. This was his third time in four years participating at the state level. He has been selected to the All-State team and he is the fourth Westby male runner to finish in the top 10 at state. His time in Westby history was the second fastest time recorded at state meet behind Westby alum Pete Jaeger.
“I love Hayden’s mentality about running, his preparation, and his determination. It has carried through to my message to all of the kids, that the state meet is not an end to a running career, but just another experience in life,” Huebner said.
This year’s individual champion was Kavanaugh FitzPatrick with a time of 15:52.88. Locally, Ramon Romero of Arcadia finished in fourth place with a time of 16:05 and Charlie McKinney of West Salem finished eighth with a time of 16:31.
Huebner and Nelson said they couldn’t be prouder of this special group of kids and they wish all of them only the best. They said the seniors, state qualifiers and team participants are a role model for all the underclassmen and middle school kids on what comes from hard work and dedication whether you are competing in extracurricular activities or academically.
Congratulations on your excellent season.
State Cross country Local Finishes
Local individual finishers: 4, Ramon Romero (Arcadia) 16:05.90 6, Hayden Fredrickson (Westby) 16:27.80 8, Charlie McKinney (West Salem) 16:31.42 .
Team scores: Freedom 68, Wisconsin Dells 98, Lake Mills 118, Jefferson 155, Westby 177, Port Washington 199, Saint Croix Central 199, Wisconsin Lutheran 211, Lakeland 218, Appleton Xavier 232, Grafton 236, Prairie du Chien 256, Plymouth 272, Hayward 274, Random Lake/Ozaukee 347, McFarland 352.
Individual champion: Dana Feyen (GET) 18:39.68
WESTBY: 20, Elena Schmidt 20:35.76 23, Abbey Wedwick 20:38.61 26, Sydney Sherry 20:45.04 39, Julianne Call 20:59.20 69, Justice Franks 21:36.26 PRAIRIE DU CHIEN: 25, Karly Jaynes 20:40.72 35, Amber Huser 20:55.41 37, Meg Katzung 20:58.48 71, Greta Hein 21:39.83 88, Ella Hein 21:59.36.
Individual champion: David Vannucchi (OL) 15:54.83.
ONALASKA LUTHER: 1, Vannucchi 15:54.83 7, Sam Larson 16:43.53 30, Quaid Handy 17:43.11 78, Micah Schibbelhut (18:58.77) 81, Thomas Walsh 19:08.44.
Team scores: Dodgeland 56, Lancaster 97, Marshall 108, Auburndale 114, Palmyra-Eagle 135, Oshkosh Lourdes Academy 161, Bonduel 188, Aquinas 223, Glenwood City 251, Cashton 262, Phillips 277, Cameron 280, Oostburg 285, Rosholt 315, Chequamegon 326, Weyauwega-Fremont 336.
Individual champion: Marissa Ellenbecker (Edgar) 18:56.33.
CASHTON:15, Gracey Mlsna 21:05.38 52, Emma Schlesner 22:18.52 62, Izzi Mason 22:33.70 64, Annie Schreier 22:36.93 69, Lydia Korn 22:53.15.