Sectional cross country
Prairie runners enjoy Sectional Cross Country Meet
Saturday, Oct. 26 marked the end of the Prairie du Chien Cross Country team’s season with the WIAA Sectional meet in Monroe. The girls’ performance earned them a 14th-place finish at the meet, with 353 points. Seniors Claire Bowar (48th, 17:43) Liz LaHaie (80th, 19:08) and Kelly Heal (87th, 19:44) capped off their careers with a final race for the Blackhawks.
“All three of these girls drastically improved their times from last year’s sectional race, despite the windy conditions we faced today,” said Coach Alli Tank.
Bowar pulled into the finish first for the Blackhawks, as she has done at every race this season, to be the undisputed number one runner on the team. Heal (87th, 19:44) finished her senior season as Co-Captain with Bowar. Coach Tank was especially pleased with LaHaie’s performance from the moment the gun fired. “Right away, Liz put herself into the thick of it,” said Tank. “I could see on her face that she had decided to step out of her comfort zone and make sure her last race was a great one.” LaHaie finished right behind freshman teammate, Ashley Ingle (79th, 19:08); the only team member competing in sectionals for the first time.
Sisters Brianna (62nd, 18:05) and Hanna Herreid (85th, 19:25) and teammate Mariah Schwager (92nd, 20:37) will be returning next year as seniors to lead the Blackhawks. Tank says that the training the girls put in between now and next season will be crucial for the program to keep moving forward. “Obviously, to improve, you need to train. I can see the potential these girls have, and I believe all of our runners can train much harder than they have in the past. Each runner must actively choose to chase after their goals. When that happens, our dreams will become our realities,” Tank said.
Coming off one of the best conference finishes in recent years, the boys’ team sought to add one more building block of the program onto an impressive foundation that was laid this season. After the dust had settled from Saturday’s sectional meet, the boys’ team improved three spots from last season to finish 12th overall with 277 points, closely behind River Valley’s 271 points.
“After conference, we knew we would easily improve from last year’s finish here.” head coach Patrick Klein said, “But the question was how much? Overall, I don’t feel that we had our best race. It is very encouraging to see, however, that we can come down here on an ‘off’ day and still finish where we did. It speaks volumes about how far these guys have come.”
Senior Ethan Ingle (17th, 17:17) was just 20 seconds shy of qualifying individually to the WIAA State Meet. Other seniors who ended their cross country careers on Saturday were Nate Nichols (63rd, 19:09), and Ethan Mara (80th, 19:52). “Nate and Ethan Mara were our captains this season. I think this made them more invested in the team’s welfare, which helped spur the great improvements each made this season,” said Klein.
Klein was also impressed with Nichols’s consistency near the end of the season. “In the last four weeks, Nate stepped up and took charge when the team needed it. I hope the younger guys can follow this example going into next season,” Klein said.
Jacob Schneider (54th, 18:48) was the second Blackhawk in, followed by Nichols, Jacob Linder (71st, 19:33), Nick Johnson (72nd, 19:35), Mara and Connor George (85th, 20:01).
With the departure of the seniors, the boys’ team will look among the juniors for leadership and the underclassmen to commit towards the continued success of the program. “From day one, everyone knew that Prairie du Chien cross country’s road to the top began now. Although the season is finished, the hard part is just beginning. We’ve got guys who have really bought into this dream and are ready to train through the cold winter and hot summer to claim a varsity spot next year. I’m looking forward to these surprises in just 10 short months,” said Klein.