Valders’ Michael Evans didn’t quite accomplish his goal of finishing his senior year of cross country on the WIAA Cross Country Championships podium, but his finish was one to remember.
Even if he doesn’t.
Evans found something inside for a final 50-yard burst, getting past Kyler Lueck of Wisconsin Lutheran in the last few feet for a seventh-place finish in the boys Division 2 race at The Ridges Golf Course.
The top six medal, and Evans — who won State as a sophomore and took 10th last fall — was in the mix early on. He was in sixth at the Mile 1 marker of the 5K race, and ninth at Mile 2.
He wasn’t able to catch the sixth-place finisher, senior Bryce Miller of Ashland, who came across in 16:07. But there was time for one final push.
“Races like this are determined by soul, heart and need,” said Evans. “Who wanted it more.”
Evans just beat out Lueck for a memorable finish, but required medical attention, plus oxygen, for nearly 20 minutes after the race.
As for that final stretch, “I don’t remember any of it,” he said later. “I was running on fumes.”
Evans was with his teammates for the third time, and as a unit, the Vikings finished ninth. Shorewood won the team title. New Glarus/Monticello senior Ryan McCoy easily won the D2 race in 15:28.3.
Other Valders runners were sophomore Derek Doescher (50th, 17:09.8), senior Tom Meidl (97th, 17:46.5), senior Joey Krizek (124th, 18:17.6), junior Zach Leschke (130th, 18:28.2), senior Joey Kinscher (132nd, 18:30.5) and sophomore Thomas Schwoerer (135th, 18:32.6).
“Going into the end of the year, the team was really bonding well,” said Meidl. “To get here three years in a row is incredible.”
Kiel senior Matt Ritger came full circle, competing at State for the first time since coming as part of the Raiders’ team his freshman year.
Ritger finished 89th in 17:40.9, which was five seconds off his senior time — but nearly seven minutes better than when he was at The Ridges three years ago when he took dead last.
“It was good, lots of fun,” Ritger said. “There’s so much energy from the crowd.”
Senior Phil Krahn led the Manitowoc Lutheran team effort, taking 52nd in 17:38.9, and senior Connor Rehbein, 63rd in 17:46.3.
Other Lutheran runners were junior Brad Kasten (98th, 18:11.1), senior Garrett Buch (106th, 18:25.3), junior JT Pekarske (115th, 18:37.4), junior Jared Muench (132nd, 19:02.4) and senior Kane Neubauer (141st, 19:24.3).
The Lancers finished 14th as a team; Boscobel won the title with just 50 team points. Darlington junior Tyson Miehe won the D3 title (15:51.9) by nearly 23 seconds.
GIRLS Division 2
Kiel junior Jena Williams wanted to at least finish in 16th place, the spot she finished last season as a sophomore.
Mission exactly accomplished; she finished 16th again, in 15:23.4.
“Overall, I’m happy,” Williams said.
Williams said the start was blazing fast, and an elite few left the rest of the field gasping early on.
“The first mile was way too fast for me,” she said. “It was too fast for a lot of people.”
The other two locals in the race also finished in the top-half. Valders sophomore Beth Evans finished 48th in 15:56.2, and Two Rivers junior Carly Terp was 73rd in 16:16.2.
McFarland senior Jamie Shannon won the race in 14:38.9. Dodgeville/Mineral Point edged Green Bay Notre Dame for the team title.
Manitowoc Lutheran junior Rachel Winter was the only area entrant in the D3 race, but she came to run.
On the treacherous state course, Winter improved upon her sectional time by 16 seconds, taking 27th in 15:56.5.
Ladysmith senior Andrea Ostenso won the D3 race in 14:34.6. Spring Valley won the team title.