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Hansen/Kitzinger Claim State Cross Country Medals

Gillett's Sylvia Hansen was the top finisher of nine local runners at the Wisconsin State Cross Country Meet held in Wisconsin Rapids over the weekend, taking third in Division III.

Hansen, a freshman, ran a 19:35.21 to take third of 151 state-qualified runners, behind only Edgar sophomore Marissa Ellenbecker and Lancaster junior Lydia Murphy.

Hansen became the first Gillett Tiger to make it onto the podium at a state meet. Gillett Coach Emily Young was obviously impressed with the result.

"Sylvia, over the course of the season, has learned how to race, not only with her body, but also with her mind," Young said. "She knows her abilities and she knows when to use them."

Young said she sees a bright future for Hansen, saying, "She's a smart racer and has a hunger for winning. She's a well-rounded athlete and with everything that she holds within her, she has a bright future."

Hansen's teammate, senior Lauren Herzog, took 33rd in DIII with a time of 20:54.16. It was Herzog's third appearance at state in her high school career.

Young said Herzog "peaked at exactly the right time this year. She raced her heart out at the sectional meet and carried that through to the state meet."

On coaching Herzog, Young said, "It has been a joy coaching her the last three years and I will miss her positive, hard-working, leading attitude," while adding that Herzog "has been a good role model for [Hansen]."

In DII, Marinette had an underclassman place in the top ten as well to earn a medal, with sophomore Katelyn Kitzinger taking ninth of 150 with a time of 19:39.36.

Marinette Coach Jenni Campbell said of Kitzinger's race, "Katelyn ran a smart race from start to finish, moving up places throughout the race," while saying, "Katelyn is a great competitor. She leaves it all out on the course and if it comes down to a battle to the finish line, Katelyn finds another gear."

Kitzinger was in 13th place after the first mile, moving up a spot by the end of the second mile and leaping to ninth by the finish line.

For the Marine boys, junior Carson Polomis gave Marinette the school's highest finish since Josh Nygren took 13th in 2000, taking 17th with a time of 16:48.94.

The time topped his previous personal best by 11 seconds, with Campbell calling both runners' races "phenomenal."

Campbell was excited about what the season meant for the Marinette cross country program as a whole.

"What an honor to send two Marines to state this year," Campbell said. "This is very exciting for our program and our team is motivated to set the bar higher for next season. These athletes work so hard and their state performances are the reward of all the training, commitment and effort all year."

Also in Division II, Peshtigo junior Alana Finger took 34th at 20:28.15 and senior Katrina Salmen finished off her cross country career with a 67th-place finish and a time of 20:59.56.

"It's good to know that hard work pays off," Salmen said. "I knew it was the last chance."

Salmen said her goal was to beat her time from 2015, when she took 87th with a time of 21:09.30, while adding that the course was easier this year.

"When we made it two years ago, the course was really muddy, Salmen said. "At least this time it was more solid, but the hills are still hard. We had hills at sectionals, so we were a little more prepared."

Finger took 58th in 2015 and said she was able to improve on that place and have fun in the process.

"I actually had fun," Finger said. "It was a fun course for me... There are so many people, you were never running by yourself, so it was nice to have that competition."

Finger said cold temperatures, with temperatures never getting above 40 degrees, impacted the race as well.

"We ran probably close to a mile before the race of just warmups," Finger said. "My feet were really cold" the entire time, and when we stopped at the finish line, it was like an instant headache" but I think it was a fun day."

Coleman sophomore Kasey Casper, returned to the state meet for the second year in a row to take 55th with a time of 17:44.08. "I know it was not the time or place he wanted, but I still think he had a good race and...outstanding season," Cougars Coach Rebecca Chaltry said.

Chaltry compliments the team on its season saying, "I feel like this has our best season yet with the awesome group of young athletes I had the privilege of coaching." She added that she "can't wait to see what next season brings," saying, "the group gave me a lot of joy, a lot of effort, and many, many laughs and smiles."

Gillett's Sylvia Hansen wasn't the only freshman from Oconto County to compete at the event, as Oconto's Josh Woller ran a 17:45.18 to finish 58th. Woller, one of the top frosh in the D3 field, gained valuable experience for future races.

Oconto Falls' Brody Schindel finished 109th with a time of 18:17.01. It was the junior's second straight appearance at the state competition having qualified as a member of 2016 Panther team.


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