Area Runners Excel at State MeetsIssue Date: November 5, 2020
Gillett Girls/Hanson Take Fourth at D3 State Meet
Things were a little different this year, but two of the greatest Gillett cross country runners ever were given one last chance to put on a black and red uniform and run their final high school races Saturday.
Derek Hanson and Sylvia Hansen each competed at the state cross country meet in West Salem, and they went out on high notes.
Normally, when you finish the state cross country race, you know exactly where you stand. This year, things were broken up into heats, so when Gillett senior Derek Hanson finished the race, he had to wait and see.
Hanson had won his heat with a time of 16 minutes, 44.37 seconds and Gillett coach Bill DeJung said after the race he was hoping Hanson could sneak into the top 10. With spots four through 10 separated by just six seconds, it turns out Hanson's time was good enough for fourth in the entire Division III field.
"He did what he had to do to today win this race," DeJung said. "He ran a beautiful race again."
The fourth-place finish wraps up a decorated career for Hanson, including three trips to state. His first time, he was a sophomore and he finished 43rd in the field with a time of 17 minutes, 28.1 seconds. Last year, he finished 48th with a time of 17:31.7, but this year, his improvement was noticeable, cutting over 47 seconds off his time.
Hanson's Gillett teammate Evan Peterson, a sophomore, put up a time of 17 minutes, 46.36 seconds to finish 41st in the 113-runner field.
The Gillett girls also posted a strong performance, with Sylvia Hansen running her final race and capturing her highest finish since her freshman year.
Hansen finished 20th in the field of 112 runners with a time of 20 minutes, 12.5 seconds. It was her fourth time at state and her best finish since her freshman year, when she finished third in the field. As a sophomore she was 27th and last year she took 32nd. She cut 40 seconds off of last year's time to go out with a bang in 2020.
The Gillett girls competed as a team Saturday, taking fourth of 12 teams. After Hansen, junior Ryann Wagner was 37th (20:52.05), sophomore Carleigh Kaczmarek took 47th (21:13.86), junior Angela Mosconi was 74th (22:22.98), sophomore Megan Wagner was 79th (22:33.36), junior Alaina Herzog was 98th (23:38.14) and sophomore Laney Debauch was 104th (24:17.97).
DeJung said he thought off the top of his head that three of the runners had put up season bests on the year and "every one of them ran as well or better than they did at sectionals," he said, calling a fourth-place finish at state "fantastic."
All in all, with so many schools not participating in athletics this fall and plenty of events being canceled across the state, it was just good to see the Gillett seniors get to run in their final race, and to be able to participate at state.
"We're just happy to be here and be able to compete," DeJung said after the race. "We're ecstatic."
Bulldogs Lund/Smith Have Strong Showing at D2 State Meet
Peshtigo can be proud of its student-athletes' performance at Division II cross country state on Saturday.
Peshtigo junior Sydney Lund and senior Caleb Smith competed at the state event, with Lund taking 24th in the 114-runner field with a time of 20 minutes, 27.77 seconds. Smith was 77th of 113 with a time of 18 minutes, 22.74 seconds.
For Lund and Smith, it was a redemption year. Lund made state as a freshman, taking 50th with a time of 20:35.5, but she missed state last year despite a strong time of 20:11.3 at sectionals in Tomahawk.
This year, she finished fourth in Tomahawk with a time of 20:07.9.
Making it back and improving by 26 places was "a testament to her growth as a runner and strength as a competitor," Peshtigo coach Keith Nault said.
For Smith, it was his first year at state. Last year, he battled injuries all year, but he wasn't able to get out of sectionals with a time of 18:09.5.
He spent this year rehabbing that injury and fixing his stride to avoid future injuries.
"Caleb is a very dedicated runner and as a team we were all very happy to have him reach his goal of running at State," Nault said.
Nault was happy to see his two runners at state, calling it a successful season.
"Our goal when we start each season is to have runners compete at the state meet," he said.
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