PHS, HG runners aim for strong state performances

by Greg Ceilley of The Review staff

ERIC DVORACHEK of Howards Grove, shown in sectional action last Saturday, will compete in his second straight state cross country meet Saturday. — Review photo by Greg Ceilley ERIC DVORACHEK of Howards Grove, shown in sectional action last Saturday, will compete in his second straight state cross country meet Saturday. — Review photo by Greg Ceilley Plymouth’s and Howards Grove’s state cross country competitors are aiming for strong showings in Saturday’s Division 2 and 3 meets, respectively.

Senior Brooke Koehn junior Sophie Bolich of PHS will compete in the girls Division 2 race and PHS junior Ian McConnaha will run in the D-2 boys meet. Koehn and Bolich ran in last year’s D-2 state meet in which their Panther team finished eighth.

The HGHS girls team will compete in the D-3 meet. The squad includes seniors Kara Bell and Morgan Edge, juniors Noelle Eschen and Zyta Mueller, and sophomores Ashley Reinemann, Katie Guse and Melissa Oxtoby.

HGHS senior Eric Dvorachek will make his second straight appearance in the D-3 boys race.

“We have had a good first couple of days of practice this week. We are trying to set all three runners for a season-best race on Saturday,” said Panther head coach Jay Grosshuesch.

“They all ran real well at sectionals [last Saturday], so they definitely have some positive momentum going into the state meet. One thing we want them to do is to get out strong. With a large and competitive field, we don’t want them to get trapped in at the first tight turn,” said Grosshuesch.

“The goals we have for the runners is to represent the PHS cross country team well and to run their best race of the season. Sophie and Brooke are hoping to finish in the top 10 of all runners and Ian is shooting for a top-25 finish.

“State medalists are the top- 10 runners in each race. We think that these goals are realistic for these runners but it will definitely be a challenge,” said the PHS coach.

Grosshuesch thinks the previous state experience will help Bolich and Koehn, and that the strong competition PHS faced during the season will benefit all three state competitors.

“The girls have the advantage of having run at state before but all three runners have run against the top Division 1 teams in the state in meets we were in at Green Bay, Manitowoc and Port Washington, so they should not be intimidated by the strong field,” he said.

“We are looking forward to seeing what Sophie, Brooke and Ian can do as they will be fully rested and racing against the best in the state. All three have earned this opportunity with hard work, both during the season and over the summer.”

“My goal for the Tiger girls team is a top-10 finish and Eric a top-20,” said HGHS head coach Gary Kalk.

“Medaling will be a challenge but certainly not unrealistic. It will take a career-best effort to get to the medal stand. The best runners in the state will be competing. We’re thrilled to be considered among the best.

Kalk thinks Dvorachek’s 2013 state experience will help him. Dvorachek finished 44th last year.

“Eric will feel much more comfortable at state this year. He’s going to be looking at where he can attack more and begin to make his move amongst the lead pack. Experience is invaluable,” Kalk noted.

“For the most part, the Tigers are healthy. Like most teams, however, we’ve had some nagging injuries and some dead legs at times.

“At this point in the season, our mileage is really creeping up. Senior captain Morgan Edge has been dealing with a reoccurring achilles issue which has not gone away. It severely impacted her at sectionals [last Saturday], so we’re going to hope for the best come this weekend,” Kalk said.

The Tiger coach feels defending champion Oshkosh Lourdes, Westby and Aquinas (La Crosse) are the D-3 girls title favorites.

The state meet will be held at the Ridges Golf Course in Wisconsin Rapids. The schedule for the PHS and HGHS runners includes: D-3 – boys, 12:10 p.m. and girls, 2:10 p.m.; and D-3 – boys, 11:30 a.m. and girls, 1:30 p.m.

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