Boys XC team headed to state

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MTT News Desk's picture
By: 
Rob Reischel
Andrew Pulmb and Middleton’s boys cross country team surprised many by qualifying for the WIAA Division 1 state meet./Times-Tribune photo by Mary Langenfeld

 

Isaac Mezera heard the chatter.

But even Middleton’s boys cross country coach had a hard believing the noise.

From the start of the season, the Cardinals’ young group talked about making it to the WIAA Division 1 state meet. But Mezera, who’s been around the block a time or two, knew that could be a pipe dream.

“They were saying they were going to make it to state from early on in the season, but I kind of figured it would be a rebuilding year,” Mezera said. “But they worked really hard all season long.”

And last Saturday, it paid off in spades.

Middleton finished in a tie for second place with Baraboo at the DeForest Sectional. But the Cardinals won the tiebreaker because their sixth runner bested the Thunderbirds’ No. 6 runner.

That sent Middleton to state for the first time since 2010. It also marked the first time since 2002 that the Cardinals will send their boys and girls teams to state in the same year.

The boys race will take place Saturday at 2:25 p.m. at Ridges Golf Course in Wisconsin Rapids.

“From the get go I knew this year could be something special if that’s what we made of it,” said Middleton freshman Gus Newcomb, the Cardinals’ No. 1 runner. “I was very surprised and overwhelmed with happiness because the past few days I had been under the weather. But we kept a positive attitude the whole way through and made it happen.”

It certainly wasn’t easy.

Madison West rolled to the team title with 56 points. Middleton and Baraboo then tied for second at the 12-team sectional with 110 points.

The tiebreaker goes to the faster No. 6 runner, which was good news for Middleton. Cardinals’ senior Willie Myrland was 46th overall and edged Baraboo’s Joe Brognano, who was 50th.

“We told the guys before they raced that every point was going to count,” Mezera said. “Usually the sixth runner doesn't count for a whole lot, but Willie's nine-second lead over Baraboo’s sixth runner made all of the difference.

“After our performance at conference, we thought if we put together another good week we could potentially qualify. To have it come down to the sixth runner was quite dramatic.”

Newcomb made a big difference himself.

The Cardinals’ standout freshman battled through an illness and finished 10th overall, completing the 5,000-meter course in 17 minutes, 4 seconds.

But Newcomb had plenty of help.

Sophomore David Marrone ran a terrific race, finishing 12th overall in 17:13. Junior Andrew Plumb was 21st (17:35), sophomore Christian Lindblom was 32nd (17:52) and junior Hayden Johnston was 35th (17:54).

“David Marrone ran perhaps the best race of his young career, finishing only two spots behind Gus,” Mezera said. “Andrew Plumb ran really tough too.  

“Hayden Johnston was not feeling well, but managed to finish fifth for us. With Hayden not feeling well, we needed someone to step up. Christian Lindblom, new to the varsity team after his performance at conference, did just that, finishing fourth for us and helping secure the state berth. Willie Myrland also got to play the hero.”

Now, the Cardinals turn their attention to state, where truthfully anything is a bonus.

“Obviously our sights were set on making the state meet as a team,” Newcomb said. “But we'll come very prepared and be ready to race.

“We are also looking to get experience at state this year for the young guys such as myself for next season when we'll be looking to place real high up.”

Mezera agreed, noting that whatever happens now is gravy.

“We thought this team had the potential to surprise, and they sure did,” Mezera said. “The coaching staff couldn't be happier to be taking our whole cross country family up to state to compete.”

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