CG-Belgium girls’ team lives up to reputation by racing to 3rd in Div. 3 meet
Although it was the biggest challenge of the season, the Rockets treated it like any other meet.
In the process, they ran faster than they ever have.
Members of the Cedar Grove-Belgium girls’ cross-country team averaged a 4,000-meter time of 16 minutes, 17 seconds at last Saturday’s WIAA Division 3 state meet, an all-time best for a program that has established itself as one of the finest in Wisconsin.
The Rockets scored 123 points, good for third place out of 16 teams. They trailed only champion Spring Valley (108 points) and Darlington (110).
“They worked all season long for this day. We planned out the workouts, we planned out the meets, we visualized running really good races, and it turned out great,” Cedar Grove-Belgium coach Les Paul said.
“We knew going in that there would be no more than a dozen points or so between the top three teams. Third place was a great finish.”
As she has throughout the season, senior Tammi Del Ponte led the Rockets in a 150-runner field at Ridges Golf Course in Wisconsin Rapids. She placed 10th among runners on complete teams and 16th overall with a personal-best time of 15:39.31.
Cedar Grove-Belgium’s other scoring finishes were sophomore Lily Paul in 13th (22nd overall) at 15:51.83, junior Molly Ison in 16th (30th) at 16:00.43, junior Jericho Duenk in 37th (67th) at 16:53.1 and senior Chloe Paul in 47th (80th) at 17:00.81.
Also for the Rockets, senior Maria Schueller finished 68th (108th) in 17:32.01 and junior Kiran Sehgal was 107th (147th) in 18:59.58.
Ladysmith’s Andrea Ostenso won the race in 14:34.59.
“We had excellent efforts from every runner, not one bad race among the entire seven girls,” coach Paul said. “We ended up having four personal records.”
Last year, Cedar Grove-Belgium placed fourth in the state meet.
Pack running again paved the way to the Rockets’ success. The time gap between their first and fifth runners was only 1:21.
Coach Paul said his team entered the meet with a focused but relaxed attitude.
“The girls and I decided to treat it like every other meet. They did their normal routine, and it went well,” he said.
“Our seniors did a great job. Tammi finished with her best time. She is the model of progressive training and will be missed.
“Chloe had a tremendous race and has taught so many of the girls how to race. Her leadership is going to be hard to replace.
“Maria ran another personal record and demonstrated that if you embrace the love of running, you can accomplish much. She was outstanding this season.”
Despite losing several seniors, the Rockets are already poised to reload.
“We will return a good group of girls next year,” coach Paul said.
“Lily and Molly ran great together all season and will get to go after it again. Jericho will miss her running partner, Chloe, but can surely make the next step.
“Kiran had a personal-record day and can continue to drop her times.”
Although reaching the state level has become a habit for the Rockets in recent years, it’s still special.
“We don’t take lightly the opportunity to compete at the state meet,” coach Paul said. “Some think it is easy to accomplish, but these girls and the teams that have preceded them have worked really hard.
“We are very grateful and proud that we get to represent our school and experience this awesome event.”
Image Inforamation: SENIOR TAMMI DEL PONTE capped her high school cross-country career by leading the Cedar Grove-Belgium girls’ team to third place in the WIAA Division 3 state meet. Photo courtesy of Les Paul