Paul-led CG-Belgium girls uphold tradition by racing to 2nd place in Division 3
Lily Paul and her teammates proudly stood on the medals stand after making Cedar Grove-Belgium High School history last Saturday in Wisconsin Rapids.
The Lady Rockets took second in the WIAA Division 3 state girlsâ€™ cross-country meet, tying their best finish ever, and Paul became the third member of her family and school to earn a girlsâ€™ individual state medal.
Cedar Grove-Belgium scored 83 points, trailing only champion Lourdes Academyâ€™s 45 and well ahead of third-place Lake Country Lutheranâ€™s 132.
Only the top two teams get to stand on the podium, and the Rockets knew they could do it. But it wasnâ€™t easy.
â€śAll the girls ran super-smart races,â€ť said Cedar Grove-Belgium coach Les Paul, Lilyâ€™s father.
â€śWe tend to run from behind, and this race was no different. Practically the whole group had to run down a couple of dozen runners after they passed the 800-meter mark.â€ť
Paul, a junior, made a huge push at the end to place third among runners on full teams with a 4,000-meter time of 15 minutes, 31.8 seconds. She was ninth overall among 151 runners in the race at The Ridges Golf Course.
â€śLily continued to be the strong leader that everyone depended on and stepped it up big time,â€ť coach Paul said.
â€śShe wanted that podium spot for the team, and a huge goal for her was to make the podium on her own, too.â€ť
The Rocketsâ€™ other scoring finishers were senior Molly Ison (16:07.9) in 12th (24th overall), freshman Sydni Loose (16:10.3) in 14th (28th), freshman Emily Sass (16:24.0) in 21st (40th) and freshman Elysia Hoopman (16:40.1) in 33rd (59th).
â€śThe girls ran well but didnâ€™t know if it was well enough,â€ť coach Paul said.
â€śThe team entered the season believing it could place at state despite its youth, but thereâ€™s always that waiting game to see the finishes.
â€śWhen they were standing there, waiting for the results to pop up on the screen, they scrolled from the bottom up, and it was nerve-racking. They were so glad to see it come after believing that they could do it.â€ť
The Rocketsâ€™ two other runners also turned in solid performances. Senior Jericho Duenk (16:50.9) was 39th (68th) and freshman Maggie Turchinski (17:05.6) was 49th (80th).
Lily Paul joins her older sisters, Ali and Marina, as state medalists.
The runner-up team finish is the Cedar Grove-Belgiumâ€™s latest in a long line of impressive cross-country seasons. The Rockets have qualified for the girlsâ€™ state meet seven of the past eight seasons, finishing second three times.
â€śThe season went as planned, although we had some meets that we were disappointed with our overall times and started to doubt if we had the right plan,â€ť coach Paul said.
â€śWe are a program that does not work with hoping for excellence. We expect super-hard practice efforts and to win.â€ť
Random Lake senior Delaney Sinnen won the Division 3 individual title in 14:22.5.
Merritt leads CG-Belgium boys
Peter Merritt, Cedar Grove-Belgiumâ€™s lone qualifier for the boysâ€™ state race, finished 20th with a 5,000-meter time of 17:03.2. He was the fifth-fastest sophomore in a field of 151 runners.
â€śPeter had a spectacular day,â€ť coach Paul said. â€śHe took the last three weeks of practice to get out fast and had a tremendous finish as a sophomore.
â€śHe demonstrated great practice effort and leadership.â€ť
Darlingtonâ€™s Tyson Miehe won the Division 3 boysâ€™ title in 15:57.49.
Next season, coach Paul expects continued improvement for the Rockets.
â€śThe goals are set for higher achievements next year for teams and individuals,â€ť he said.
â€śI think the kids are awesome, and I canâ€™t thank them and their parents enough for believing in me and my program.â€ť
Image Information: MEMBERS OF THE Cedar Grove-Belgium girlsâ€™ cross-country team posed proudly with the runner-up trophy they received at the WIAA Division 3 state meet last Saturday. From left are Maggie Turchinski, Elysia Hoopman, Sydni Loose, Lily Paul, Molly Ison, Emily Sass and Jericho Duenk. Photo courtesy of Les Paul