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 girls’ cross-country meet, tying their best finish ever, and Paul became the third member of her family and school to earn a girls’ individual state medal.
Cedar Grove-Belgium scored 83 points, trailing only champion Lourdes Academy’s 45 and well ahead of third-place Lake Country Lutheran’s 132.
Only the top two teams get to stand on the podium, and the Rockets knew they could do it. But it wasn’t easy.
“All the girls ran super-smart races,” said Cedar Grove-Belgium coach Les Paul, Lily’s father.
“We 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.”
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.
“Lily continued to be the strong leader that everyone depended on and stepped it up big time,” coach Paul said.
“She wanted that podium spot for the team, and a huge goal for her was to make the podium on her own, too.”
The Rockets’ 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).
“The girls ran well but didn’t know if it was well enough,” coach Paul said.
“The team entered the season believing it could place at state despite its youth, but there’s always that waiting game to see the finishes.
“When 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.”
The Rockets’ 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-Belgium’s latest in a long line of impressive cross-country seasons. The Rockets have qualified for the girls’ state meet seven of the past eight seasons, finishing second three times.
“The 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,” coach Paul said.
“We are a program that does not work with hoping for excellence. We expect super-hard practice efforts and to win.”
Random Lake senior Delaney Sinnen won the Division 3 individual title in 14:22.5.
Merritt leads CG-Belgium boys
Peter Merritt, Cedar Grove-Belgium’s lone qualifier for the boys’ 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.
“Peter had a spectacular day,” coach Paul said. “He took the last three weeks of practice to get out fast and had a tremendous finish as a sophomore.
“He demonstrated great practice effort and leadership.”
Darlington’s Tyson Miehe won the Division 3 boys’ title in 15:57.49.
Next season, coach Paul expects continued improvement for the Rockets.
“The goals are set for higher achievements next year for teams and individuals,” he said.
“I think the kids are awesome, and I can’t thank them and their parents enough for believing in me and my program.”
Image Information: MEMBERS OF THE Cedar Grove-Belgium girls’ 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