State-ranked Hatchet x-country makes it a sweep at Athens for second straight championship
By Jed Buelow
Tomahawk Leader Co-Editor, Sports, Nature Editor
There is a reason the Tomahawk co-ed cross country boys’ and girls’ team are currently both ranked in the top 10 in Division 2 in the state. They proved it again in Athens Thursday making it another clean sweep by the Hatchet speedsters.
The 6th ranked Lady Hatchets won their third straight consecutive invite (five of six on the year) at the 15-team Athens Invite held at Erbach Park. The #10 ranked boys’ team was also dominant in Blue Jay Country topping the field for a second straight week – their third 1st place finish of the season.
“We are in the ‘speeding up’ and ‘finishing’ phases of our season and so our training focus has been on leg speed, turnover, and our racing the last 20% of our race. For the second straight race the athletes are really responding,” stated Hatchet head coach John Zuesldorf. “With all the recent rain producing wet, slippery, soft, and muddy conditions the course was not
conducive to fast times. However, we still had nearly a third of our team run seasonal bests or PR (personal records) This is a real credit to their competitiveness as athletes and their ‘no excuses’ attitudes.”
A credit indeed, as for the second straight week Haley Voermans-Dean was turning heads and putting all of the state on notice as she won her second straight invite title while setting a new career best time – 19:41. And it wasn’t just Voermans-Dean’s spectacular run that led the Lady Hatchets to victory, as teammate Emily Lacina set a new personal record in 20:22 to finish in 2nd and Kate Reilly turned in a new personal best of 21:02 to finish in 11th place and join her teammates on the medal stand.
“To see Haley (Voermans-Dean) and Emily (Lacina) run career best times and go 1-2 was impressive,” Coach Z said. “We had concerns with state-ranked Auburndale and Gillett prior to the race, but that top finish by those two and placing all of our scorers in the top 20, left no doubt as to the team title,
Impressive runs by Meagan Berg (16th-21:36) and Macey Mann (19th-22:04) helped score the win for the victorious Hatchets. Other finishers helping Tomahawk stay ahead of state-ranked Auburndale and Gillett were: Greta Tjugum (31st-22:34-PR), Serena Reinke (46th), Neenah Fuste (48th), Leslie Vance (55th-24:01-PR), Gillian Buckwalter (58th), Ava Dragosh (60th-24:25-PR), Tiana Gerstenberger (63rd), and Autumn Peissig (65th). A total 121 athletes toed the line for the girls 5K race.
With the late addition of state-ranked Gillett to the field, the Hatchet boys had to step it up a notch to top the field for the team title, which they managed to do as a result of some outstanding performances. The 1-2 combination of Drew Bolder (4th-17:16) and Noah Buckwalter (5th- 17:19) along with teammate medalists Trey Baalke (13th-18:05) and Garron Albrent (14th-18:09) and top finishers Arden Ziert (16th-18:19) and Alex Norman (19th-18:26) enabled the Hatchets to take the team title.
“Our boys were able to place six in the top 20, led by the 4-5 combination of Drew (Bolder) and Noah (Buckwalter), to
fend off a tough Gillett team. Those are the kind of things we have to be able to continue to do if we are going to challenge for conference titles and advance in the tournaments,” Coach Z said. “It will be nice to race at home this next weekend at Edgewater. Our athletes will get a chance to prepare for the sectional race that we also host at the end of the month. The meet will bring in state ranked teams from Lakeland (Girls #4) and New London (Boys #6), so the opportunity to see what these teams have at this pre-tournament stage of the season will be informative.”
Also helping pace the Hatchets to victory, Jack Lacina set a personal record of 18:55 to finish in 27th place and followed across the finish line by Keaton Jed. Hunter Borchardt also set a personal record in 19:01 to finish 33rd in the field of 120 runners. Additional results from Athens: Hunter VanRyen (43rd), Matt Johnson (45th), Ethan Liebnitz (51st), Jacob Towle (53rd-20:17-PR), Brady Tjugum (54th), Reed Zedler (63rd), Taje Casey (76th), Henry Calhoun (85th), John Mark Hawley (98th), and Trey Miller (101st).
Top three team scores from Athens were: (girls) – Tomahawk-49, Auburndale-74, Gillett-95. (Boys) – Tomahawk-47, Gillett-71, Athens-80.
The Hatchets are back in action this Saturday, Oct. 12 as they host the 43rd annual Hatchet Invite at Edgewater Country Club. The public is invited to come out and cheer on the state-ranked Hatchets. Races begin at 10 a.m. and parking is available off County Highway A.