Tomahawk cross country dominates Hatchet Invite at Edgewater Saturday
By Jed Buelow
Tomahawk Leader Co-Editor, Sports, Nature Editor
Not even a gusty wind blowing sheets of snow sideways at times could slow the Hatchet cross-country team Saturday at Edgewater Country Club, as Tomahawk outpaced the field of 12-teams at the Hatchet Invite to win three of four races and finish runner-up in the other.
“It was a fun day to be a Hatchet cross-country runner as evidenced with the number of improvements, but also anyone could see our boys and girls came ready to race,” stated Hatchet head coach John Zuelsdorf after both the girls and boys varsity teams made it a sweep taking the top spots at Edgewater. “This is the time of the year that you have to have a purpose and a WHY? Our athletes are realizing that and it showed!”
The varsity boys were dominant in their win, while the girls upended 4th ranked Lakeland by the narrowest of margins. Nineteen Hatchet runners had either personal best times or seasonal best efforts despite the weather.
“The conditions that the athletes ran in on Saturday were less than ideal, especially the wind and cold, but throw in the snowflakes and it was down-right challenging both physically and mentally. As a staff, we were amazed to see how many of our athletes were able to run their best times of their career or season,” Coach Z stated.
The Lady Hatchets packed all of their scoring runners in the top eleven to offset the 1-3-5 finish by the T- Birds en route to defending their home field advantage. Senior Haley Voermans-Dean, ran a solid last 1000 meters propelling her to another career best time of 19:40 as she finished 2nd overall. Joining Haley on the podium were Emily Lacina (4th-20:11-PR), Kate Reilly (6th-20:31-PR), Macey Mann (10th-21:01), and Meagan Berg (11th- 21:04). Freshmen Greta Tjugum (24th-22:08-SB) and Serena Reinke (31st-22:31-SB) also turned in seasonal best performances for the 5K distance. Seventy runners competed in the varsity event.
Currently, the ladies have defeated 118 teams, while only falling to two (winning pct. of .983) on the season. Top three team scores at the Hatchet Invite were: Tomahawk-33, Lakeland-36, Mosinee-101.
“With the level of competition at our event, we were pleased with how the athletes rose to the next level and it showed in the results. On the girl’s side, It has been quite some time (2014) since our girls topped the T-Birds in competition,” coach Z said. “These are two pretty even teams as evidenced by the three point final tally. Our girls we able to execute their pre-race strategy as planned, we knew it would be close. It took a collective effort by each of our scorers to make this a reality. We could give praise for each at length, but it would fill the column!”
Just as impressive as the Lady Hatchets, the boys’ team also turned in a dominant performance at Edgewater. Hatchet junior Noah Buckwalter had an outstanding last 400 meters and a solid finishing kick to outdistance the competition as he won his first individual invitational title in a career best time of 17 minutes flat. Drew Bolder (3rd-17:15), Trey Baalke (8th-17:47-PR), Arden Ziert (14th-18:06) joined Noah as medalists.
Helping propel Tomahawk to the varsity title in the 70 plus runner field were Garron Albrent (16th-18:10), Alex Norman (26th-18:26) and Jack Lacina (30th-18:43-PR). The win leaves the boys with a current regular season record of 119-9 (winning pct. of .930) going into tournament play next weekend. Top three team scores were: Tomahawk-43, Lakeland-75, New London-119.
“I knew when Noah (Buckwalter) took the last corner even with Drew (Bolder) and Masayesava (Lakeland) that with his leg speed he was in the mix to win it, and he wasn’t to be denied. He had his best finishing kick of the season and another career best effort in the process of 17-flat,” coach Z said in adding they are proud of the team and it will be an exciting tournament season in the next few weeks.
In the last race of the day the Hatchet JV girls wrapped up a solid meet for Tomahawk as they cruised to the JV team title by placing all their scoring athletes in the top 12. They were led by medalists Geena Wanta (4th-23:10-PR), Neenah Fuste (5th-23:11-PR), and Ava Dragosh (6th-23:17-PR). Rounding out the scoring for the girls were: Gillian Buckwalter (11th-24:04), Leslie Vance (12th-24:10), Autumn Peissig (26th-25:48), and Yumo Zhang (37th-28:24). In their runner-up finish, the JV boys were led by medalists Keaton Jed (5th-18:35), Hunter Borchardt (6th- 18:47-PR), Ethan Liebnitz (9th-19:17-PR), and Brady Tjugum (10th-19:23-SB). Other JV Hatchet finishers were: Hunter VanRyen (11th-19:27), Jacob Towle (15th-19:39-PR), Matt Johnson (17th-19:47-SB), Reed Zedler (18th-19:48-PR), Taje Casey (35th-21:15-SB), Henry Calhoun (46th-22:06), Trey Miller (47th-22:10- PR), and John Mark Hawley (56th-23:35).
The Hatchet co-ed cross-country team will look to keep their collective foot on the gas this Saturday, Oct. 19 as they travel to Antigo and Gartzke Flowage Bike and Ski Trails for the Great Northern Championships. The meet gets started at 11 a.m.