Cross country: Lady Hatchets, Noah Buckwalter punch tickets to State
For the Tomahawk Leader
TOMAHAWK – On Saturday, Oct. 24, Tomahawk hosted the WIAA Division 2 Sectional cross country meet at Edgewater Country Club. The top two teams and top five individuals from non-qualifying teams moved on to the D2 State Meet in Colby the following weekend.
“I think the different format, coupled with the challenges that the weather threw at us late this week presented several challenges to the athletes going into the meet,” said head coach John Zuelsdorf. “Having to qualify and then run basically a quadrangular to determine the top two advancers was a whole ‘new’ ballgame with only the top tier teams at the Sectional meet. Throw in three inches of sloppy wet snow and some freezing temps on race day and the potential for excuses existed. The course owners at Edgewater did an awesome job getting the race course ready, along with several parents with shovels! By race time the course was set for the teams with the only major challenge overcoming the cooler temps.”
In the first race of the day, the lady Hatchets placed all their scorers in the top 15 team scoring places to finish second overall to the Irish from Freedom. Freedom scored 40, Tomahawk-49, Xavier-52, and Amherst-71.
Not panicking and recovering quickly from a fall at the start, freshman Rachael Reilly placed in the top ten and in the 6th scoring position in 20:23 for the top Hatchet finish. Sophomore Greta Tjugum, junior Macey Mann, and junior Emily Lacina kept a tight Hatchet pack and placed 15th/16th/18th overall (in the 8th/9th/11th scoring positions in 20:58/21:03/21:07), and junior Kate Reilly sealed the state qualifying effort for Tomahawk with her 23rd -21:28 (15th scoring position) effort. Sophomore Morgan Hansmann (21:58-29th overall/20th scoring position) and junior Ava Dragosh (23:25-37th/27th scoring position) rounded out the efforts of the state-bound Hatchets.
This will be the Hatchets’ second state appearance in a row and 28th team appearance since 1993 (Girls-17, Boys-11).
In the final event of the Sectional, Tomahawk senior Noah Buckwalter punched his ticket to State for the second year in a row with his 4th-place overall effort (3rd place individual qualifier) in a time of 16:48.
Noah teamed with Drew Bolder (sr., 21st overall, 14th scoring position in 17:45), Alex Norman (sr., 26th/18th in 18:12), Owen Dickrell (fr., 29th/20th in 18:24), Hunter Borchardt (sr., 30th/21st in 18:24-PR), Arden Ziert (jr., 32nd/23rd 18:26), and Ethan Liebnitz (sr., 33rd/24th 18:31-PR) to place 3rd overall (one spot short of advancing to State).
“At this level it’s hard to single out one athlete on the girls’ team, but they all did their part in making the outcome come out the way they had hoped,” Zuelsdorf stated. “The experience gained last year by many of the athletes was a key factor down the stretch in this race. The same holds true for Noah, and you could see it in his approach throughout the race. He kept the top pack close and waited for the right opportunity to make his move, and when it presented itself he was ready.”
Team scores were Freedom-31, Little Chute-33, Tomahawk-75, and Wittenberg-102.
Details of the Division 2 State cross country meet in Colby will be released soon by the WIAA, Zuelsdorf said. The top twelve teams and 30 individuals qualified to compete in this year’s event.
“Our coaching staff is very proud of all of the athletes and their efforts this weekend and all season,” Zuelsdorf said. “To have the opportunity to compete at State, in a season like they just experienced with all the changes due to the pandemic, is remarkable and going to be memorable!”