Hatchet harriers wrap up season at D2 State Championships in Colby
For the Tomahawk Leader
COLBY – On a windy day on Saturday, Oct. 31, the Hatchet cross country team finished their season at the State Division 2 Championships at Colby High School in the second session of the day on their school grounds.
“Although the format was quite a bit different, and we didn’t get a chance to actually compete head-to-head against all the schools, we feel fortunate to have had this opportunity in a year filled with abnormalities to finish our season at the State level,” said head coach John Zuelsdorf.
The girls won their grouping of four teams and improved upon last year’s finish as they placed 8th of 12 teams, while senior Noah Buckwalter, an individual qualifier for the Hatchet boys, also improved some 20 places with his 45th place in the 114-runner D2 state field.
In the first race of session two, Tomahawk freshman Rachael Reilly put herself in a nice position early and worked her way into a top-ten finish (9th) in her session and placed 27th overall (13th in the team scoring) in a time of 20:30 over the 5000-meter course. Sophomore Greta Tjugum ran strong through her entire race, placing 13th in session two and 43rd overall (24th in the team scoring) in 21:08. Junior Kate Reilly was the next Hatchet to the finish tape with her 19th-place effort in session two (62nd overall/36th in the team scoring) in a time of 21:40. Sophomore Morgan Hansmann and junior Emily Lacina were the final scoring Hatchets, placing 22nd and 23rd in session two (73rd and 75th overall, 45th and 47th in the team scoring) in times of 22:08 and 22:10, respectively. Junior Macey Mann became an important displacer as she finished 25th in session two (85th overall and 56th in the team scoring) in a time of 22:25. Also getting great state-level experience in her first state championship race was junior Ava Dragosh (110th overall, 80th team) with a time of 23:47.
This was the Lady Hatchets’ second consecutive trip to State and 17th team appearance since 1993.
“We knew that we could only control what we were facing in session two, and that meant competing with Freedom,” Zuelsdorf stated. “Our girls’ team did just that, and in our session we were able to upend them in a tight race by one point and win our grouping. At that point it was a matter of sitting tight and waiting for all the results to come in. We were all pretty excited and felt confident that we would shake out solid in the overall standings. It was a bit surprising and frustrating when we learned that the schools from our section placed 8th, 9th, 10th and 12th. However, with the brutal midday winds, it should have come as no surprise!”
The Tomahawk boys were represented at State by senior Noah Buckwalter. In his final cross country race as a Hatchet, Noah was in the top ten in session two early on and sat 14th after two miles. His 17:45 clocking was good for a 15th-place finish in session two and 45th place overall in the 114-runner field.
“Overall, we are proud of the efforts our girls’ team and Noah and the way they represented themselves at Colby on Saturday,” Zuelsdorf said. “We came to compete and that they did! Our girls gained more valuable experience, which they can use to motivate them to the next level next year. They return their entire state competing squad! Noah and all our seniors will be missed, but a strong tradition will help us ‘reload’ more than ‘rebuild!’”