If this year’s WIAA State Cross Country Meet is any indication, the Central Wisconsin Conference is loaded with talented runners, especially on the girls’ side.
Not only did Marion’s Delaney Greene-Gretzinger win the girls’ Division 3 race Nov. 1 at The Ridges Golf Course in Wisconsin Rapids, three other CWC runners – Amherst’s Alyssa Niggemann and Iola-Scandinavia’s Leighten Fischer and Erika Kisting – placed in the top 20.
All four runners will be back next year, as Greene-Gretzinger and Fischer are sophomores, Niggemann a junior and Kisting a freshman. Niggemann placed eighth in her third trip to state with a time of 19:53, while Fischer, making her second trip, placed 19th and Kisting finished 20th with times of 20:22.
Iola-Scandinavia’s Chase Przybylski capped his senior season and first trip to state by placing 39th in the boys’ Division 3 race in 17:27.
Clintonville seniors Allison Johnson and Jessica Petruzates finished 16th and 28th, respectively, in the girls’ Division 2 race and turned in times of 19:31 and 19:56, while Hortonville sophomore Hannah Lohrenz and senior Emma Rafuse placed seventh and 14th, respectively, in the girls’ Division 1 race with times of 18:33 and 19:11.
Greene-Gretzinger, running in her first state meet, came into her race seeded third and finished more than six seconds ahead of runner-up Jennifer Lichter of La Crosse Aquinas. She crossed the finish line in 19:05, setting a personal-best time.
“I’m just really surprised,” Greene-Gretzinger said. “It doesn’t feel real.”
Turns out all she needed was a little self-determination.
“When we started, I was back so far and I was wondering how I could get up there,” Greene-Gretzinger said. “I started getting around them and I really used the hills.
“I was just really determined,” she added. “I thought, ‘I can do this. It’s right in front of me. It’s not even 100 meters away.'”
Greene-Gretzinger was one of 150 runners in the girls’ Division 3 race, which made it a lot different than the courses she normally runs on.
“It’s a lot louder, but the crowd just makes you go all that much faster,” she said.
Kisting has had plenty of success in her first season of high school cross country and can usually be found on the course alongside Fischer, who placed 29th at state last year as a freshman.
“She tells me strategies to use and ways to run,” Kisting said. “It’s been very helpful. I was really nervous at the start, but everyone said, ‘It’s OK, just enjoy it out there.’ I wanted to start strong because there were a lot of people and keep that pace through the whole thing.”
• Greene-Gretzinger, Niggemann, Fischer and Kisting weren’t the only CWC runners to have a successful day. Rosholt, which qualified its girls’ team, finished sixth overall.
• Races were delayed one hour due to frost on the course, as overnight temperatures in the Wisconsin Rapids area dipped into the teens.
• Madison West, Wisconsin Lutheran and Darlington won boys’ championships in divisions 1-3, respectively, while Eau Claire Memorial, Green Bay Notre Dame and Lourdes Academy won titles on the girls’ side in each division.
• Besides Greene-Gretzinger, other individual champions were Olin Hacker of Madison West (boys’ Division 1), Ben Eidenschink of Nekoosa/Port Edwards (boys’ Division 2), Kevin Koski of Chequamegon (boys’ Division 3), Annie Frisbie of River Falls (girls’ Division 1) and Amy Davis of Madison Edgewood (girls’ Division 2).