2005 I-S cross country team celebrates anniversary
By Holly Neumann
Iola-Scandinavia High School’s girls’ cross country team from 2005 recently reunited to celebrate the 10-year anniversary of winning a Division 3 state championship.
Team members included Kali Reierson, Elizabeth Nelson, Brooke Anderson, Ashley Johnson, Elizabeth Hoffman, Emily Wiersma and Katelyn Hoffman. Hillary Thompson was the state alternate, while Lucy Bossert, Catelin Fischer and Calan Nelson also contributed to the title.
Jon Novak coached the team.
“This team was special because of their camaraderie,” he said. “It didn’t matter if you were a senior or a freshman, you were a part of the goal of becoming the second state championship team in Iola-Scandinavia history.”
According to Novak, the girls took great pride in winning, but at the same time had fun.
“It seemed like they always had smiles on their faces,” he said.
The women agree that they did have a lot of fun together.
“We had team meals and other activities together,” Elizabeth (Hoffman) Stevens said.
“We all got along so well,” added Ashley (Johnson) Hintz. “We were more than teammates. We were friends.”
The group shared a few laughs recalling some of their fondest memories.
“After we lost the conference championship to Weyauwega, we wore Band-Aids on a certain finger at the sectional meet,” Stevens said. “We won that meet and we sent a picture of us with our Band-Aids on to Weyauwega’s coach.”
Elizabeth Nelson recalled going out for a run with her teammates.
“Kali Reierson and I thought we were going to take a short cut on an 8-mile route and the other girls let us go because we were the freshman,” she said. “It turned into being like a 12-mile run.”
All women agree that Novak was inspirational in all they achieved.
“One thing about Mr. Novak was it didn’t matter if you were the best runner or the last runner on the team or the race, he was always pushing you,” Calan Nelson said. “He would be up front coaching the top girls and then he’d be running back to push the rest of us.”
Nelson said she was never a top runner, but Novak always made her feel like one.
“He was always there for you no matter what,” Liz Nelson said. “He made each and every one of us want to be the best and do our best.”
So what did winning the state title mean to them?
“It was exciting to be so successful together,” Elizabeth Nelson said. “It was such a whirlwind of emotions. After the race, I remember we felt just like we had failed and that there was no chance of winning. Then all of the sudden, the results were posted and there we were No. 1. It was one truly a moment of joy for every one of us.”
For Novak, there was a sense of accomplishment.
“It was easy to dream about that day, but it took a special group of athletes to live and fulfill the dream,” he said. “The best part of winning the title was the journey to the top and sharing this with parents and supporters. The team now understood why we had 6 a.m. practices as well as Saturday runs.”
Novak said the team members were dedicated to running and their education.
“Their dedication was evident from their studies because as a team, they maintained a 3.8 grade-point average on a 4.0 scale,” he said. “They worked hard.”
“It was a wonderful experience,” Elizabeth Nelson said. “Working hard and dedication pay off.”