Fourth run to state

The Cameron girls will return to the State Cross Country Championships via a sectional championship after advancing with a second place sectional finish in 2017. The Comets also advanced to state in 2013 and 2014. The 2018 state run will be held this Saturday, Oct. 27, at Wisconsin Rapids. Pictured are: (from left) Hannah Gillett, Hannah Zimmerman, Mady Robel, Brittany Breed, Sydney Lucas, Tori Gerber, Aurora Felonk, Taylor Severt, Cali Romsos and Izzy Thompson.

Cameron’s cross country program had a terrific showing at the Div. 3 South Shore Sectional held Saturday, Oct. 20, with the Comet girls winning the team championship and Josh Halverson also moving on to the state run via a fourth place finish.

Halverson and the Cameron girls will next run at the WIAA State Cross County Championships on Saturday, Oct. 27, at Ridges Golf Course in Wisconsin Rapids.

Running in tough conditions at Northern Pines Golf Course, the Comet girls won their sectional title in convincing fashion. Cameron scored 77 points to finish ahead of Phillips and Hurley, both at 105. Phillips won a tiebreaker to advance to state over Hurley.

“We again had challenging conditions,” Cameron coach David Gerber said. “The temperature at race time was 34 degrees and a 15 mile-per-hour north wind made it feel like 23 degrees.

“We also had the worst lane to start the race. We were in lane 22 out of 22 lanes. We started the farthest to right of all the teams. The first turn was a left turn, so not only did we have a little farther to run but had to cross through the other 21 teams. Although the coaches were concerned about those details, the runners didn’t seem affected. Every girl ran the course faster than they had just 9 days earlier, when the conditions were better, and four of the seven boys had faster times.”

Coach Gerber credited the girls’ team win to a strong finish.

“The girls were in third place at the 1-mile mark. Phillips was 12 points ahead of us and Hurley was five points ahead. At the 2-mile mark, we were ahead of Hurley and five behind Phillips. We finished the race 28 points ahead of both Phillips and Hurley.

“The girls really ran away with the race in the last mile. As the other teams were wearing down under the tough conditions, our girls increased their pace. Our depth really showed, as we had all seven of our runners across the finish line before Hurley or Phillips had four runners finish the race.”

Flambeau senior Rachel Lawton won the individual title with a time of 19:33, clearing the field by more than a minute. Flambeau freshman Kristen Lawton was second in 20:43.

“Aurora Felonk led our team with a sixth place overall finish,” Gerber said. “Completing the course in 21:12, this was 36 seconds faster than she ran it just 9 days earlier. Just like last season, Aurora saved her best race of the year for the sectionals.”

Senior Tori Gerber was the next Comet across the line, finishing 16th in 22:21.

“Tori has been so consistent all season,” the coach said. “She’s the only runner on the team who hasn’t had a down race all season. She has really done a nice job leading this young team.”

Three freshmen came across next for Cameron: Taylor Severt (17th in a field of 98), Cali Romsos (19th) and Mady Rodel (22nd).

“I was worried about the event being too big for these freshmen,” Gerber said. “I knew they were feeling pressure and were nervous, but when the gun went off, they just got out there and ran like they always do.

“Senior Sydney Lucas placed 33rd for us. She has been one of our top runners for 4 years. She really showed a lot of heart in this race. She was physically hurting the last mile, but she kept passing other runners.”

Freshmen Brittany Breed finished 36th for Cameron.

“Brittany is enjoying a lot of success this season,” Gerber said. “In middle school she wasn’t one of the top runners, but she put a lot of miles in this summer. She completed a couple of half-marathons over the summer. The hard work is paying off for her.”

In the boys’ race, Halverson posted a time of 17:32 to finish fourth. The sophomore finished behind three juniors, including sectional champion Matthew Marcinske of Birchwood (17:01).

“Josh ran a strong race from start to finish,” Gerber said. “At the 1-mile mark, he was in fourth place and running with the lead pack. It was a very fast pace. We were worried that he might be pushing too hard early and not be able to hold that pace. He stayed strong the whole race, finishing in fourth place and earning his second trip to the state tournament.

“Josh outran four runners who had finished ahead of him at races earlier this season. With the pressure on, he was able to put together his best race of the season. He’s a competitor; it doesn’t surprise me he stepped up.”

Grantsburg won the team title with a score of 67, while second place Unity advanced with a 76. Cameron finished in the middle of the pack in seventh place.

At the sectional, the top five runners not on a qualifying team move on to state as individuals. Halverson was third on that list, while Cameron senior team leader Logan Severt missed a qualifying spot by 46 seconds.

“Logan put together an excellent race, finishing 14th,” the coach said. “Logan ran really well. He has been one of our top runners for 4 years. He will be missed next season. He has three All-Conference medals and has been very close to qualifying for the state tournament.

“Our other sectional competitors were Brandon Groskopf (22nd out of 115), Tyler Larson (43rd), Wyatt Warner (83rd), Cole Romsos (86th) and Tanner Gerber (99th).”

At the state meet, the Div. 3 boys race will start at 12:35, with the girls at 2:25.