Cameron had another excellent showing at a Div. 3 WIAA cross country sectional on Saturday, Oct. 26. Running at Boyceville, the Comet girls advanced to the state meet as a team and junior Josh Halverson again moved on as an individual state qualifier.
Remarkably, this will be the Comet girls’ third consecutive trip to state. They won a sectional title last year and placed 15th as a team at state. They’ll look to improve on that finish this Saturday, Nov. 2, during the State Cross Country Championships at Ridges Golf Course in Wisconsin Rapids.
Halverson has an impressive state streak of his own, making the field for a third time. He finished 39th as a freshman and 37th at Wisconsin Rapids a year ago.
At Boyceville, the Cameron girls scored 97 team points to place second behind an impressive Glenwood City club (42). Colfax (129), Fall Creek (133) and Chetek-Weyerhaeuser (139) rounded out the top five.
It was a thrilling race, with Colfax’s Molly Heldorn finishing in 19:51 to best fellow freshman Jenna Anders of Fall Creek by just two-tenths of a second.
Senior Aurora Felonk led Cameron with a time of 20:54, finishing just 3 seconds behind the final individual state qualifier.
“We had a challenging week leading up to the sectionals,” coach David Gerber said. “On Monday, two of our top girl runners were sick and not in school. Then at practice that night, Brittany Breed stepped in a hole and sprained her ankle. She was in a walking boot the next three days. At that point, the team felt a little defeated.
“A lot of things were going wrong, but as the week continued, we got healthier and rested. By Saturday, everyone was healthy, although Brittany was still struggling with her ankle.”
Cameron needed a strong finish at Boyceville to secure second place.
“The girls were back and forth between third and fourth place during the first half of the race,” Gerber said. “We were behind Glenwood City and Colfax, and close to a tie with Fall Creek. During the second half of the race, we began to move up.
“All our girls started passing girls on the other teams. I think the girls surprised themselves. They had a lot of energy in the second half of the meet, as the other teams were starting to drop off. By the time our girls got to the last mile, we had second place and a trip to the state meet secured. We were really proud of the girls. They ran a really smart race and pushed themselves hard at the end.”
Behind Felonk, who ran with the lead group from start to finish, was the threesome of Taylor Severt (16th), Cali Romsos (21st) and Mady Robel (26th).
“They have been so consistent all season,” Gerber said. “They never have a bad race. These three sophomores have been such a big part of our team’s success these last two seasons.
“Brittany Breed (33rd), who has been one of our top runners all season, ended up not being a scoring runner due to her ankle injury. She showed a lot character battling through the race and finishing as our sixth runner.
“Freshman Laila Peterson (32nd) used the opportunity to step and help the team, as she was our fifth scoring runner. We were really proud of Laila. She hadn’t been a scoring runner all season, but she was ready when we needed her.
“Going into the race, she knew she was likely going to be needed. I was a little concerned that the moment might be a little overwhelming for her, but she handled the pressure extremely well. She really rose to the occasion. She beat 19 runners who had beaten her at some point earlier in the season.
“Freshman Alyssa Kuffel (45th), our seventh runner, also had a great race,” the coach continued. “Our depth really showed in this race, as Alyssa would have been a scoring runner (top five) for every other team in the sectionals except Glenwood City. To not be at full strength and still earn a place in the state meet really showed how much depth our team has.”
In the boys race, Chippewa Falls McDonell sophomore Dan Anderson crossed the line in 16:56 to win by 18 seconds. Halverson placed fifth overall in 17:34 and earned the third of five individual state qualifying positions.
“Josh ran a strong race from start to finish,” Gerber said. “At the one-mile mark, he was in fifth place and running with the lead pack. It was very fast pace. I was a little concerned that he might not be able to hold such a fast pace for the whole race. He stayed strong the whole race, finishing in fifth place and earning his third trip to the state tournament.
“Josh needed to have a good race to qualify. There were seven runners in the race who had finished ahead of him earlier in the season. Finishing eighth wouldn’t earn him a spot in the state meet. Josh races his best in these types of situations. He is able to reach deep and push through pain in those big moments.”
Seniors Brandon Groskopf (29th) and Peyton Buzek (45th) crossed the line next for Comets in a field of 124. Juniors Tyler Larson (57th), Cole Romsos (68th) and sophomore Tanner Gerber (90th) completed Cameron’s team.
Clear Lake won the sectional title with 56 points, while McDonell moved on with a second place total of 61. Spring Valley (123), Regis (127) and Boyceville (159) completed the top five. Cameron posted a team score of 196 to place eighth.
The Div. 3 girls state run will be start at 1:20 p.m. on Saturday at Wisconsin Rapids. Halverson will run at 3:10 p.m.