CROSS COUNTRY: Hodags boys 5th, girls 6th at Wittenberg-Birnamwood
Alayna Franson 5th, Bridger Flory 10th
STAR JOURNAL REPORT
The Rhinelander High School cross country teams returned to action Tuesday with a meet at Wittenberg-Birnamwood High School.
The Hodag boys finished in the top five out of the 15 teams competing. Rosholt had the top team score of 81, followed by Amherst (85), Seymour (99), Shawano (122) and the Hodags (150) rounding out the top five.
Rosholt sophomore Adam Rzentkowski had the top individual finish of 17 minutes, 12.36 seconds.
RHS’s boys recorded three top-30 individual finishes among the 158 total runners in the race with sophomore Bridger Flory placing 10th (18 minutes, 24.38 seconds), senior Robert Ritchie 21st (19:03.34) and junior Markus Johnson 23rd (19:08.51).
“All three of these kids medaled in the top 30 and had really nice races,” said Hodags head coach M.J. Laggis. “Their finishing times were all within less than a minute of each other, and senior Tyler Kolasa, who finished fourth for us, was hot on their trail and didn’t miss a top-30 (finish) by much.
Kolasa placed 38th in 19:49.69, while RHS’s fifth runner whose finish counted toward the team total, freshman Levi Smith, ended up 65th in 21:06.97.
“The boys are improving and getting closer and closer to being able to score really well,” Laggis said. “We didn’t miss a top three team finish by much at all. One thing that the boys have really improved on this year is their overall work ethic.
“Bridger Flory continues to be fast. While Markus Johnson has been a strong leader and a great finisher on race day, his kick has really improved. Robert Ritchie has been a solid worker and performer this year; it was great to see him have a good race (Tuesday). Senior Tyler Kolasa looked very strong (Tuesday), I expect him to continue to drop time all year, and have a big finish in October.”
HODAG GIRLS 6TH
The Hodag girls placed sixth out of 14 teams with a score of 152. Wittenberg-Birnamwood topped the team standings at 51, followed by Iola Scandinavia (79), Mosinee (114), Rosholt (142) and Stratford (144) in the top five.
Iola Scandinavia junior Erika Kisting had the only time among the girls less than 20 minutes when she finished first overall in 19:40.91.
RHS had two top-10 individual finishes with juniors Alayna Franson placing fifth (21:15.6) and Anna Sturzl coming in eighth (22:23.47).
The Hodags’ other three runners whose finishes counted toward the team total included: senior Gracie Quinn, 36th in 24:30.67; senior Peyton Hartman, 52nd in 25:38.99; and sophomore Claire Bowman, 57th in 25:48.98.
“A big key for us as we move forward is going to be to get our girls to finish in a tighter pack in terms of their finishing times,” Laggis said. “We have too big of a gap between our top five and we need to continue to drop time.
“Franson and Sturzl both earned medals in the race and they have consistently been our No. 1 and No. 2 runners. Gracie Quinn continues to battle and improve and Payton Hartman is in the same boat. It was nice to see Claire Bowman take our 5th spot and step up her race pace.”
The Hodags’ next meet is Sept. 17 when they compete at the Smiley Invitational in the Wausau area.