|11/9/2020 11:47:00 AM|
Aurit, Connolly are Cross Country history makers at State
Two area runners ran their hearts out Saturday in their respective WIAA State Cross Country meets and both made history.
For Dodgeville/Mineral Point junior Will Aurit it was the fact he is the first and quite possibly the last runner in D/MP history to appear at the Division 1 state meet. D/MP, a dominating team in Division 2 over the years, was placed in Division 1 this year due to COVID-19 which forced the schools in Dane County to forgo the fall season as athletics in their conferences were mostly shut down. D/MP met the enrollment numbers, though low, to be moved into the new division.
But that did not dampen the fact that he was able to run in a state meet for Will. He ran in the middle set of the boys division that was split for COVID-19 reasons to regulate crowds and competitors.
Will finished a respectable 55th out of 114 total runners with a time of 17:06.4 and a pace time of 5:31.
By contrast West Allis Nathan Hale's Joshua Truchon took top honor with a time of 15:18.3. The first runner to enter the 17 minute mark was Isaac Nowak, a sophomore at Notre Dame who ran the course in 17:02.8.
Will's stay at the course at Hartland Arrowhead was short as competitors and fans were ushered out of the race area as soon as they caught their breath to make room for the next set of runners in the three set event. In the three sets, girls ran first and boys second with the girls also leaving right away.
Will's return home was highlighted by a "name in lights event" as Dodge Theater congratulated him on their marquee.
Dodgeville/Mineral Point co-coach Joe Hanson said, "Will ran a very good race last Saturday in Hartland Wisconsin on the campus of Arrowhead High School. He got out fast and held his position throughout the 5000 meter course. He placed in the top 50% of the D1 championship race."
"We really have no way to compare how good that is," Hanson added "But I will say that no one from our program should be disappointed in Wills' effort on that blustery Saturday afternoon. We are beyond thankful that Will had an opportunity to race in what was a historical event for a very deserving athlete from our program. Great job Will Aurit!"
Co-coach Denny McGraw said, "It was great to have Will at the state meet. He proved he can un with the best. Some might have been intimidated but not Will."
McGraw predicts a great future for the D/MP runner.
"This will help him to be the leader for the track season and next year's cross country season," McGraw said.
Iowa-Grant senior runner Nick Connolly was only 17 seconds behind the Division 3 champion at the WIAA Division 3 State Championship race Saturday in West Salem.
Nick, running in the first session at 10:10 a.m., ended up as the third best runner in the championship race. He covered the 5,000 meter course in 16:22.
Parker Schneider of Durand was the State Champion at 16:05, followed closely by Cashton's Jarret Carpenter at 16:07.
Schneider set the pace early really got out aggressively and led the entire race, except for maybe a second with about 200 meters to go when Carpenter tried to make his move.
Nick's coach, Jake Winkler, said about 1,000 meters into the race, the top four really distanced themselves from the rest of the pack.
"Nick moved solidly into that third place spot around 2,500 meters, passing New Lisbon's Owen Jones. From there, the top two pulled away a bit, and Nick was comfortably ahead of fourth place. From there, Nick had to put together a strong finish, because while he was in third currently, there were still two more races to follow," Winkler said.
Winkler was proud of what Nick accomplished in his last high school race to wrap up an outstanding career at Iowa-Grant.
"His goals for the meet were to be Top three in his race, Top five in the State, and a sub-16:30 - and he nailed all three of those goals," Winkler said.
Nick achieved the best State finish for an Iowa-Grant individual in team history.
"This caps an amazing cross country career for Nick that consists of two SWAL titles and four straight State Meet appearances" Winkler added. "Nick improved his place, each of those years starting with 87th place as a freshman, 35th as a sophomore, 14th as a junior, and now third as a senior. He was instrumental in leading the team to State last year, and has been a great leader, especially the last couple of years. He's really set the standard for the team, and his success has drawn in more runners to this sport. It's been a joy getting to coach Nick the past four years," Winkler said.
Winkler had one more memory to share.
"We had a chance to reminisce on the drive up to West Salem on Saturday morning, which was a lot of fun," the coach said. "We took the same route that we took a lot of Saturday mornings and fall evenings: Fennimore, Boscobel, North Crawford, Kickapoo, Cashton - these places all hold special memories. They really mark Nick's growth as an athlete and person. His journey from that tiny freshman that was beating a lot of guys, to being the guy that the kids all look up to has been awesome to see. There have been so many milestones along the way, but being a two-time Conference Champ, and first in I-G history, along with being a key piece of the team qualifying come to mind. I can't say enough about Nick. I am so proud of him, and I will miss him, certainly as a runner, a teammate, a leader, and perhaps just as important as all of those: a remarkable frisbee player."
Adding to the SWAL flavor of the meet, Darlington finished fifth in the overall team scoring as they qualified out of the Sectionals. They had two runners in the top 10 as junior Rhett Reuter was 15th and sophomore George West was 19th. Their times were 17:08.1 and 17;19.6.
Sheboygan Area Lutheran won the team portion of the meet with 56 points, far ahead of Brookwood's 121 points for second place.
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