|11/13/2020 2:19:00 PM|
Aurit, Connolly have eventful cross country seasons close at state
Two of Iowa County's very own high school cross country runners competed at the state championship level on Halloween.
Dodge-Point's Will Aurit and Iowa-Grant's Nick Connolly ran at the division one and division three state championships, respectively.
The WIAA division one state championship was held in Hartland, WI at Mulrooney Cross Country Course and was hosted by Arrowhead High School.
The division three race was held at Maple Grove Venues in West Salem, WI which was hosted by Onalaska High School.
In an unprecedented occasion, Dodge-Point was moved to division one instead of remaining in division two, due to enrollment numbers and usual D1 teams choosing not to compete. This put Aurit, a junior, in a more competitive field of runners.
Although it was a change, Aurit was not discouraged. "The journey to get to and compete at state was the same. There are always going to be fast kids in every division," Aurit expressed.
For Aurit, the increase in competition only raised his anticipation to get out on the track and compete. "I love the competitive nature of racing," Aurit expressed.
In preparing for state, Aurit notes that the season has been challenging, but there was more incentive placed on each race.
"We had to treat every race as if it was our last," he stated. Knowing that a race very well might be the last of the season gave Aurit even more inspiration to give it his all.
The state championship experience was much different than previous years thanks to COVID-19's widespread destruction. There were a limited number of runners, as well as spectators for all of the venues.
The smaller number of participants was a change for Aurit, but he was also missing his fellow partners beside him.
"I was more nervous than I usually am probably due to the fact that I didn't have any teammates with me. Having teammates around seems to take my mind off the stress," Aurit expressed.
However, his teammates helped him train for his state appearance and some were there at Mulrooney Cross Country Course to support him as he finished with a time of 17:06.4 and placed 55th in a pool of 114 runners.
Will looks forward to next season, and hopes that he will get to bring his fellow teammates with him to compete for a team state championship.
For Nicholas Connolly, he found added motivation to compete, as this was his senior year.
"I think I trained harder this year than I ever did before because I knew it was going to be my last season," Connolly said.
Like Aurit, Connolly was grateful for the opportunity to run at state, as COVID has caused many cancellations across the Fall sports season.
"My favorite part about state this year was having it. I was worried about the large crowds and COVID that it would be canceled, but I was very thankful for the chance to compete at state," Connolly added.
The senior certainly made the most of the opportunity, as he finished third overall with a time of 16:22.83.
As Connolly wraps up his last high school cross country season, he expressed his thanks.
"I'm really thankful for these four years of cross country. I've had great support from the coaches, teammates, and fans who have helped me along the way and I'm very happy with the way my high school cross country career ended," Connolly said.
Something that both Aurit and Connolly share are a genuine love for competitive running. They expressed gratitude for what cross country, as a sport and community, has brought into their young lives.
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