WISCONSIN RAPIDS — Marshall senior Gianna Dugan had raced in the WIAA State Cross Country Championships before, but this time was different; she was racing alone.
After competing in the Division 3 state race with her Cardinal teammates in both 2017 and 2018, Dugan was the lone representative of the MHS team this year.
In her final race ever, Dugan finished the 5,000-meter Ridges Golf Course layout in 20 minutes, 41.6 seconds for 28th place overall.
“Not having a support system at the starting line is probably the toughest part. Even though the runners know the kids next to them, they aren’t their teammates,” said Marshall head coach Jeff Looze.
Dugan and the rest of the field raced in snowy and colder-than-normal conditions, as temperatures dipped into the 30s.
While she didn’t race with any of her teammates, she did race with some counterparts from area teams.
“It was good to have most of the the girls team in attendance because they gave her great support. Being lined up next to Christi Forman (Waterloo) and Hanna Constable (Johnson Creek) also helped, Gianna has raced them for the last four years so they know each other well,” said Looze. “The plan was to race with who you know and that should put you right where you want to be. It worked well for Gianna, but Constable took off and didn’t look back which surprised me a bit after seeing them race neck-and-neck until the last 200 (meters) at the Sectional,” said Looze. “Gianna and Christi stayed together for much of the race, then Gianna overtook Christi in the second half of the race and never looked back.
Constable Forman finished ninth while Forman placed 48th.
“I was very happy with her race strategy. Her improvement from last year’s rough season got her back in the groove and lead to a fitting final race in her senior season,” Looze said.