After a regular season filled with adversity, the DeForest boys cross country team faced some more on the final day of the 2020 season. Competing in their first WIAA state meet since 1999, the Norskies had the battle the wind and cold temperatures along with a talented field at the WIAA Division 1 state meet in Arrowhead on Halloween.
“The wind became an even bigger deal in the small field,” Norski coach Joe Parker said. “Any gap that started to open up quickly became huge. The guys really took an aggressive approach to the first 1,000 meters, which tells me they understood the intensity needed to perform at that level. Unfortunately, some suffered because of it.”
The state meet traditionally is held in Wisconsin Rapids, but because of the COVID-19 pandemic, the three divisions split up into three different locations. Also, at each state meet, the runners were broken up into three different sessions to keep down the number of runners on the course at one time.
When the three sections were completed and the times and scores were added up, DeForest finished in 11th place with 233 team points.
Oconomowoc claimed the Division 1 title with 109 points, while Marquette University edged out Whitefish Bay by a point, 129-130, for second place. Slinger came in fourth with 135 team points, followed by Menomonie (138), Badger (145), Neenah (158), New Richmond (160), Kimberly (187), Onalaska (206), DeForest and Kenosha Indian Trail (257).
Sophomore Isaiah Bauer was the top runner for the Norskies. He finished 30th overall with his time of 16 minutes, 37.3 seconds, which put him 16th among team scoring runners.
“Isaiah had a great last mile to finish 30th overall from all sessions, a great accomplishment for a sophomore,” Parker said. “He was the only one that saw any time dropped from the sectional meet, but that was not uncommon with the wind.”
Junior Elijah Bauer was the second Norski to finish the race. He placed 62nd overall and scored 36 team points after finishing in 17:14.4.
The Norskies’ Caleb Ekezie (17:28.1) placed 79th overall. The junior was 49th among scoring runners.
DeForest senior Korbin Eisler finished the course in 17:44.8 to place 92nd overall and 62nd among scoring runners.
Junior Jackson Grabowski was the final scoring runner for the Norskies. His time of 18:18.0 put him 100th overall and 70th among scoring runners.
Junior Matthew Vandermeer (18:21.2) and senior Ferris Wolf (18:44.0) also ran for DeForest, but did not factor into the team score. They placed 103rd and 110th overall, respectively.
West Allis Hale’s Joshua Truchon claimed the Division 1 individual state title after finishing in 15:18.3. Slinger’s Cael Grotenhuis (15:38.0) was the runner up, followed in the top five by Neenah’s Austin Henderson (15:48.7), Shorewood’s Nathan Cumberbatch (15:50.1) and Hortonville’s Charlie Wirth (15:56.3).
The state meet wrapped up the 2020 season for the Norskies and Parker was very pleased with how it went.
“As far as the entire season, the program started the season with 30 runners navigating the new protocols and safety measures necessary to complete the season healthy,” Parker said. “Meets took on an entirely different look with most of our starting lines paired down from the hundreds we were used to at some meets, to as few as two runners starting at a time. The term ‘Wave Starts’ was introduced as a means to adapt to local and WIAA regulations. In the end, 98 percent the guys ran lifetime-bests, a measure of their ability to focus on what they could control in an otherwise difficult period to navigate school, sports and social interactions.”
The Norskies really excelled in the WIAA postseason.
“Without a conference championship, the team could still measure their success with the sub sectional and sectional titles that eventually earned them a trip to the state meet,” Parker said. “We had a great group of Senior leaders that I will miss dearly, but there remains a core of individuals that are ready to fill those leadership shoes.”