Clinton boys cross country savor the experience at state meet
No, the pack mentality didn’t give the Cougars a fourth state title. In fact, they placed 16th out of 16 teams in the WIAA Division 2 state meet here Saturday at Ridges Golf Course.
But just being back was the real accomplishment.
After making 11 state tournaments and winning three titles under Bill Greer in a 25-year span that ended in 1996, the Clinton boys dropped off, last reaching state in 2002. So this year’s team was all smiles on Saturday, despite bringing up the rear in the Division 2 field.
“It was a nice feeling,” said senior and unofficial team captain Sean Lavery. “It was the most peaceful race I’ve ever run. Honestly, I was just thinking that I have to savor this moment, because it’s the last time I’m ever going to do it. It’s the last time we as a team are ever going to do it.”
Senior Brian Gilbank was the top finisher among Clinton’s seven runners, placing 91st with a time of 18:02 on the 5,000-meter course. Lavery placed 98th in 18:12.
Second-year Clinton coach Kris Wallace was thrilled with the experience, but he hopes this season is just a building block to restoring the program to its previous success.
“Obviously, it’s an elite meet, and (we) didn’t finish quite as well as we would’ve liked to,” Wallace said. “We wanted to finish in the top half, but we didn’t quite do that, obviously.
“Hopefully, (reaching state) is becoming the expectation rather than the exception.”
Like Clinton, this season’s experience has raised expectations for Albany.
Building on its 15th-place finish a season ago, Albany took eighth in the Division 3 boys field on Saturday, despite returning just three runners from last year’s state squad.
Albany coach Tony Brewer thought his team ran well on Saturday and is already looking forward to next season.
“Now that this year’s over, expectations are going to be high,” Brewer said.
Sophomore Reece Whitehead had a strong showing for Albany, placing 26th individually in 17:26.
Team champions in the boys field were Shorewood in Division 2 and Cedar Grove-Belgium in Division 3, while Waukesha Memorial senior John Luterbach won the Division 2 individual title in 15:46 and Cedar Grove-Belgium senior Josh Mulloy won his second straight Division 3 title with a time of 16:15.
University Lake School sophomore Molly Seidel, meanwhile, won her second consecutive state title in breaking her Division 3 girls 4,000-meter record with a time of 14:33. Winnebago Lutheran senior Marya Haegler claimed the Division 2 girls crown in 14:33, while Pewaukee and Edgar won the Division 2 and Division 3 girls team titles, respectively.