Boys XC team 4th at state

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Dennis Semrau/Special to the Times-Tribune
Middleton’s Griffin Ward finished second at the WIAA Division 1 state cross country meet./Times-Tribune photo by Mary Langenfeld

JANESVILLE – Junior Griffin Ward and senior Ryan Schollmeyer have proven to be a solid one-two punch for the Middleton boys’ cross country team during this alternative fall season.

They displayed their talents one last time this spring when they capped their season with a stellar finish at the WIAA state meet at the Blackhawk Golf Course last Saturday morning.

“We’re running with one of the best coaches and best programs in Middleton,” Schollmeyer said. “We owed it to them to run our hearts out.”

Mission accomplished.

Stevens Point senior Jake Bourget, a University of Wisconsin recruit, won the individual title, covering the 5,000-meter course in 15 minutes, 38.6 seconds.

But Ward finished second in 15:43.2, while Schollmeyer capped his career with a third-place finish in 15:43.9 to lead the Cardinals to a fourth-place team finish.

“I was thrilled for Ryan, who was having to battle and just had a stellar kick the last 500 meters,” Middleton coach Brian Finnel said. “He just lit it up and almost caught Griffin, too, which was pretty cool. Griffin had five, six seconds on him.

“To go two-three was huge. For the team, we were hoping that two-three would put us in second or third, but we came up a little short. That happens sometimes.”

Stevens Point won its 11th state title and first since 2013 with 32 points. Sun Prairie, behind sophomore Mateo Alvarado Venegas’ sixth-place finish, placed second with 69 points. Green Bay Preble (91) edged out Middleton (95) for third-place in the one division meet.

“We had a few (personal records),” Finnel said. “Still, I’m grateful we had a chance to compete and be here for the state championships.”

It was a near perfect day for a state championship meet with temperatures hovering around 50 degrees under sunny to partly cloudy skies.

“You couldn’t have asked for a better finale,” Finnel said. “Especially in spring, you never know. Last week was 80 high for the day. The weather (today) was awesome.”

Rounding out the top five finishers for the Cardinals were senior Alexander Marrione, who was 25th in scoring (40th overall) in 17:07.6; sophomore Dean Montour, who was 31st in scoring (51st overall) in 17:27.6; and freshman William Whiteis, who was 34th in scoring (54th overall) in 17:41.3.

“I thought Alex Marrione had a heck of a day,” Finnel said. “We weren’t sure how it was going to go. He felt off all week. For him to come out and run a PR in 17:07 did wonders for us. I’m really proud of him. He’s a senior and he’s just grown so much and helped the team in so many ways.”

The rest of the Cardinals’ lineup included junior Ethan Mladucky, who was 60th in 17:55.1, and freshman Miles Wagener, who finished 63rd in 17:57.1.

Senior Ian Bohachek, the team’s seventh runner at the sectional meet, was held out of the meet due to a lingering injury.

“His Achilles’ was still bothering him and his calf,” Finnel said of Bohachek. “So William Whiteis, who’s a freshman, stepped in for him. Will did well and ran a PR in 17:41. He looked really good in practice for the last two weeks, and I felt like it was the move to make because Ian wasn’t 100 percent.”

The story of the meet for Middleton, though, was the continued success of the dynamic duo of Ward and Schollmeyer.

“Griffin had a heck of a day. I’m really proud of him,” Finnel said of Ward. “He and Ryan worked well together. We talked about not taking the lead of that pack. We felt that Jake from SPASH was going to go. His move is he usually takes off pretty fast. So I said just stick with the pack.”

Finnel said the plan was for Ward and Schollmeyer to stick with the lead pack and see how it played out.

“They were in a pack of six,” Finnel said. “Then they just said to each other, I’m ready to go. I’m feeling good. So they both kind of moved. Griffin took the lead (of the pack) at about a mile and a third. He had a strong surge and really separated himself.

“Then Ryan stayed with that group for a while, and he made a great move. No one went with him, which I was surprised by. It just worked out so well. He was so strong and so smooth the rest of the way home.”

Finnel said the plan was to run the first mile in the 4:50 range because the goal was to run to a 15:40 or 50 pace.

“Both of them were off of their PRs by a just couple of seconds, 15:40 for Griffin and 15:41 for Ryan so they were just a few seconds off,” Finnel said. “It was a good day.”

Last week, the duo tried to stay together to help draft off each other due to 20-plus mile-an-hour wins.

This time, Schollmeyer said the strategy for him and Ward was to hang together and finish as close to the leader as possible.

“We knew we wanted to be near Jake (Bourget) because of his accomplishments,” Schollmeyer said. “But I was hoping to stay with (the lead pack) the whole race. At the end, I knew I had to stay in contention with those guys. I knew my kick was going be there.

Added Ward: “I was scared of my kick. I knew (Schollmeyer’s) would be there.”

Ward, who just missed setting a personal-record, said as a team the Cardinals “were feeling pretty good going in.”

“I really didn’t know what I was going to do. I’m kind of surprised,” Ward said. “I felt great. I was hoping to run a little faster time, but my place was better than what I wanted.”

For Schollmeyer, who plans to compete at North Central College for cross country and track and field next year, it was an emotional and fitting final race of his prep cross country career.

“Warming up with the guys, it’s was pretty cool, pretty special,” Schollmeyer said. “It was my last cross race with my coach (Brian Finnel).

“That’s why I knew I needed to leave it out there. For the team, for me, it’s just a pride thing.”


WIAA Alternate Fall Season

State Cross Country Meet

May 8


Team scores: Stevens Point, 32; Sun Prairie, 69; 3, Green Bay Preble, 91; Middleton, 95; Manitowoc Lincoln, 115; Stoughton, 150; New Glarus/Monticello, 174; Fond du Lac, 196.

Top 10 finishers: 1, Jake Bourget, SPASH, 15:38.6; 2, Griffin Ward, Mid., 15:43.2; 3, Ryan Schollmeyer, Mid., 15:43.9; 4, Bryan Bloomquist, Janes. Craig, 15:46.1; 5, Bode Erickson, SPASH, 15:48.6; 6, Mateo Venegas, SunP, 15:56.9; ,7, Yordanos Zelinski, Oregon, 15:57.6; 8, John Thill, Osh. West, 15:59.8; 9, Mason Gates, ML, 16:00.8; 10, Jayden Zywicki, St., 16:04.5.

Middleton: 2, Griffin Ward, Mid., 15:43.2; 3, Ryan Schollmeyer, Mid., 15:43.9; 25/40, Alexander Marrione, 17:07.6; 31/51, Dean Montour, 17:27.6; 34/54, William Whiteis, 17:41.3; 60, Ethan Mladucky, 17:55.1; 63, Miles Wagener, 17:57.1.


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