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Raiders run strong in first invitational

Raider sophomore Katie Wetzstein closes in on the finish line at the Husky Cross Country Invitational in Eau Claire Saturday. Wetzstein finished second in the girls' varsity race with a time of 14 minutes, 52.55 seconds. Submitted photo

Hudson's boys ran to a first-place finish and the Raider girls finished sixth in the first cross country meet of the season at the Husky Invitational in Eau Claire Saturday.

Senior Jacob Ball finished second and junior Matt Rudquist was third to lead the Raiders to a first-place team total of 75 points in the 14-team boys' portion of the race. Sophomore Katie Wetzstein took second as the Raiders finished with 138 points in the 13-team girls' field.

Hudson's boys were followed by La Crosse Central with 83, La Crosse Loga, 93, and Holmen, 115. Eau Claire Memorial finished with 131 to round out the top five teams.

On the girls' side, La Crosse Central was first with 56, followed by Menomonie with 6, Eau Claire Memorial with 99, Holmen with 100 and Onalaska with 125.

Ball, a state qualifier in the 3200 meter run and 4 X 800 meter relay last spring, finished the 5,000 meter boys' race with a second-place time of 16 minutes, 23.44 seconds while Rudquist, another state qualifier in the 3200 meter run last spring, was third in 16:50.29. William Krumbach of La Crosse Central was first in 16:04.77.

The Raider boys have 34 runners, including nine freshmen, out for the boys' squad this fall, a number head coach Don Krupa said he likes.

"They will learn the science of running and competition in races so that next year they will contribute to the success of the team," Krupa said.

One freshman -- Ryan Kromer -- isn't waiting for next year to contribute. Kromer was the third Raider across the finish line, and finished seventh overall, with a time of 16 minutes, 59.5 seconds. Martin Zais, who missed the spring track season with injuries, posted a 26th place time of 17:55.9 while Anders Christensen, another freshman running in his first varsity race, rounded out the Raiders' top five and finished 37th overall in 18:15.6.

Nick Schumacher, a senior state qualifier last spring in the 800 meter run and 4 X 800 meter relay competing in cross country for the first time, finished 49th in 18:54 while junior Taylor Johnson, also in his first cross country race, finished 55th in 19:03.9.

A total of 118 runners competed in the boys' race.

In the 4,000 meter girls' race, Maddi Hibshman of Onalaska took first in 14:28.84, followed by Wetzstein of Hudson in 14:52.55 and Jaden Roddick of Sparta in 15:15.23.

Senior Rachel Zachar, a two-time state qualifier in cross country as a freshman and junior, was the second Raider across the finish line in 19th place with a time of 16:28 while freshman Abby Koski placed 36th with a time of 16:55. Senior captain Cori Vought finished 40th in 17:01 while junior Deven DuCharme rounded out the Raiders' top five with a 45th place time of 17:09.

Other Raider finishers in the 116-runner field included sophomore Sarah Kehoe in 50th place in 17:13, senior Keri Wetzstein 52nd in 17:18, junior Shemaina Miller 72nd in 17:42, freshman Miki Robers 77th in 17:49 and freshman Dena DuCharme 89th in 18:21.

"The girls' team has new chemistry about them as some new faces enter the racing team," Krupa said.

The Raiders will travel to Marshfield Friday night for Saturday morning's (Sept. 5) Marshfield Columbus Invitational.

"This will be a little treat for those runners making the varsity," Krupa said. "This is a big invitational, with 30-plus schools running in all three divisions."

Bob Burrows
Bob Burrows has been sports editor at the River Falls Journal since 1996 and at the Hudson Star-Observer since 2009. Prior to joining the Journal, Burrows served as sports editor with Ledger Publications in Balsam Lake, Wis. A native of Bayonne, N.J. and a U.S. Navy veteran, Burrows attended Marquette University before completing his studies at UW-River Falls in 1992.
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