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Cochrane-Fountain City High School junior Wes Pronschinske (third from right) took fifth place in the state meet on Oct. 30.

The gorgeous weather held out for another weekend as competitors and their fans from all over the state took to the 5,000-meter circuit on Ridges Golf Course in Wisconsin Rapids, Wis. For the runners who have been here before or the ones competing for the first time there’s nothing quite like having 10,000-plus fans lined up along the route cheering you on. It can propel you to heights you’ve never reached, or the rocket fuel of adrenaline can zap you and you are left wondering how it all went wrong. Age, gender, or experience doesn’t matter. The state meet is just a different beast.  

Cochrane-Fountain City’s lone entrant in the boy’s race, Wesley Pronschinske, had experience on his side. It’s the Pirate junior’s third trip here and he was focused and ready to go for a win. He had his sights set on defending state champion Parker Schneider from Durand, Wis. It always helps to have someone ahead of you to focus on throughout a race, and Parker would be Wes’s carrot. As the race unfolded neither would come close to meet winner, Shane Griepentrog from Valders, Wis., who scorched the course in 15:38.6 minutes, which was the second fastest Division 3 time in history. Valders took home the team trophy scoring 78 points to runner-up Grantsburg’s 85 points. Wesley finished strong and passed Parker with about 200 meters to go for a fine fifth overall in 16:43.2 minutes. Parker held on for sixth 16:46.2. Kevin Carroll from Whitehall (the other Dairyland qualifier) finished his cross country career in 22nd (17:26.0). Wesley was the highest placed underclassman and can realize his dream of a state championship next year if all goes well.  

In the Division 3 girls race, Lady Pirate Reese Ehrat battled to a commendable 35th place with a time of 20:53.6 minutes. It was gutsy race considering she didn’t feel up to par most of the way. She also gets another crack at it next year and her motivation will be high. The girl’s race was won by Catholic Central’s Elsie Kmecak in 19:47.7. Representing the Dairyland Conference was Augusta, Wis., senior Bailey Peterson (20:00.5, eighth place) and Melrose-Mindoro sophomore Claire Becker (20:30.1, 17th). The team champion was Boscobel, Wis., with 71 points, which easily outdistanced runner-up Valders (108 points).  

It was wonderful to get back to some normalcy this season and hopefully fun was had by all who were involved. Hope to see everyone again next season.