By Stephen Eibes —
Both the men and women’s cross country teams have broken records, marked personal bests and overall, ran well this season for the University of Wisconsin–Stout. This success has come from great individual performances and perseverance by both teams.
Stout has had one of the better years in school history. Kathleen Thorn (Jr, West Salem, Wis.) broke a school record with a time of 22:22.67 at the University of Wisconsin–Oshkosh AAE Invitational, saying, “I had no idea [the times] would be as good as they turned up. The team has moved up to the third fastest team, with up to seven runners, and fifth fastest team, with up to five runners, in Stout’s history.”
The men’s team is currently ranked 19th in the NCAA Division III Cross Country National Coaches Poll. Patrick Jenkins (Sr, Cambridge, Wis.) says, “We have one of the best teams in Stout history. We’ve been ranked higher than ever before.”
The best finishes for each team came in the Woody Greeno Nebraska Invitational at the University of Nebraska–Lincoln. The men’s team took the number one overall spot among 13 teams, while the women’s team took second overall among 14 teams.
This race proved to be one of the most difficult races of the season. Anthony Cass (Jr, Hortonville, Wis.) says, “It was a very challenging course physically, as it was very hilly and it was our first meet of the season.”
Thorn agrees, saying, “There were so many lurking variables that played into our performance.”
Now, you may think that cross country is an individual sport, but both men and women’s cross country teams instead have been focused on the outcome of their teams as a whole. Jenkins says, “Cross country could be considered an individual sport, but we know we’re all counting on each other as a team. Our program couldn’t produce successful individuals without a successful team.”
Sydnee Braun (So, Neenah, Wis.) says, “I don’t think I would have gotten this far in my running career without the support and dedication of my teammates. When you are out there racing, you’re not just running for yourself, you’re running for your teammates and your school.”
All of the teams’ success has come from determination and goal setting. For the men’s team, academics has been a primary goal. “We always have been an academically minded team, so one of our main goals for the season was to have everyone on the team above a 3.0 GPA.” says Devin Sauvola (So, Eagle River, Wis.).
Braun says that the ladies’ goals include “getting on the top 10 list of fastest Stout times through 5 runners and 7 runners. We also want to be top 10 at regionals.”
The ultimate goal for both teams is the Conference Championship. Thorn says, “The expectation is to bring your A-game. The WIAC is one of the best Division III conferences in the nation and a runner should want to prove they belong there.”
Sauvola also noted, “All the miles that we put on through the year and in years past have prepared us for the race, and I believe that we are all ready.”
The WIAC Cross Country Championships will be Saturday, Nov. 1 at the Ettrick Golf Club, in Ettrick, Wis. Both teams look to put up good times and to advance to regionals.