Lenn, Schmoll earn sectional titles
NDA boys and girls, WDP boys and De Pere girls teams head to state
By Greg Bates
Local cross-country runners fared well at sectionals on Oct. 22 as a number of individuals and teams advanced to the WIAA state meet.
De Pere’s Grady Lenn and West De Pere’s Kate Schmoll won their respective Division 1 races to punch their tickets individually to state.
In Division 1, the West De Pere boys’ team placed second at its sectional and the De Pere girls also were runner-up to move onto state.
The Notre Dame Academy boys’ and girls’ cross country teams both advanced to state with the boys winning their Division 2 sectional and the girls finishing second.
State will be held at Ridges Golf Course in Wisconsin Rapids on Oct. 29.
Competing in his first sectional as a varsity runner, Grady Lenn ran an ideal race and finished first (15:44.3) by nearly five seconds at the Manitowoc Lincoln Sectional.
Just a freshman in his first sectional meet, Lenn — who ran his personal-best time — may have even surprised himself by how well he did.
“It was really surreal,” Lenn said. “I wasn’t expecting it to happen, so it was definitely cool to win.”
Lenn had his race mapped out prior to competing for the first time at the Manitowoc course.
“Going into the race, the strategy was I was kind of going to sit in the back of — there’s obviously that front pack of about five guys, so my plan was to sit in the back of it and kind of let them see how everyone else is doing and then try to leave with about a half mile left,” Lenn said. “That’s what I ended up doing and it ended up working well.”
In his first race at state, Lenn has high expectations.
“I would like to for sure podium, that would be the goal,” said Lenn about placing in the top 10 at state. “If I run well, I can take top five.”
Bay Port’s Sam Lieuwen was the final individual qualifier for state, placing eighth (16:53.2), edging his teammate Ian Selissen, who was ninth.
As a team, Kimberly (62 points) was first, followed by West De Pere (70). Bay Port just missed state by coming in third (82).
West De Pere seniors Noah Jahnke (15:58.3) and Matthew Schmoll (16:40.3) came in fifth and sixth, respectively, to lead their team to state. Seniors Vaughn Gerrits (17.41.8), Landon Nuthals (17:44) and Ryan Flood (17:47.8) rounded out the top-five finishers for the Phantoms.
On the girls’ side, Kate Schmoll earned back-to-back sectional championships. The sophomore had a top time of 18:20.7 this year.
She won the race by 20 seconds over second-place finisher Hope Dragseth (18:40.9) from De Pere.
“I never really knew how far behind Hope was. I kind of like heard her coaches throughout the whole race,” Schmoll said. “I knew that she had to be somewhere close. But it was just really nice, I had a lot of my teammates there towards the end to cheer for me and just letting me know, ‘You got this.’ It was nice in the last little straight away I guess to just have a little downhill to go into the finish. It was pretty tiring, but it was pretty fun to see that finish.”
As a freshman last season, Schmoll placed seventh at state. That experience should pay dividends when she’s back in Wisconsin Rapids.
“Saturday, I’m really just hoping to get out there and hopefully not die off in the later miles,” Schmoll said. “I’m really hoping that I’m coming in very consistent and strong in the second mile and then hopefully just have a little bit more to give in that third mile.”
Also making it to state individually were Green Bay Preble’s Hailey Novitski, who finished sixth (19:47.6); Bay Port’s Reese Gustafson, who placed 10th (20:20.7); and Pulaski’s Angela Opolka, who finished 11th (20:23.9).
De Pere advanced to state as a team, coming in second (53 points) to Kaukauna (38). Green Bay Preble (87) took third to just miss state.
Along with Dragseth, De Pere was led by Emma Coon in third place (19:10.5). Jessica Rolain was eighth (20:06.6), Bella Heideman was 18th (20:43.6) and Katherine Pahl took 22nd (20:53.1).
After placing state runner-up in 2018, ’19 and ’21 at state, the Notre Dame boys’ cross country team wants to get over the hump this season.
The Tritons took the first step by winning their sectional on Oct. 22 with a low 47 points, beating out Xavier (81) at the Brillion Sectional.
“They’ve had their eyes on the big prize all year and it was important to run really well on Saturday for all seven of them and all seven did,” Notre Dame boys’ and girls’ cross country coach John Gard said. “It’s like check the box and move onto the next battle.”
Isaac Nowak was fourth overall (16:48.9) for Notre Dame. Joe Stumpf came in eighth (17:10.1).
Braeden Tilot came in 10th (17:18.5), followed directly by Joe Hunt in 11th (17:20.6). Bryce Hawley was 14th (17:47.5).
“We’re going to state to win,” Gard said. “That’s our goal, and I think we have a good shot.”
After three straight second-place finishes at state (not including the 2020 COVID season), the Notre Dame boys have extra motivation to win state.
“They don’t hand it to you; you’ve got to go out and earn it,” Gard said. “These boys have earned it every day.”
For the girls, Notre Dame (50 points) took second place as Xavier (40) won the sectional title.
“I think we’re one of the best three teams going to state,” Gard said. “I’m saying that not from a level of arrogance, but these girls in August, we didn’t know what we had and they just continued to get better. The one thing we have is an incredible pack. They’ve become really tight as friends, which makes them stick together as runners. That’s a gift. It was pretty special on Saturday.”
Freshman Monika Stoik led the way for the Tritons with a fifth-place finish (20:22.5). Lauren Carlton was eighth (20:31.8) and Ella Capomaccio finished 10th (20:42). Kinsey Gallagher was 13th (20:51.4) and teammate Camille Broullire placed 14th (20:58.9).
Notre Dame will utilize its top seven girls at the state meet.
“Our seventh (runner) could be running top three or four on most teams, which is a blessing,” Gard said.
“We may not be as far up in the front, but the points in the state meet are all at four and five (best runners), and we’ve got a nice group. Just got to all be healthy on the same day.”