Merrill, Tomahawk cross teams eagerly hit the trails

The Merrill and Tomahawk cross country teams hooked up early in their seasons-the second meet for both teams-in Saturday’s Hodag Invitational.

Only the Hatchet girls competed in this event, but they ran a strong fourth-just 4 points out of 3rd and 11 out of second-while the Bluejay girls ranked a solid sixth in the nine-team event.

The Merrill boys ended up fifth of eight squads.

Tomahawk’s Rachel Sudury was the meet runner-up in 15:38, 24 seconds behind Wausau East’s Ashley Eckhoff. Merrill’s Sydney Harris placed 5th in 16:24, while freshman Ashley Berton (17:17) surged ahead of Tomahawk’s Stephanie Welke (17:22) for 18th place.

Tomahawk’s other scoring members included Rachael Miller (24th, 17:34), Kelsey Renn (26th, 17:48) and Jessie Harmon (28th, 18:14), and Emily Miller (31st, 18:40) and Taylor Laack (34th, 19:02) competed.

“The quality of the girls field served to expose some of the things we need to work on,” THS coach John Zuelsdorf said. “I wanted the girls to go out a little more conservatively this year due to the heat and humidity, and that may have backfired. Rachel ran a smart race and broke from the field with Eckhoff at about 1,000 meters into the race. This tactic never allowed the other quality individuals to seriously challenge them.”

For Merrill, Maria DeBroux (38th, 19:27), Kendra Andreska (41st, 19:39) and Kelci Peterson (43rd, 19:46) scored and Sarah Ponzer (54th, 22:17) competed.

“Sydney and Ashley have been showing tremendous potential to mix it up with the front of the pack and I was very excited to see them finish where they did,” MHS coach Greg Eichelkraut said. “The rest of our pack supported each other well with Maria DeBroux making some big moves in the middle of the race.”

The Bluejay boys were paced by Andrew Seaman (20th, 19:58), Trevor Myers (25th, 20:28), Mitchel Sherfinski (28th, 20:44), Ethan Schneider (29th, 20:46) and Michael Seaman (33rd, 21:06). Matthew Dewar (34th, 21:11) and Marcus Rein??????­hardt (39th, 21:31) also ran.

“Our boys team ran aggressively, but our inexperience showed in not maintaining our packs well,” Eichelkraut said. “We’ll have to be more consistent in our race attack if we are to achieve higher finishes. In spite of that, we competed well in almost catching West and Rhinelander.”

Merrill trailed West by a single point 134-135, and were within shouting distance of third-place Rhinelander (109). D.C. Everest topped Wausau East 21-34 for the title.

Ted Voigt Invite

Merrill kicked off the season by ranking third in both races of last Tuesday’s meet in Lakeland.

“Our young squads handled the meet well as we focused mostly on attacking this hilly course,” Eichelkraut said. “We’ve laid a significant foundation for improvement today. Both squads are very competitively oriented and showed it today.”

The girls were just 8 points behind runner-up Rapids with top finishes by Harris (2nd, 17:24) and Berton (4th, 18:17). Andreska (22nd, 19:50), Peterson (24th, 19:59), DeBroux (28th, 20:27) and Ponzer (34th, 25:31) closed it out.

The boys counted on Myers (11th, 20:05), A. Seaman (15th, 21:04), Schneider (18th, 21:23), Sherfinski (19th, 21:31), Reinhardt (23rd, 21:57), Dewar (26th, 22:17) and M. Seaman (28th, 22:46).

Do you know the highest point…

Tomahawk’s boys ran away with the 9-team Timm’s Hill race on Tuesday, scoring 57 to runner-up Flambeau’s 79.

Connor Ahrens (2nd, 18:33), Dylan Dahl (11th, 19:42), Bryan Tomaek (12th, 19:44), Garrett Daigle (15th, 20:16), Troy Salewske (17th, 20:23), Ryan Kuehn (20th, 20:52) and Thomas Miller (24th, 21:13) cracked the top 25.

Harmon (10th, 17:40) and Laack (15th, 18:21) did it for the girls, as a THS JV crew ranked fifth in the varsity race. Regan Swan (25th, 19:11), Sammi White (26th, 19:11) and Megan Juedes (31st, 19:43) closed the scoring.

“I forgot just how tough a course it is,” Zuelsdorf said. “Our athletes handled the challenges admirably. It was nice to see our youthful boys pull out a win over the defending champs. from Prentice/Rib Lake.”

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