Above The Fold Media

For The Free Press

WISCONSIN RAPIDS – If anything was a challenge for Natalie Kreier, it was the topography.

Following Saturday’s WIAA Division 3 girls cross country state final, the Clear Lake junior can confirm that The Ridges Golf Course certainly is not level. The lesson was made possible with her finish in an 8th-place finish in the sectional at Boyceville a week earlier, providing her first state-final appearance. 

While Kreier didn’t pass packs of runners to improve her position in Saturday’s final, she did maintain a steady pace and finished 88th overall in Division 3. She began the race in 85th and advanced to 75th by the end of the first mile before eventually finishing closer to her starting position. 

Kreier said the biggest lesson from her state-final appearance was the transition from courses run during conference competition and the one in Wisconsin Rapids. 

“The toughest part was just running the hills, because we come from a place that’s really flat,” she said. “We have a few hills, but for the most part you just do sprints and try to get your lungs ready.”

Kreier said she concentrated mostly on her finishing time rather than finishing position. The top objective was to improve upon the personal-best time she notched in the sectional – 21 minutes, 23.8 seconds. However, those course challenges pushed her time back to 21:55.2. Had she matched or improved upon her sectional time, Kreier would have finished somewhere in the 60s. 

“I was mainly going for time today,” she said. “I was trying to hit the (personal record); sadly, I wasn’t able to. But I hope to get it next year; I’m hoping to break 20 (minutes).” 

Kreier also has another hope for Clear Lake. Due to being one runner shy of submitting a team score in the sectional, Clear Lake had no chance to advance as a team. Whether or not the Warriors have a full team for her senior season, Kreier would prefer to not be the lone team member to make the state-final trip next year.

“I would love to get a few more teammates that qualify for state next year so we can go as a team,” she said. 

Edgar’s Marissa Ellenbecker won the individual Division 3 title in 19:06.4 while Lancaster won the team title with 74 points. Auburndale (91) was second, followed by a 3rd-place tie between Dodgeland (147) and Rosholt (147). 

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