River Falls cross country coach Kari DeLuca said it has truly been a historic season for the River Falls boys’ cross country team.
A Big Rivers Conference title and a sectional championship were followed up by a 12th place finish at the 20-team WIAA Division 1 State Cross Country Championships Saturday, Nov. 2, in Wisconsin Rapids in their first state tournament appearance since 1983.
DeLuca said it was a fitting end for a group that’s worked hard since falling one spot short of making it to state in 2018.
“I am extremely happy with what this team accomplished,” DeLuca said. “They put a lot of work in the off season with the goal of accomplishing great things and I think we can end the season saying we did that.”
The Wildcats finished with 293 points, led by senior Mason Shea placing 11th among the team qualifiers, and 19th overall, with a time of 16 minutes, 17.5 seconds.
“Mason being in the top 20 was a highlight,” DeLuca said. “There is so much talent in that D1 race, if you can make top 20 of that race you are in a very elite group.”
Junior Grant Magnuson finished 30th in the team portion with a time of 16:41.3 and senior Joey Madsen was 46th in 16:59.3 while senior Jason Franzwa was 98th in 17:35.5. Junior Brandon Nelson rounded out the Cat’s scoring with a 108th place time of 17:42.8.
“Joey Madsen had a very strong race,” DeLuca said. “He is so consistent for us and really raced tough on the course.”
Sophomores Dustin Sheeley and Marcus Benedict rounded out the Wildcat lineup with times of 18:25.2 and 18:55.4, respectively.
Middleton won the boys’ team championship for the second time in the past three seasons with a five-runner score of 104 points, while Hortonville senior Jake Krause won the individual title with a time of 15:34.2.
DeLuca said she needed to give a big shout out to the team’s seniors— Shea, Madsen and Franzwa.
“Their talent, work ethic, and leadership are unmatched by many of their age,” she said. “They have left their mark on this program and they have inspired the underclassmen as well. It's a group that will be missed greatly but will be remembered by this program for a long time.”
The coach said the team also appreciated the support of the River Falls community, especially in the week leading up to state.
“The support this past week has been awesome,” she said. “Numerous people reached out to us to wish us good luck at state. It's been really cool to see how many people have been following our journey this season.”