Not many high school runners make it to state all four years, and even fewer finish in the top 30 in three of those four seasons. But that’s what Hudson senior Rachel Ball did Saturday, Nov. 2, at the WIAA State Cross Country Championships in Wisconsin Rapids.
Ball and classmate Noah Lundeen were both making their fourth straight appearances at state. Lundeen posted the best state finish of his career, placing 24th out of 190 runners in the boys’ race with a time of 16 minutes, 19.7 seconds, while Ball was 27th in the girls’ race in 19:21.4.
After finishing 15th at state as a freshman and 13th her sophomore season, Ball was 55th last year at state. She said she just wanted to give it her best in her final race as a Raider.
“It’s my last one so that makes it special,” she said. “I just wanted to go out there and have a really good race, and I think I did. I think I took this one a lot more relaxed because no matter what I did, it was going to be good because it was my last one. I was just psyched to be out there and be on the course.”
Junior teammate Alicia Belany joined Ball in the girls’ race for the third straight year and finished 57th overall with a time of 19:48.2. She said she learned a lot from her 147th and 160th place finishes the last two seasons.
“I learned how to run it differently,” she said. “It’s like a new learning experience every time so I was really happy with my finish.”
She said she’s also learned a lot from running with Ball the last three years.
“It’s fun because we push each other a lot and it’s fun to work with her to get better,” Belany said.
Ball said the competitiveness the pair share has made them both better runners.
“We’ve been competing with each other for five years, so I had to beat her one last time,” she said with a smile.
Lundeen’s best finish at state in his previous three seasons was 73rd place last season, but he felt like he still could have done better than his 24th place finish this year.
“The race didn’t go quite as I had hoped,” he said. “The weather was a challenge and a lot of the kids had more speed on the hills than me, but I’m satisfied.”
Teammate Anthony Weeks joined Lundeen in the boys’ race for the third straight year and finished 36th with a time of 16:31.3 after placing 44th a year ago and 150th as a freshman. Lundeen said it felt good to have Weeks alongside him in his final race as a Raider.
“Me and Anthony helped prepare each other all week and it was fun to race together today,” he said.
Onalaska junior Kora Malacek won the girls’ Division 1 individual title with a 5,000 meter course record time of 17:44.6, while senior Jake Krause of Hortonville won the boys title in 15:34.2.