Sylvia Hansen finishes third at state meet

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Freshman is first in Gillett history to take podium at cross-country meet

Dennis Wilson, Times Herald Correspondent

Gillett High School freshman Sylvia Hansen finished third with a time of 19 minutes, 35.21 seconds at the WIAA State Championships Division 3 race on Saturday in Wisconsin Rapids. (Photo by ATF Media)

One just finished her first year competing on varsity cross-country with a third-place finish in the state tournament. The other finished her high school career finishing 33rd on the same course.

At the end of the day, Sylvia Hansen and Lauren Herzog of Gillett High School both had days they will never forget at the 2017 WIAA State Championships on Saturday in Wisconsin Rapids.

Hansen, a freshman, finished the challenging Ridges Golf Course with a time of 19 minutes, 35.21 seconds, good for third place in a field of 151 runners. In her first year, Hansen became the first Gillett cross-country runner to take the podium.

“I am really surprised about how well I did,” Hansen said with a smile afterwards. “I wasn’t expecting to do as well as I did and I am really happy. My coach told me to treat it like any other race and just be there in the moment.”

“Over the course of the season, she’s learned how to race not only with her body but also with her mind,” head coach Emily Young said. “She knows her abilities and she knows when to use them. She’s a smart racer and has a hunger for winning.”

Marissa Ellenbecker of Edgar and Lydia Murphy of Lancaster finished first and second, respectively in the individual Division 3 race. Erika Kisting of Iola-Scandinavia and Kara Troxel of Bonduel rounded out the top five.

Herzog, a senior, finished in 33rd place with a time of 20:54.

“She peaked at exactly the right time this year,” Young said. “She raced her heart out at the sectional meet and carried that through the state meet. Lauren worked hard to achieve her goal of a state meet her senior year and she raced all the way to the finish. A person like her as a lasting affect on a freshman like Sylvia (Hansen).”

Herzog and Hansen had a plan coming in and made the most of the big-time race.

“We came in thinking that Sylvia was going to do well and we were going to race our hearts out,” Herzog said. “It was a little warmer than we anticipated, so we were kind of over the moon about that. That kind of made our racing seem elevated. All the cheering and the atmosphere made us run even faster.”

For Herzog, it was the last race of her high school career, and she enjoyed the fact that she was able to share this experience with her teammate one last time.

“The biggest thing was that it was really nice to have a freshman come up and pull the team,” she said. “I could chase her so I didn’t fall back; it was really nice to have her there to push me and we could both be the best we could be.”