Local runners shine at M&O cross-country meet

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Gillett’s Hanson, Hansen take first
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Gillett’s Sylvia Hansen, left, and Derek Hanson each placed first at the first-ever Marinette & Oconto Conference meet Oct. 11 in Pembine. (Contributed photo)

Marinette & Oconto Conference runners made history Thursday, competing in the first-ever conference meet on the grounds of Lake Lundgren Bible Camp.

The Gillett sophomore duo of Derek Hanson and Sylvia Hansen became the first conference champions in dominating fashion. Hanson won the boys race in 16 minutes, 53.2 seconds, more than 40 seconds faster than the next finisher. Hansen posted a time of 19:11.4, almost two full minutes ahead of the second-place runner.

With sectionals looming, Hanson and Hansen were each pleased with their tune-up runs.

“Getting the gold at conference certainly put me in a good spot mentally,” said Hanson. “I think the mentality I had at conference is one I should keep for sectionals. I was focused and hungry for the gold medal, and that day I dug deep to get it.”

“Something that went well was learning to push myself when I have no one next to me,” Hansen said. “It’s not always easy to do that, and I felt I handled that well. Every time I slowed down, I just got this mindset telling me to not back down.”

While neither the Gillett boys or girls teams had five runners to qualify for a team score, that didn’t stop the Tigers from turning in several strong finishes.

Amber Brehmer (23:50.7), Alaina Herzog (23:50.7) and Angela Mosconi (23:52.2) placed ninth, 10th and 11th, respectively, for the girls. Riley Engebretson (19:09.7) and Connor Hanson (19:24.5) took sixth and seventh, respectively, for the boys. Cole Watts (27:34.9) also competed for the boys.

Suring had just two runners compete in the meet, but both placed in the top 10. Freshman Ryann Wagner (21:02.5) came in second, while freshman Maddy Vandevelde (23:42.7) took eighth.

Even after the strong finishes, the freshmen are not completely satisfied.

“I feel that I kept my pace a lot better than I have in the past,” Wagner said. “I also feel that I ran the hills pretty well. I could work on getting a little faster pace because I didn’t run my fastest on Thursday.”

The Lena/St. Thomas Aquinas Academy co-op also sent a total of eight runners to the meet but did not qualify for a team score with only four runners on each team.

Cody Dellise (19:49.4) led the boys team with a ninth-place finish, while Max Beyer (21:17) took 17th. Kiko Cajigas (26:36.1) and Noah Chang (28:48.4) also represented the co-op.

Kennedy Marquardt (22:26.2) paced the girls after finishing fifth but is also hoping for improvement.

“I’m not done yet; there is always room to improve,” she said. “I have been working hard to knock some time off my pace. So I’m looking forward to running a personal best at sectionals.”

Alexis Misco (25:30.8) placed 14th for Lena/STAA, while Megan Shallow (25:43) took 18th. Samara VanArk posted a time of 29:48.9.

Gillett, Suring and the Lena/STAA co-op will all take part in the Division 3 Westfield Area Sectional on Saturday. The races will be run at the high school, with the boys starting at noon and the girls following at 1 p.m.