Cross-country: Hanson, Wagner relish first state runs

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Hansen places 27th in D3 girls race

Gillett sophomore Derek Hanson (8) runs near the front of the pack at the start of the Division 3 state boys race at Ridges Golf Course in Wisconsin Rapids on Saturday. (Times Herald photo by Morgan Rode)

If you asked high school athletes to tell you the perfect way to end their season, most — if not all — would respond by saying competing at state.

The Gillett duo of Sylvia Hansen and Derek Hanson and Suring’s Ryann Wagner got to end their respective seasons at state Saturday, competing in the WIAA State Cross-Country Championships at Ridges Golf Course in Wisconsin Rapids.

Hansen placed 27th in the Division 3 girls race after posting a time of 20 minutes, 20.9 seconds. Wagner was not far behind, posting a time of 20:45.1 to take 41st.

In the Division 3 boys race, Hanson completed the state course in 17:28.1 to take 43rd.

“Exhausted, kind of satisfied. It wasn’t the best race of my life, but I certainly thought I did good for my first time here,” Hanson said.

“I feel like I did really good. I didn’t run my best time of the year, but probably ran my second-best time,” Wagner said. “It was kind of just a learning experience with it being my first year here.”

Hansen, who placed third at state as a freshman, started strong and was among a large group of girls near the front of the race. After posting a 5:51 first mile time, a hip injury she also dealt with at sectionals slowed the sophomore down.

Despite not finishing as well as she would have hoped, Hansen still enjoyed the thrill of competing in front of so many people and against the state’s top runners.

“You definitely feel like you are in the spotlight,” she said. “It’s nice to know that all the fans that are coming really do care and to drive that far just to come watch is such a great feeling. Racing against some of the best runners in the state and being one of the best runners in the state is just amazing.”

While Hansen was familiar with the excitement and energy involved with the state meet, Hanson and Wagner were each getting their first tastes of competing at the state championships.

Hanson ran a 5:06 first mile and was near the front of the pack before slipping back a few places.

While he is hoping to improve upon his state standing over the course of his high school career, he also soaked up every minute of his first state experience and left it all out on the course.

The sophomore credited his success this year to the work he put in during the summer months.

“I’m proud (to have made it here). I think that my summer training put me in a good spot to get here, and that just kind of carried me over to state,” he said.

Like the Gillett duo, Wagner also started her race out strong. A 6:11 time on the first mile had her just behind the lead pack of girls but also ahead of the next bunch of runners.

Seeing and hearing the crowd in attendance served as a motivator for the freshman instead of something that often can overwhelm first-time state runners.

“It was crazy. I’ve never experienced something like that. It’s cool to see all the people and how loud it is,” she said. “I kind of feed off that energy. I wasn’t super nervous because of it being my first year, and I was just kind of learning.”

With the season now in the history books, the local trio hopes to learn from their strong seasons and put in the extra work heading into to next year to try and not only return to state but close in on reaching the ultimate goal of winning state titles.

Girls team championships: Division 1 - Muskego 48; Division 2 - Medford 106; Division 3 - Lancaster 74.

Boys team championships: Division 1 - Neenah 122; Division 2 - Valders 98; Division 3 - Aquinas 90.

Individual girls championships: Division 1 - Genevieve Nashold, Madison West, 18:10; Division 2 - Leah Kralovetz, Denmark, 17:46.7; Division 3 - Marissa Ellenbecker, Edgar, 19:06.4.

Individual boys championships: Division 1 - Drew Bosley, Homestead, 15:20.1; Division 2 - Henry Chapman, East Troy, 15:59.3; Division 3 - David Vannucchi, Luther, 15:43.9.