Doubling the success: Franklin boys, girls cross country teams heading to state
Girls repeat, boys first trip since 2000
Franklin — There will be a special late wedding present from their two teams for Franklin newlyweds and cross country coaches Regina Schindel and Tyler Fyock.
Girls team co-captain Katie Carlino won’t spill the beans as to what it is, but she said it’ll be something they’ll really like. But odds are, however meaningful and lovely the gift is, it’ll pale in comparison to the present the two squads have already given their coaches in the last two weeks, as both Sabers’ squads built on their Southeast Conference championships on Oct. 13 with spectacular finishes in the WIAA sectional meets on Saturday.
The boys, with their championship, earned their first WIAA state meet berth since a run of three slots from 1998-2000, and the girls, with their runner-up showing, earned a repeat berth — a remarkable feat, considering they had to run without two-time individual state champion Allie Fons for much of the fall.
It is believed to be the first time both squads have qualified in the same year.
“This is so really exciting,” Carlino said. “We gave them the two-month anniversary present (with the conference titles) and now this. We’re just so happy for the boys team. They have worked so hard. We’re so happy to be going up (to state) together. It’ll be so much fun.”
Fyock, the boys coach, was thrilled for his team.
“Obviously, I’m overjoyed for the guys," he said. "They keep getting stronger and stronger and it really shows how hard they have been working. Coming out of conference we knew we had a good shot of making the state meet, but I challenged them to think a little bigger. With a good day, I thought winning the meet was very realistic.
“They have been great the last couple weeks at stepping up to those challenges and (the sectional) was a perfect example of that.”
Looking for more at state
The boys will run in the Division 1 race at the Ridges Golf Course in Wisconsin Rapids at 12:20 p.m. Saturday, and the girls, who finished 19th last season, will compete at 2:20 p.m.
This will be the 100th anniversary of the WIAA state meet and while the Franklin boys will just hope for a good showing, the girls will look to improve upon what it accomplished last year.
“Our team has some real competitors on it,” Schindel said. “Katie (Carlino) was mad that it wasn’t the best race for her (at the sectional) and that just shows the heart of this team. I did have to remind them not to be upset about the race, because we have another chance to run our best (at state).”
“We are so psyched to do better,” Carlino added. “I was there last year with Katelyn (Salzburger) and Monica (Sweet). Melanie (Hansen) was just an alternate, but she was there and saw it all, so she’ll be ready, too.”
Some very proud coaches
Both coaches could not have been more pleased with how ready their teams were for the sectional at Grant Park.
The girls finished with 93 points to take second in the 12-school field as Westosha Central won the meet with 64. Oak Creek was just 11 points back of Franklin for the second state team berth. Carlino said there was a simple game plan going in that helped the Sabers grab that second team slot.
“We had a pretty good idea that Oak Creek would be pushing us,” she said, “so we all had to make sure that we would try to get ahead of runners in blue (Oak Creek) and maroon (Westosha). That was the goal.” And it worked pretty well.
Freshman Jensen Ritzow continued her leadership role for the team, taking second on the 4,000-meter course in 15:00, while Carlino was 17th in 15:55. Other scoring runners included Hansen in 20th (16:00), Monica Sweet in 26th (16:15) and Salzburger in 28th (16:21).
Also running were Madeline Gierach in 41st (16:47) and Brenda Sweet in 42nd (16:48).
Carlino said a large sense of personal responsibility helped move the Sabers past the loss of Fons, who ran sparingly this fall after an injury suffered during the track season.
“It was disappointing not to have her run with us, but we knew that we’d still be strong as a team and that she would come to the meets and cheer us on,” Carlino said. “Coach would take time with us after meets and practices and talk about eating well and getting enough sleep and not spending so much time on Twitter or Facebook.
“She held us accountable for that and I think it paid off.”
Personal bests went to Hansen, Brenda Sweet and Gierach on Saturday, while Monica Sweet’s time was a season best.
It was also a great day for the boys, as Franklin (53 points) and Westosha Central (57) dominated the team standings and earned the state team berths in the 12-school field as Kenosha Tremper was a distant third with 113.
Team leader senior Nikolai Grabowski, an individual state qualifier a year ago, said the team was confident going into the meet.
“We knew we had a shot at a team berth,” he said. “We knew that we could do it because we believed in our training. This is such a great way to end the season, to go up there (to Rapids) and run as a team.
“…And this is all on coach. He always told us we had a shot at doing it and he was always encouraging us, especially the younger guys.”
More than just one
Grabowski was third on the 5,000-meter course in (16:42) while fellow team leader Evan Watters was right behind in fourth (16:46). Watters said the qualification makes amends for last year’s sectional.
“We thought we had a chance last year but we screwed it up,” he said. “We went up to watch Nikolai (run at state) but we were disappointed that we didn’t get a chance to run with him.” Now they will.
Other scoring runners for the Sabers included Zach Lee in seventh (16:49), Sam Harmeyer in 18th (17:25) and Max Fassbender in 22nd (17:35). Also running were Ben Alt in 31st (17:58) and Andy Stengel in 68th (19:03).
Fyock couldn’t say enough about the entire team effort, especially Grabowski and Watters.
“Evan and Nikolai were great again,” Fyock said. “The team has leaned on those two lately and they continue to be spectacular. This has been two seniors trying to leave their mark on Franklin’s cross country program and I couldn’t be more proud of their effort and leadership.
“…They’ve (the entire team) done a great job not getting ahead of themselves. Each week we’ve had different goals and they have done a great job focusing on and accomplishing those goals one at a time. The confidence level is sky high.”
Which is another gift in an already happy, present-strewn season.
Editor's note: This story was corrected at 3 p.m. on Tuesday, Oct. 23, per the comment below.
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