The men entered sectional knowing that all 12 teams would line up tied. The past results meant nothing, and it was today that would decide which two teams and five individuals would advance to state next week. Just one day, but the thoughts of all of the humid summer mornings and daily practices were stored in the back of the minds of the athletes. Today would be about who could hurt the most, and which teams could run for a bigger purpose than themselves.
Entering into this season, we did not have many guys with consistent scoring experience. The top four scorers from 2020 were graduated, and a few other key scorers through the years didn't come out. We were ready to focus on the guys we had, knowing that high school XC success is built on the ability for new athletes to rise up after graduations. A new season brings new hope, and our top five at every meet this year were committed to developing into a strong team.
Patience was necessary, and patience was worth it. The men lined up at sectionals after putting in hours of work running hundreds of miles together. They feared no other team, and cared not at all about previous results, knowing that they were building every week toward their best day. That best day came Saturday.
From the gun, the men got out in great spots. Collin was out in the lead early and we knew it was going to be a great day. He has had a great history of stepping up at the biggest times, and Saturday was no different. This early move definitely amped up his teammates who followed closely behind. Collin fell back into a good spot and maintained that spot while Alex took the role as low stick moving into the top 10 and racing steady. Jack kept being Jack, running smart and putting himself higher and higher up in each race. Behind the solid third were Parker and Carson who would come up big for the team today. Dylen and Frank were having great races as well, with Dylen gaining great experience for future years and Frank getting to cap his senior year in a great race.
The team was running great, but so were Wisconsin Lutheran and Waukesha West. Our coaches knew that to get through, these would be the two teams to beat, but we wouldn't be upset if we ran great. We had to tip our cap to both of those teams if they were to beat us on our best day.
Alex continued to hold around 10th place then moved into 9th, but a huge pack lingered right behind him! He had no clue that he was in a position to qualify as an individual, he was just fighting for the lowest possible points for his team. With that selfless mindset, he ended up holding on to the last individual spot by 0.7 seconds! He held off every guy to finish 9th and be a strong low stick. Coming shortly later was Collin in 16th, who had an awesome third mile moving up from 17th and providing a good 1-2 scoring duo. These are the top two we knew we had all year and it was the race we waited for to see them both come in like that.
Then came our 3-5 in tandem right after with Carson moving up 9 spots the last mile to be our 4th man! That was huge points for us, while Jack moved up 2 spots and Parker maintained his position as our 5th man. Being able to compete as a team is always dependent on your whole team, not just your top 1 or 2 runners. Today, we put 5 in the top 33 in the toughest sectional in the state! The team ran their best race of their season and lives thus far, and it ended in a 4th place finish. We tipped our cap.
For younger athletes, they got to see the power of a loving team as well as the importance of off season running. Our top 5 scorers were the most consistent guys in the off season and it showed on Saturday. The men got to see what it takes to get to the state meet. Our 4th place finish was actually the 10th best team performance in the entire state this week if you were to combine all the results. It shows that when it mattered, we were once again a top program. This also shows that you need to run fast no matter what sectional you are in. Some years and locations will be tougher, but you can't control that. You can control the vision of the team and how you want to work together to create something great. Have no limits.
This team is the best I have coached. That is the hope with each season, that you coach the best team, but it is always up to the men to choose what kind of team they want to be. Starting back at CWES camp last summer, this team wanted to rise up and be great. They were the unknowns, the ones who weren't given a shot, but the same ones that didn't care what others thought. They trusted in their progression and put themselves in contention on the day it mattered. That fourth place finish to us coaches was a very proud moment because we know what these guys have done to be here. They got the most out of themselves by putting in the miles and then racing with love. Just check out the monster improvements from last year and you'll get a glimpse of the story of this team.
Alex advanced to the state meet as an individual after running the 10th fastest time in school history! The whole team helped create the moment and without them, Alex wouldn't be the same runner. We hope to see many of the guys come up Saturday to watch him compete! I know many of the seniors are planning to drive up and will be talking to younger athletes in giving them rides. See the information below on tickets and parking. It will be a great meet and a great opportunity for Alex to have his best race. As always, there are bigger things to come!
2021 Hale XC Results.
Monday, I am asking all athletes to come after school to our usual practice spot where they will turn in their CLEAN uniforms and locks. I will be there to check them off and it will be a quick process. We will then have a team meeting for ALL athletes to start practice at 3:30. We will recap sectionals and lessons learned, and talk about the next steps for athletes. We are highly encouraging athletes to continue training with Alex this week and I know many of the boys are planning to.
Awards Banquet and Potluck sign up!
Our 2021 team banquet is planned for Wednesday, November 3rd at 6:00 p.m. and will be held at Free Methodist Church - 2975 S. Sunny Slope Road. We would like to do a potluck once again and encourage parents/families to sign up to bring food!
Potluck Sign up here!
State Meet Spectators Info
The division 1 race is at 12:35 P.M. at the Ridges Golf Course in Wisconsin Rapids. See the website below for all race times. See the links below for tickets/shuttle information. Gear is available to buy at the meet site.
All tickets are cashless and must be purchased ahead of time. You can do so at the link provided below,
All information on the state meet can be found at the WIAA website,
GMC Conference Recap
The purpose has been clear, the guys run for a bigger purpose than themselves. They race these championship meets for their team. That has been the building focus from the start of the season, and the men are really building on this concept in practices and meets. The selflessness to race for your teammates is what has produced a great progression and some great racing.
The GMC Conference meet now splits the first race into two which I love because it intentionally creates a situation where athletes are put up front in a race. Put into a new position is in itself a risk, and risks are what create breakthroughs especially for younger athletes.
In that first race, Kai Bruner took advantage of the opportunity and put himself out in front at the 300 meter mark of the race. He was out great, but honestly made me nervous for a bit for how long he kept the pedal down early. He wisely found a nicer pace early and came around the mile around 20th place. From there, he got stronger and stronger, moving up to finishing 12th and running a personal best time of over 2 minutes! Kai thus far has gone from not being able to run 5000 meters in practice, to racing 26:03 in his first 5k, and now to running 19:30 this week at conference. The coaches have always seen a powerful runner in Kai and believe his potential is great if he chooses to build off of it. Congrats on a big step!
Continuing the momentum from that race, Will Zagzebski came rolling in next with a personal best time and continues to improve over the past few weeks. Robert Petrovick brought good energy and brough home his best race of the season as our 3rd man. Kyle Steele had a huge personal best coming in as our 4th man while Ryan Bergeman gutted it out to finish as our 5th man. Jon Kuchinskas continues to improve and ran an awesome race! He put himself up into a racing position and should have the confidence to continue growing. Emmanuel Continues to improve and has really started developing a runner's stride!
In the second race, the men got trapped behind the masses early which meant they would have to move up. This course narrows quickly and some of the younger guys got caught early. Frank Bevsek was able to get out in great position and run a fast first mile and hold on as our first runner. His brother David continues to improve and came in as our 2nd runner in a personal best time. Chase Witty, Mikey Lee and Bronco were the next three in, all running personal best times and races. Bronco joined Kai as their first time under 20 which is always a great starting spot for freshmen. Elijah narrowly missed the 20 minute barrier, but time is irrelevant and his focus will be on keeping a positive mindset when the race isn't going as you imagined. It's a skill that is developed to be able to adjust to different feelings of races and different scenarios. He's part of that young core that we know has months and years of good learning and consistent running to keep developing into a top tier team.
Then, it was finally the time for the varsity racers who did a wonderful job supporting their teammates and getting fired up from the great performances from them. Our focus this past week was on getting out in great position at the mile then turning it on into race mode the 2nd mile. The men got out through the mile in fantastic positioning and executed extremely well. Alex was focused on winning the race behind the guys who we knew would be out in the lead. Collin was working his way up smoothly while Jack, Carson and Parker rolled through together with Dylen right behind. The 2nd mile went mostly smooth as well as guys moved up or maintained positioning.
Sometimes, things happen that you can't expect and Carson lost his shoe at about the halfway mark of the race. But as he knows, a team standard is no excuses, and he wasted no time getting himself back into racing mode and doing his best for the team. He ended up holding on as our 5th man and was disappointed to be back further than he normally would be for the team. The unexpected does happen in races, and it was an experience that Carson and the team will use to get better from headed into sectionals this week. Setbacks seem terrible when they happen, but there comes a day that you look back and are thankful for the setback as it made you better. We believe in Carson and that the day will be this Saturday where he uses the race as motivation to come in confident and relaxed ready to run with his team.
Alex kept moving his way up and fighting off guys behind him, finishing 7th overall and earning first team all conference honors. In the GMC, earning all conference is very significant. Collin did an awesome job keeping his spot and finishing 12th to earn 2nd team all conference honors. Not far behind came Jack who finished with 24th to snag the last all conference spot for 3rd team. This is the first team I have coached as a head coach which has had 3 men earn all conference! Congratulations to all three on the honor and well earned. Bigger things to come.
Parker fought well and is excited to move up this next week into a lower scoring spot. He finished as our 4th man and was in great position. He and all of the guys have a lot of fire power to really make even a bigger jump this week and put us in a position to qualify as a team. Dylen Eiler finished as the 6th man and had a great first mile. His feedback was he wanted to work on his 2nd mile and get into the 17s for sectionals.
2021 Hale XC Results.
Upcoming Week - Sectionals and JV State
Sectionals week is always an exciting week. For our men, the message is clear. We keep things focused on our standards and our team, we don't worry what other teams are doing, and we run with love for each other. These men have made the coaches proud on their love for each other and being team oriented. Their understanding in that has only grown as the season has gone on, and that has made us a dangerous team as we head into sectionals! We believe in these men and are excited for the opportunity to continue the season for another week. The top two teams will advance to state and so will the top 5 individuals not from those teams. Love wins.
Our non-sectional racers will be able to finish their season at Grant Park in a fast racing opportunity. For seniors in this race, it will be the last race as a Husky so let it all out on the course!! For younger athletes, use this week as another opportunity to learn and get better, while keeping the mind on the bigger picture. What type of team do you forsee in the future? A team that trains together in the off season can do powerful things and build on the Hale tradition and history.
All sectional racers will go to watch the meet Thursday, and all JV state racers will come to watch the team Saturday at sectionals. On Saturday, we expect our non racers to let the racers be focused on their race and we will have them go on a run with coach and get ready to spread out in quiet spots to be loud and support their teammates. They will be positive and supportive and bring good energy to the team. This is a chance for young athletes to see what championship racing is all about.
All athletes will practice Friday as well, and just the sectionals racers will have a dinner gathering this week at Jack Hutter's house. Next week we will have our state qualifying athletes continuing practice and it will be optional for others. For guys racing Thursday as their last race, I will communicate information on an end of the season meeting, 1x1 meeting, uniforms, our awards ceremony and later yet some information on winter running with a blog next week.
Let's embrace each day together and make it a great week!
You are ready to go. #ForTheTeam
JV State Meet Info
Sectionals Meet Info
A proud tradition. Let's keep it rolling. Love you guys.
Viking Invite Recap
The men competed close to home at the always competitive Viking Invitational. Coming from our off weekend of racing, it's our final tune up before entering the post season competitions.
In the JV race, David Bevsek lead the scoring once again as he continues to progress this season. The four freshmen in the race all ran lifetime bests, with Elijah scoring in the top 5 for the first time in his career. 'Papa' John Kuchinskas had a huge breakthrough race running 27:20 and came back on Saturday probably running faster on his run at Minooka Park, meaning a huge drop is still to come.
Overall, we had a lot of good things happen in that first race! A point of emphasis heading into conference for these guys is when the race gets tough to be focused on the team and overcoming for the team. David moved up nicely and we are going to work on getting our squad to move with him this week. The race will be fast and a great opportunity to get after it and see some very impressive performances.
In the varsity race, we saw our five scorers come through with a 30 second spread. Senior captains, Alex and Collin paced the scoring 5 up front. Jack Hutter continues to drop time each race and has been our most consistent man this fall. Parker Szura trusted himself to get out more conservative, trusting his fitness and racing ability to move up throughout the race and run to a near 30 second lifetime best and finishing as our 3rd man this week. Carson rounded out the scoring with Dylen coming in as our 6th man in a season best time. It has been great to have our scorers finishing in different spots every meet as it allows our guys to not have a pecking order. Selflessness and working together are the best chance at success no matter the order. The men finished 5th place, matching our 2019 finish at this invitational. The 2019 team went on to finish 15th at the state meet. Our team this year are ready for the challenge and excited to come together for some big performances down the stretch.
Thanks to the guys who helped carpool to Minooka Park long run practice Saturday! Thanks to the parents who drove athletes out as well and always for the support.
The Journey Continues
The culmination of the regular season brings a clean slate across the state of Wisconsin. Rankings are thrown out the window, previous failures have been forged into learning experiences, and past successes provide the momentum as great opportunity awaits these hard working athletes. Each week brings a new chance to get better and the next three weeks will be no different. When teams toe the line, anxiously waiting for the gun, it will be 5000 meters that decide the race. When the gun is fired, the mind will go blank as athletes shoot off the line and get into position. In the midst of the race, battles will be waged inside the mind of every athlete. The champions will be the ones with a willingness to hurt more than they ever have, more than anyone else, and to run for something bigger than themselves. Trusting their hard work that allowed for the opportunity, and being privileged to be in the position they are.
As we head into conference, sectionals and state, we are business as usual. We cherish every opportunity to compete. We live our standards and pursue our best as a team. Our biggest focus will continue to be running for the team. Motivate each other and put the team above everything else. Let's build and love our way to an amazing three weeks!
GMC Conference Week
Meet lineups and information link from the meet hosts are in the document below.
There is no pasta party planned this week. I am thinking some guys might want to get together at Noodles or somewhere else after pratice. We can discuss this week.
GMC Meet Information