Amherst’s Niggemann wins Division 3 State Title
High School senior
Alissa Niggemann won the 3 Individual State Title at the WIAA Division
3 State Meet at The Ridges Golf Course in Wisconsin
Rapids Saturday, Oct. 31.
Niggemann was neck-and-neck with sophomore Elena Schmidt of
Westby heading into the last quarter-mile stretch of the race, and pulled ahead
in the final meters to finish with a time of 19:00.40 to win the Individual
State Title over Schmidt (19:01.25).
“It’s amazing,” said Niggemann. “I don’t think I can put it
into any other words.”
Niggemann, who moved to Amherst from Wisconsin Rapids when
she was in third grade, ran at state as a freshman when the Falcons qualified
as a team, and she finished 31st overall.
She qualified as an individual as a sophomore and reached
the podium after she placed sixth, and then qualified again last year as an
individual and finished eighth overall.
“There’s probably a few people who doubted that I could win
after my eighth-place finish last year,” said Niggemann. “They were probably
like, ‘sophomore year she peaked, she’s had her time.’
“But eighth here was a huge disappointment for me, I
actually went home and cried,” she said. “Most girls dream of getting in the
Top 10, but I’m very hard on myself, and I really wanted to win this.”
Niggemann spent most of her meets this season running in the
front pack with junior and defending Division 3 State Champion Delaney
Greene-Gretzinger of Marion and sophomore Erika Kisting of Iola-Scandinavia,
and finished ahead of both to win the Sectional Title at Standing Rocks County
Park Oct. 24, where the Falcons placed second as a team to also advance to
At the State Meet Saturday, Niggemann was again in the lead
pack with Greene-Gretzinger and Kisting from the start, while they were joined
by Schmidt, who held the lead at the one-mile mark (5:51), followed by
Niggemann (5:52), Kisting (5:53) and Greene-Gretzinger (5:57) in fourth.
At the two-mile mark, Schmidt remained in the lead at
(12:13), with Kisting (12:14) Niggemann (12:15) and Greene-Gretzinger (12:18)
on her heels and just over a mile to go.
“I was kind of lagging off a little bit, coming into the
second mile,” said Niggemann. “But my goal was just to keep contact the whole
time, and I planned for it to be a sprint finish, no matter what.
“That’s how I imagined it, replaying it through my head the
night before,” she said.
As the first runners emerged down the final quarter-mile
stretch of the race, it was Niggemann and Schmidt almost even, as they raced
side-by-side, battling for first place as they headed toward the finish line.
“I was like, ‘well, I better go now, or it’s never,’” said
Niggemann. “And I was surprised by her determination to stay right with me.
“That was just a ‘who wanted it more sprint,’” she said. “My
legs were going out, I don’t know how her legs felt, but me, I was just like,
‘I can’t lose.’”
Niggemann pulled ahead of Schmidt by a few feet as she
neared the finish, and began to flash a smile just before she crossed in
19:00.40, as she beat Schmidt (19:01.25) for the State Title.
“I didn’t know I was smiling, but it felt amazing,” said
Niggemann. “When I envisioned iin my head, if I ever did win, I thought I’d be
like, ‘yay, that wasn’t that bad.’
“But I was like, ‘oh god, thank goodness this is over.’”
Meanwhile, Kisting (19:12.18) came in third and
Greene-Gretzinger (19:17.14) placed fourth.
“They definitely have helped me this whole season, helping
me get my times, helping me with just that competitive feel,” said Niggemann.
“And it felt almost like a normal race when Erika took the lead (early on).”
The Amherst girls finished 10th as a team with 244 points,
as top-ranked Oshkosh Lourdes had 98 points to beat second-ranked Westby (105)
and ninth-ranked Colfax (127) for its third consecutive Team State Title.
Niggemann’s State Title was the second in Amherst girls cross country history, as Sulla
Pulli won in 2000, while the other area girls cross country runners who won
Individual State Titles are Suzy Favor of Stevens Point Area Senior High School
(SPASH) (1982 through 1985), Jessie Bushman of Rosholt (1991) and Tami Scott of
The State Title was also Niggemann’s second in the last
year, as she won the Girls Classical Pursuit State Championship in cross
country skiing last February at the Wisconsin High School Nordic Championships.
“It feels really good,” said Niggemann. “I have to thank so
many people for that; my teammates and my coaches; I wouldn’t be where I am now
“It’s not just the individual, it’s the people surrounding
the individual that helps them to accomplish those kind of goals,” she said.
Niggemann also thanked her parents Dale and Susan.
“They’ve been so supportive,” said Niggemann. “When I come
home with sore calves, my mom’s like, ‘oh, I’ll massage them for you,’ and
they’re always making sure I’m eating healthy.
“They’re always there for me, and they’ve never doubted me,”
Meanwhile, Niggemann got the chance to end her high school
cross country career Saturday by winning the State Title in the city where she
“My mom mentioned that to me this morning, she’s like, ‘you
know what, you deserve it,’” said Niggemann. “‘You were born here, you were
raised here, and you’re coming back. Go and win it.’
“And there is no better way to finish it,” she said. “It’s
just a dream come true.”