SPASH girls run to sixth-place finish at state
The 13th-ranked Stevens Point Area Senior High School (SPASH) girls cross country team placed sixth at the WIAA Division 1
State Meet at The Ridges Golf Course in Wisconsin Rapids
Saturday, Oct. 29.
Following a State Runner-up finish in 2014, the Panthers missed out on a trip to state last year, but qualified for the State Meet this season by winning the SPASH Sectional Oct. 22.
At state Saturday, freshman Maddie Hyland finished 20th overall in 19:19.63 to
lead the way for SPASH.
“It was really different than I thought, but it was really
cool,” said Hyland of running at state. “I really had a good time, and I’m very
happy with my place as well.”
“Maddie had a fantastic race,” said SPASH girls cross
country head coach Mike Olson. “It equaled her best race of the year, which was
run on a much flatter, faster course.
“So to do it here with all of this traffic and all of that
competition, it says a lot for her,” he said. “It was a great, great race for a
freshman to come in here and do that.”
Senior Mya Zajakowski was 78th in 20:05.18, followed by
sophomore Grace Belson (86th), sophomore Madelyn Schneider (94th), sophomore
Carly Olsen (113th), junior Kaylee Newland (116th) and junior Madison DeBot
“It was a really great experience,” said Zajakowski. “It was
my last race, and I thought our team competed well.”
“Mya, our senior leader, went out in style,” said Olson.
“And the rest of the girls ran very good, solid races. They stayed together,
fought hard at the end and picked off a bunch of people in the last half mile.
“Right on down the line, Grace and Maddie Schneider and
Carly have done great, they’ve all worked hard together,” he said. “And then
our bumpers, Kaylee and Miranda, both did excellent jobs, too.”
The Panthers finished with 216 points, while top-ranked Sun Prairie had
82 to win the State Title over third-ranked Hartland Arrowhead (162), eighth-ranked Kettle Moraine (175),
second-ranked Waukesha West (197), sixth-ranked Eau Claire Memorial (213), SPASH and fifth-ranked Divine Savior Holy
“We were hoping to get top five, but it was still a lot
better than we thought,” said Hyland. “We were all really happy with sixth.”
“That was good for us, because we were coming in ranked
13th,” said Zajakowski. “So to go and drop seven places, that’s something we
can be really proud of.”
For next season, the Panthers lose Zajakowski, but are set
to return the rest of their lineup from the State Meet.
“It’s been a fantastic six years,” said Zajakowski, who has
run in the program since seventh grade. “No other program around here pumps out
as good of runners as SPASH does, and it was just an honor to compete here.
“I’m just going to remember the team and how much fun we had
in competing together, and all of the memories we made,” she said. “And in the
next couple of years, our team will be really, really good.”
“Mya’s been outstanding,” said Olson. “She was part of the
second-place team (at state) two years ago, I know it disappointed her as much
as it did us coaches last year to not make it as a team after we had done so
well the year before, but she fought back and came back with a vengeance and
did a great job leading us.
“She’s one of those kids that’s tough to replace, and we’ll
miss her next year,” he said. “But the future’s bright. If the girls put in the
work over the summer and get focused for the season, we’ll do great.”