Rosholt boys bring home first State Trophy
Portage County Gazette
By John Kemmeter
After a series of close calls over the years, the Rosholt High School boys cross country team came away with the program’s first trophy at the State Meet Saturday, Oct. 27.
Senior Adam Rzentkowski came up short in his bid to win the Individual State Title and placed second for the second year in a row, while the third-ranked Hornets totaled 111 points to finish as the WIAA Division 3 State Runner-up behind top-ranked La Crosse Aquinas (90).
“Obviously, having never picked up a second-place trophy, or a first-place trophy in cross, it’s fantastic,” said Rosholt boys and girls cross country head coach Mike Trzebiatowski. “We ran pretty well, and we broke through.
“There’s nine times we’ve been in the Top 5 with the guys, and 11 times in the Top 5 with the girls,” he said. “But never Top 2.”
The Rosholt boys team made its 14th appearance at state Saturday at The Ridges Golf Course in Wisconsin Rapids, and included in its Top 5 finishes over the years were a pair of program-high third-place finishes in 2010, when they missed a trophy by four points, and last season, when the Hornets had 109 points to finish third behind Darlington (104).
Meanwhile, Rzentkowski looked to challenge senior and two-time Individual State Champion David Vannucchi of Onalaska Luther, after Rzentkowski finished fourth at state as a sophomore and second at state as a junior, and then beat Vannucchi at the Wisconsin Rapids Invitational this season Oct. 6.
Rzentkowski and Vannucchi were running side-by-side near the one-mile marker Saturday, while Rzentkowski (9:54.8) held a slight lead over Vannucchi (9:56.3) at the two-mile marker.
The Hornets also battled for the lead in the team standings, as they sat in first place at the one-mile mark (103 points) ahead of fourth- ranked Darlington (122), second-ranked Onalaska Luther (130) and Aquinas (134), while Aquinas (110) took the lead over Rosholt (124) and Darlington (125) by the two-mile standings.
When the pace vehicle emerged over the final hill to guide the first runners in toward the finish line, Vannucchi was all alone behind it, as he won the Individual State Title for the third year in a row in 15:43.9, while Rzentkowski finished in 16:15.2 to finish as the State Runner-up for the second consecutive season.
“Nobody trains for second place, but I really have to hand it to David Vannucchi, he is a really good runner, and he deserved to win today,” said Rzentkowski. “I put in a lot of effort and I kind of had nothing in the tank with 1,000 meters to go.
“I came through the last hill, and it looked a little ugly, but the goal was just to finish then and just maintain my spot for points-wise, and just contribute to the team as best as I can,” he said.
“Adam just wanted to run to the best of his ability, because he proved that he can beat Vannucchi three weeks ago,” said Trzebiatowski. “It just happened that he hit those hills and he had taken that little bit of snap out of his legs in that last K, he had 4K done and then he hit the little grinder hills, that took a little bit more out of his legs and they felt like jello.
“If we would’ve DNF’d, that would have obviously have been a big blow to us, but he was mentally strong enough, even though he was pretty much out of it the last half mile, and especially the last 100 meters, to get to the (finish) line at least,” he said. “He didn’t quite make the First Team All-State, but he knows he can run with the first four or five guys, and that’s what he’s going to try to prove when he goes to Foot Locker (National Regional) and NXR (Nike Cross Regional).”
Junior Matthew Ross was next in for the Hornets in 21st place overall (12th in team scoring), followed by senior Zach Lepak (42nd overall, 16th in team) and senior Bryan Cook (79th overall, 40th in team).
“For two new kids, two years ago, Matt Ross probably didn’t know what cross was,” said Trzebiatowski. “And Zach came out for track, his first year out for a running sport last spring, and I coerced to give cross a try, and he proved to be a big, strong point being our third runner.
“Cook had a nice ending, especially with his dad having some health issues,” he said. “He wasn’t able to be at the meet, but he was able to come to our little ceremony (Monday) at school, so that was special for Bryan.”
Sophomore Anthony Bianco (80th overall, 41st in team) capped Rosholt’s scoring, while senior Isaiah Cherek was 98th overall and sophomore Sam Trzebiatowski finished 106th overall to close out the lineup.
“Besides Lepak, Bianco’s probably the most improved runner on the team, just because of the fact that he built some confidence, especially the second half of the season where he was able to latch onto our fourth runner with Cook, and he just basically followed Bryan around on Saturday,” said coach Trzebiatowski. “Isaiah ran tough enough to be at the State Meet three years in a row, which is special for him.
“And Sam wanted to definitely be on the first team that would get a trophy, and out of all of the 16 teams, he was the best seventh runner,” he said.
Following the race, Rosholt waited in the fenced-in area for the team scores to be displayed on a nearby video board. Starting from 16th place, team scores were flashed one by one, and Rosholt began to celebrate as it reached the Top 5 and its name still hadn’t been shown, then erupted when Brillion was in third place, which meant the Hornets were in the Top 2.
Rosholt was next up in second place, as the teammates shared hugs before they went over to congratulate State Champion Aquinas.
“It definitely feels amazing, a lot better than last year, where we were all kind of hanging our heads,” said Rzentkowski. “But that’s not the case today, and we’re all happy with what we did.
“We definitely worked our butts off, and we have each other to thank for that and our coaches and our families, who just come out here and support us,” he said. “So we’re happy.”
In the final team standings, top-ranked Aquinas finished with 90 points to win the State Title over third-ranked Rosholt (111), fifth-ranked Brillion (140), fourth-ranked Darlington (147), eighth-ranked Lake Country Lutheran (165) and second-ranked Onalaska Luther (171).
“Our coach is probably one of the hardest-working coaches this sport has ever seen,” said Ross. “And he deserves this win as much as we do.”
“We’ve been getting the third-, and fourth-, and fifth-places finishes, which really serves well for our program, as far as doing justice to what we try to do,” said coach Trzebiatowski. “But we were talking about it the whole season, that we want more than a handshake, and to say ‘good job,’ and Saturday we got a little bit of hardware too.
“They’ve been like a band of brothers and they’ve really pulled together, and I’ve got to give credit to my son Jon, and Joe Trebs and Eugene Trebs, they have helped with boys and girls,” he said. “But they’re just neat kids, and this is a good way for them to end.”