The Shorewood cross country program was bold to strike an arrangement with Milwaukee Rufus King and host a joint WIAA D1 and D2 sectional meet at Lincoln Park Golf Course on Oct. 22.
A beautiful day, lots of fans, and a course that received rave reviews seemed to validate the Greyhounds' decision
And then the Shorewood boys team made the bet really pay off by taking second to Wisconsin Lutheran and earning an 18th straight WIAA D2 state meet berth.
In short, it was an excellent mix of something old and something new for the Greyhounds, mixing the expected with the unexpected.
"It was a very solid job," said Greyhounds boys coach Dominic Newman. "I was really happy with some of our other athletes today. There were people who stepped up today when others were just a little off their games. And it was good that we did it in front of so many alumni, both runners and parents of runners. That tradition and experience always helps. It keeps it all second nature within the program."
Senior Gabe Baumann, the only senior on the team, agreed.
"Guys grow up on this stuff," he said. "Almost all the guys on the team had either brothers or sisters who went out for cross country and were on state teams. This team certainly knows what the state meet is like."
That they do.
Shorewood will toe the line at the WIAA D2 State Meet at 12:35 p.m. Saturday, Oct. 29, at the Ridges Golf Course in Wisconsin Rapids. The Greyhounds enter the meet ranked sixth in the most recent state poll as Wisco holds down the top spot, just ahead of Monroe.
The Greyhound boys will be joined at state by Mari Kessenich of the girls team, who advanced as an individual, after a disappointing finish fourth-place finish for the squad in the sectional race. That race will take place at 2:25 p.m.
Expectations remain high as always for the Shorewood boys.
"We're going for podium (a top-two spot), that's what we always do," said Baumann.
The Greyhounds ran a measured and smart race on the 5,000-meter rolling, two-loop course to earn their state spot out of the 10-team sectional field. They turned in a 52-point total, as Wisco put three runners in the top five and scored just 29 points for the easy win.
Henry Kuhlmann and Baumann ran together and and finished sixth and seventh, respectively, both clocked in 17:22 to lead the way, while freshman Lucas Florsheim came up with a big race to take eighth in 17:28. Other scoring runners included Ray Oechler in 14th (17:42) and Kai Gietzen in 17th (17:54).
Also running were Will Vuyk in 19th (17:57) and Leo Fowler in 26th (18:15).
Newman couldn't praise the effort of Florsheim enough. He's one of those sibling runners, whose talented sisters, Haley and Morgan, set a strong example for him.
"It was so great that Lucas got this experience," said Newman. "He was our second runner through 4,000 meters and then he held on. That experience of watching his sisters really helped him."
Florsheim is the first freshman to make it to state for the Shorewood boys in six years. Newman also praised the effort of Oechler.
Baumann said that the tradition of team success at Shorewood is something real and tangible and that no one in the program wants to let it down.
"All four years I've been with the program, we've gone (to state)," he said. "Each year we go, 18 years in a row. That really says something."
The Shorewood girls had a bit harder time at the sectional. The Greyhounds got out fast, but could not quite hold on, taking fourth in the nine-full-team field with 85 points as Wisconsin Lutheran (28) and Grafton (61) earned the team state meet berths with New Berlin West taking third (71).
The junior Kessenich earned her individual spot with a ninth-place effort of 20:54 to lead the way. Other scoring runners included Lily Keane in 14th (21:00), Felicity Hade in 18th (21:21), Lydia Anshus in 20th (21:32), and Morgan Lock in 24th (21:50). Other runners included Ava Reinhoffer in 29th (22:05) and Ashley Kinnard in 30th (22;13).
Coach Sarah Kopplin couldn't quite explain what happened.
"For whatever reason, we just didn't run well," she said. "We've beaten Grafton, we've beaten New Berlin West numerous times. They had good runs, but we didn't. It's just disappointing."