It was no secret that the Osceola Chieftains had a really good cross country team. Week after week, meet after meet they competed with some of the best competition in the region and week after week they put up impressive performances. Even after seeing Osceola several times this year perhaps no one knew just how good they were. The Chieftains put an explanation point on their fabulous season last Saturday at the State meet in Wisconsin Rapids. The Osceola girls placed second as a team behind only Shorewood in their D-2 race. The Chieftain boys ended their season with a 13th place finish with Valders taking the top spot.
“It’s hard to sum up in words how incredible Saturday was,” Osceola coach Rachael Robinson said. “The girls team went to Wisconsin Rapids with a target in mind and all seven of them executed. Together they chased down a total of 42 athletes in the final mile to capture second place. Caroline Gearin showed incredible strength over the last mile moving up 23 of those 42 places. It was a big senior moment for her. Rachel (Ulrich’s) willingness to go straight to the front resulted in a top ten finish which earned her an individual award and put her on the podium. Lauren Ellefson, who has now raced at the State meet three times, posted her best time and place on the course. Chloe Backlund ran a career PR (personal record) and raced with a focus on one thing, her best race possible. Alli Fogelberg stayed right on Chloe’s heels running down every athlete she could to close the gap between the competition and her teammate. Like she has all season, Shaylee Feske demonstrated consistency and reliability by outpacing other team’s sixth runner and finally Tia Foster running on the State course for her first time, posted a time only seconds off her personal best.”
Second place is the highest team finish in school history. Although there is ample time for Osceola to absorb the impressive team performance, one can’t help but look ahead to next season already. The Chieftains graduate only Gearin from this year’s girls’ team.
“The State course was a fast paced race that both mentally and physically challenged me,” Ulrich said in describing the State meet. “I am extremely happy with how both myself, and my team raced. There were a lot of talented girls there and I am so proud of what we accomplished.” Ulrich’s fifth place finish was the highest among all of the freshmen in the state.
The Osceola boys team also finished the season on a high note. The Chieftains ended their season with a 13th place finish among the best D-2 teams in the state.
“Jacob Hall and Nick Kremer both ran the best times of their career and the rest of the team finished with times very close to their personal records as well,” Robinson said. “I know it meant a great deal to the six senior boys to end their season at the State meet. This is the fourth consecutive year the Osceola boys have competed at the State meet and it marks their highest finish. As coaches we are proud of every single athlete for representing their school and community well.”
Although the Osceola girls have the bulk of their varsity returning, the boys are on the other end of the spectrum. The Chieftains will graduate four of the seven State varsity runners (Kremer, David Olson, Zach Solsrud and Sean Rogers) and a ton of other runners who helped the team throughout the season.
“We say goodbye to fifteen seniors who have been the pulse of this team,” Robinson said. “Their absence will definitely be felt next season. They have brought an immense amount of talent, personality, and experience. We would like to thank Ari Backlund, Michaela Schultz, Caroline Gearin, Mari Valbuena, Elvis Cormican, Jed Durand, Riley Koosman, Jacob Jenson, Jack Morrison, Blake Slater, Ethan Robinson, Sean Rogers, David Olson, Nick Kremer, and Zach Solsrud for all they have contributed to the program. The examples they have set will push our younger athletes to continue competing at high levels.”