10/24/2017 7:26:00 AM State bound FitzPatrick, Peterson win sectional titles to help Lakeland advance to state
Jeremy Mayo/River News
Lakelands Kav FitzPatrick won the WIAA Division 2 Sectional meet on Saturday, Oct. 21, at Waupaca High School. FitzPatrick became the first male in school history to win sectionals in back-to-back seasons.
Jeremy Mayo/River News
Lakeland sophomore Ashley Peterson became the second female in school history to win the WIAA Division 2 Sectional championship on Saturday, Oct. 21, at Waupaca High School.
WAUPACA - Lakeland Union High School attempted to make history Saturday in the WIAA Division 2 Waupaca Sectional meet by winning four consecutive boys' cross country championships.
Heading into the day, it was the girls' team looking to avoid the threat of Medford after the Lady Raiders nipped the Thunderbirds the week prior at the Great Northern Conference meet. The girls' team indeed evaded Medford on Saturday, but it was the boys' team which was stunned by the Raiders.
Lakeland scored 89 points, with three runners finishing in the top five, but Medford scored 78, with all seven of its runners placing in the top 36, which made the difference.
"As I was riding home I was think of a Rolling Stones quote. 'You can't always get what you want, but you might get what you need,'" LUHS head coach Kevin FitzPatrick said. "Our boys ran well. Looking at the stats from a year ago, Kav (FitzPatrick), Darius (Diver) and Jack (Garcia) all ran faster than they did last year on this course. Medford had three guys that ran better than they did last week and their top two guys did what they did last weekend. We had one run better than he did last weekend. That was really the difference."
Despite placing second, Lakeland's boys' team still advances to the state meet for the fourth year in a row, becoming the second team in school history to accomplish such a feat since the volleyball program did so from 1990-93.
On top of that, Kav FitzPatrick became the first T-Bird boy to win back-to-back individual sectional titles, edging teammate Darius Diver by roughly 20 seconds.
"(Kav's) been running extremely well," coach FitzPatrick said. "Darius has been running extremely well. In any other year, Darius is our No. 1 guy by a long shot. We have a really good group with Kav, Darius and Jack. They push each other and it's brought them each to a higher level. Those guys are running really well and Kav has had an outstanding year to date and hopefully that will continue into the next week or so."
Diver will run in his fourth consecutive state meet, while fellow senior Jack Garcia will do the same after placing fifth in the meet.
Freshman Alec Steinberger, who ran the JV race at the GNC meet last week, placed 34th, while Jim Drewry finished 47th.
"It is what it is," FitzPatrick said. "You know every kid out there ran the best the could and that's all you can ask for. It's not like some sports, where if you're second you're done. We still get to go to state. While it would have been awesome to win that fourth sectional title in a row, we've been kind of behind the eight-ball all year and we've done extremely well in getting a team together that's a championship caliber team."
The girls' team also placed second, despite scoring three fewer points than last year's sectional championship team. Lakeland advances to state for the second year in a row after that hope was in doubt heading into the meet.
After Medford nipped them for the GNC title and Freedom being the heavy favorite, it was going to be a tall task.
The Lady Raiders ran its best meet at the GNC meet, and the T-Birds withstood the blow and were able return the favor Saturday by scoring 73 points to Medford's 85.
Aubrey Anderson placed 10th, which is a major factor considering Medford's top three runners placed seventh, 14th and 15th. Maddie Nelson placed 19th, while freshmen Kate Melms and Mia Case came up big by placed 20th and 23rd respectively, as Medford's fourth and fifth runners were 24th and 25th.
"I've had teams in the past that are sometimes afraid of competition. They're great athletes, they have great talent, but they get into meets and they're kind of fearful of that situation, whereas these girls are fighters," FitzPatrick said. "Not that they don't think about what they need to do, but they're fearless. They go into the competition thinking, 'I can do this' and they showed that today."
While Lakeland came in second in the team competition, Ashley Peterson continued her superb season by becoming the second girl in school history (Lauren Schilling in 2014) to win a sectional championship.
One year after placing 20th overall as Lakeland's fourth-fastest runner at sectionals, Peterson's time of 19:56.89 was nearly 10 seconds faster than the rest of the field.
"That's a testament to her and what she's done all season," FitzPatrick said. "Lauren was the first girl three years ago and for Ashley to do that, it was pretty impressive. She ran a very controlled race and just kind of ran away with it."
Lakeland advances to compete in the WIAA Division State Championships on Saturday at Wisconsin Rapids.
Nick Sabato may be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or via Twitter @SabatoNick.