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Cheesemakers finish 5th at state
Photo for the Times: Duke Goetz Monroe sophomore Steve Christiansen (483), junior Joel Henry (465) run out of the gates during Saturdays WIAA Division 2 state cross country meet at The Ridges Golf Course in Wisconsin Rapids.
WISCONSIN RAPIDS - Monroe's boys cross country team finished fifth as a team at Saturday's WIAA Division 2 state cross country meet at The Ridges Golf Course.

"We capped off a fantastic season by running a very strong race," said Dave Hirsbrunner, Monroe head coach. "When the race ended, we knew we were in contention. The 20 minutes or so that it took to get the score seemed like an hour. We were all standing together waiting to see where we finished. It was a very exciting, weird feeling. The entertainment value was priceless."

Senior Dylan Stark led the Cheesemakers, finishing 25th overall with a time of 17 minutes, 11.1 seconds in the 5,000-kilometer race.

"Dylan got out nicely," Hirsbrunner said. "(But he) got a little separated from the first two lead packs, then spent the majority of the middle of the race trying to get back up. He capped off a very nice high school career by running at the state meet."

Sophomore Steve Christiansen (17:38.3) was the second Cheesemaker to cross the finish line, finishing 57th, followed by freshman Ethan Moehn (17:40, 63rd place).

"Steve got out very strong and raced well throughout the entire 5,000 meters. He continued his hot streak," Hirsbrunner said. "Ethan's dream season also continued. He was the fifth man for the majority of the season. What a way to step up this year as a freshman and race against anyone and everyone."

Juniors Luke Peterson (17:40.7) and Joel Henry (17:41.3) capped Monroe's top five, coming in 67th and 69th place.

"Our three, four and five (runners) worked well together. They were really moving up and picking people off the last 1,000 meters or so. In fact, if we could have had another 200 meters we may have made up enough ground to win it. Our gap from first to fifth was 30 seconds," Hirsbrunner said.

Other Cheesemakers running were senior Travis Lehnherr (18:26.1, 114th place) and sophomore Brian Schneider (19:09.4, 135th place).

New Glarus-Monticello sophomore Ryan McCoy took fifth overall with a time of 16:20.9.

Valders sophomore Michael Evans won the Division 2 meet with a time of 16:07.9. Shorewood won the team title with 146 points. Dodgeville-Mineral Point (154), Port Washington (155) and Ashland (156) rounded out the top four. Monroe had 169 points, three ahead of sixth-place Pewaukee.

"They upset No. 1-ranked team (Pewaukee) and finished 23 points from winning the state title," Hirsbrunner said. "In my coaching career, this is the second closest we have ever been to winning a title. Twenty-three points is not very many in a meet of this size. That comes down to just a few spots from each of the guys."

In 2006, Monroe was just two points from the state championship.

"Having a young team, we are very excited about the future. Our underclassmen hopefully gained some very useful information that they can log into their memory banks to pull out in the future," Hirsbrunner said. "For our seniors, thanks for leading this team like they did this year. Our team went from not being on the rankings at all, to all the way up to fifth in the state. We saw such a vast amount of improvement from everyone in many different ways."