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Darlington boys looking to run to Division 3 state title
Times file photo Darlington's Garth Garrison runs up a hill during the WIAA Division 3 sectional at Darlington. The Redbirds are ranked No. 1 in the Wisconsin Cross Country Coaches Association poll.
MONROE - The last time the Darlington boys cross country team won a state championship, Monroe coach Dave Hirsbrunner was a senior at Darlington.

Hirsbrunner was the No. 1 runner for Darlington when they won the state title in 1986.

"They are very similar in how they finish," Darlington coach Arnie Miehe said when comparing this year's team to the 1986 team. "Hirsh was the front-runner. We had a lot of guys who ran in a pack."

Arnie Miehe, who is now in his 29th year coaching, may have his best and deepest team yet. The Redbirds are the favorite by some coaches to win the WIAA Division 3 state title Saturday at the Ridges Golf Course in Wisconsin Rapids.

"I really think Darlington is the favorite," Albany coach Tony Brewer said. "I feel that Tyson Miehe will be the No. 1 or 2 runner. They have so much depth. Their seventh guy could have a great race and be their No. 2 runner."

The Redbirds are led by freshman Tyson Miehe who owns the freshman record and has won the SWAL Conference and sectional titles. The Redbirds have several runners who can step up at any race and deliver a top finish. Tyson's brother, Kent Miehe, was a conference champion last year and he has run on state teams the last three years. The other top runners for the Redbirds include Destin Komprood, Michael Sinclair, Quinn Cullen and Garth Garrison.

Arnie Miehe doesn't consider the Redbirds the favorite. He considers Kenosha St. Joseph's and Oshkosh Lourdes as two of the top contenders.

"We haven't even talked or thought about that," Arnie Miehe said of being a favorite to win a state championship. "We just want to go in there and run a solid race and take on whoever comes. I don't feel any hype on the team."

Albany senior Drew Mather and junior Reece Whitehead were driven by an eighth place finish at state as a team last year. The Comets have qualified for state three straight years and are looking to be a factor.

"After we got done last year, Drew Mather and Reece Whitehead wanted to improve," Brewer said. "Our goal is definitely a top five finish."

The Comets have a strong top three runners in Mather, Whitehead and Jose Ramirez.

"We have to get a huge advantage on our No. 3 runner," Brewer said.

The Darlington girls team is making its fourth consecutive trip to state. The Redbirds have a team with four runners who ran at state last year including sophomore Cheyenne Wolfe, Christa Wamsley, Amy Jorgenson and Hannah Robiolio.

"Oshkosh Lourdes is head and shoulders ahead of everyone else in the Division," Arnie Miehe said. "They beat the No. 1 Division 2 team this year. They could probably finish in the top three in Division 1."

Miehe said St. Mary's Springs, Darlington and about five other teams will be battling for second.

"After Oshkosh Lourdes it will be a toss-up," he said.

Since Darlington has four runners who competed at state last year, Arnie Miehe is confident.

"They know what they are doing," he said. "They know the expectations. They know where the course goes. When you are there for the first time, it can get overwhelming with the crowd and atmosphere."

Two area girls are making their first trips to state - Albany freshman Bailey Hlavachek and Pecatonica-Argyle junior Kendra Sigg.

"She is going up there to show off her exciting freshman year," Brewer said of Hlavachek. "She wants to go up there and represent the team well."

Brewer said that Hlavachek has to live in the moment.

"This could be her last chance," he said. "You can't bank on that (a return trip). You have to run this meet like it's your last. She will be a little nervous at the start. Once the gun goes off, she has been in races before and she will run well."