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Redbirds, Comets run to state meet
Kent Miehe helped the Redbirds qualify for the WIAA Division 3 boys cross country state meet by finishing eighth overall with a time of 17 minutes, 40 seconds. Albany will join Darlington in Wisconsin Rapids Oct. 30.
DARLINGTON - Tyson Miehe's trouble sleeping the last two nights wasn't because of a nightmare.

The Darlington freshman envisioned keeping his cross country dream season alive and contending for a state championship. The Redbirds will get that opportunity after running to a WIAA Division 3 sectional championship Friday in Darlington to qualify for state for the third straight year. Miehe won the individual championship and helped the Redbirds run away with the team title outdistancing sectional runner-up Albany 45-81.

"I have been staying awake the past few nights just thinking if we do good at the sectional, we get to go to state," said Miehe, who finished the 5,000-meter course in 16 minutes, 44 seconds. "It feels really good that we get to go to state as a team."

Albany edged Westby 81-84 for second and clinched its third straight trip to state as a team. The Comets had three of the top 10 runners, led by senior Drew Mather who was third (17:25), junior Reece Whitehead sixth (17:36) and sophomore Jose Ramirez ninth (17:43).

"We are always looking towards the postseason and trying to win conference and get to state," Mather said. "Getting a taste of it the last two years makes us want to get back and do better."

Mather said most years there are three teams contending for two team state qualifying spots.

"This year I really felt there were four teams in the race who had a chance," Mather said. "It's the most competition we have ever had."

Darlington had five runners in the top 15. Darlington junior Kent Miehe finished eighth (17:40) and sophomore Quinn Cullen was 11th (17:45). Junior Destin Komprood took 13th (17:51) and junior Michael Sinclair was 15th (17:57).

Darlington coach Arnie Miehe said the race got off to a fast start, but he warned his runners about staying patient despite the adrenaline rush.

"It was a big race," Arnie Miehe said. "We knew if we ran solid and a really good team race, we would be OK. The guys got back up and kept hammering and coming."

The difference for the Comets was junior Gavin Ruef, who is usually the Comets' No. 6 runner and sophomore Johnny Kallgren. Ruef finished 29th (18:46) and Kallgren took 34th (19:01), which was four spots ahead of Westby's No. 5 runner.

"Our number 1, 2 and 3 runners did what they are supposed to do," Albany coach Tony Brewer said. "Gavin Ruef really stepped up. Gavin and Johnny had great finishes. If they didn't run well today, you are done. Running another week has been their goal."

Pecatonica-Argyle junior Cameron Colson finished 12th (17:48), but he was one spot from qualifying for state. The top two teams and the next five top runners not on the top two teams qualify for state. The Vikings finished fifth as a team at the 12-team sectional. Pecatonica-Argyle junior Wyatt Massey took 20th (18:26) and senior Chris James was 22nd (18:28).

Now the Comets and Redbirds turn their attention to the state meet in Wisconsin Rapids Oct. 30.

"It's a great feeling," Brewer said. "It's about these kids. We just try to put them in a position to get that feeling. They work really hard to get that feeling. We want to work hard to improve on last year."