By allowing ads to appear on this site, you support the local businesses who, in turn, support great journalism.
Running for their lives
Monroes Ethan Moehn will try to help the Cheesemakers in their quest for a state title at Saturdays Division 2 meet in Wisconsin Rapids.
MONROE - When the Monroe boys cross country team leaves the high school today for the WIAA Division 2 state cross country meet, the Cheesemakers will be chasing a trophy as one of the top teams. Monroe will be running at state as a team for the sixth time in the last seven years.

The Cheesemakers, ranked fourth in the Division 2 Wisconsin Cross Country Coaches Association poll, have a chance at a top three finish. Monroe has finished in the top 10 at state five of the last six years. The team will be looking to finish ahead of third-ranked Dodgeville-Mineral Point.

"We are ranked fourth as a team," Monroe senior Dylan Starck said. "If we can run like we can and hit a good week, anything can happen. That's why they run the race."

Starck is receiving interest from Loyola University and several Division II schools, including the University of Wisconsin-Eau Claire, about running in college.

"That's further down the line for me," said Starck, whose focused on the WIAA Division 2 state cross country meet at the Ridges Golf Course in Wisconsin Rapids Saturday.

Monroe boys cross country coach Dave Hirsbrunner said Pewaukee, the No. 1 ranked team in Division 2, is the favorite. Shorewood, ranked No. 2 and last year's Division 2 state champions and Dodgeville-Mineral Point will be contenders. Hirsbrunner is excited about the Cheesemakers' opportunity.

"I personally think we are a top five team," said Hirsbrunner, who added that his focus is having the team run a solid race. "Does that mean we will finish in the top five? I don't know. That would be a huge accomplishment. When you are running, there's no way you can worry about what place you are in. If we just run solid races, the results will take care of themselves."

The Cheesemakers have five solid runners in Starck, sophomore Steve Christiansen, juniors Joel Henry and Luke Peterson and freshman Ethan Moehn. Moehn has emerged as one of the Badger South's top runners.

Monroe won the conference and finished as the sectional runner-up behind Dodgeville-Mineral Point at the Platteville Sectional.

Hirsbrunner said the team has gone well above and beyond his expectations this year.

"This team has been a team of heart, soul and competitors," he said.

Hirsbrunner always takes pride in runners who are competitors.

"I might not have been the most talented, but I was a competitor," Hirsbrunner said of his cross country days in Darlington. "It's one of the things we have on this team - competitors."

Not only has Starck overcome a hip injury from last year, but Peterson recovered from a knee injury and ran strong at the Platteville Sectional. Moehn and Christiansen have also emerged as top runners. Moehn had played football since fourth grade before trading in his football pads for running shoes this season.

"This was a surprise for him to come out and an even bigger surprise for what he has done," Hirsbrunner said. "He doesn't act like a typical freshman. He loves to compete. He's one of those kids if I tell him to run through a wall, he would run through a wall. He's a coach's dream."

Like Henry and Peterson before him, Christiansen earned his success by training hard in the offseason.

"He really went to work in the summer," Hirsbrunner said. "He turned himself into one of the most feared runners in this part of the state."

According to Hirsbrunner, the race for the individual state championship could come down to Dodgeville-Mineral Point's Trevor Wunnicke, New Glarus-Monticello sophomore Ryan McCoy, Madison Edgewood's Joe McKenna and Little Little Chute's No. 1 runner. McCoy finished eighth at state last year.

"Trevor Wunnicke has to be the favorite," Hirsbrunner said.