Coach asking for rules change to help runner make state

Broncos runner Kevin Hall competes at the Arrowhead Sectional. (Mike Ramczyk/SLN)


By Tim Wester

Sports Correspondent

Call it an unlucky draw or a logistical oversight, but the Wisconsin Interscholastic Athletic Association’s questionable decision to send the Union Grove Cross Country team 50 miles north to the Hartland Sectional is haunting Union Grove senior Abby Martin.

Martin finished 12th overall with a time of 19:43 at the Arrowhead Sectional, but was just one place short of qualifying for state Saturday, Oct 21. Individuals from the top two teams, along with the next five finishers qualified for state, which left Martin one place behind final qualifier Julia Wesley of Arrowhead.

To make matters worse for Martin, her finishing time would have qualified her for state in all but one other sectional, including the Kenosha Sectional where other Southern Lakes teams Lake Geneva Badger, Westosha Central, and Wilmot competed.

“Abby ran close to her best time of the season and we were her biggest fans hoping she’d make to state,” Union Grove Cross Country coach Mike Mikula said. “It’s tough going against good competition in a loaded sectional, and it’s hard to take in when she ran a 19:43 and doesn’t go to state because most girls with that time got there.”

“My plea to the WIAA would be to create at-large bids because Abby did everything right.”

An at-large bid or better planning from the WIAA would suffice, but neither will help Martin, who graduates this spring.

“In the end, she was 15 seconds from qualifying for state,” Mikula said. “She saw the other sectional results and was obviously disappointed, but she had a great career as a four-year varsity runner.”

Martin is the only senior who ran for the Broncos, whose bright young corps of runners, including sophomore Riley Calouette (21:33) and a pair of freshman Karly Martinez (21:59) and Shannon Mulligan (22:33), had strong showings at the sectional. Junior Megan Mulligan (25:03) and freshman Madylin Lorey (25:38) rounded out the Bronco finishers.

“Riley was our number two runner and Karley and Shannon were both freshman, so we have plenty returning next year,” Mikula said. “But it’s up to them to train in the offseason. If they don’t its back to ground zero for them next year.”

Champion Waukesha West (44) and Pewaukee (65) were the team state qualifiers, with the Union Grove girls finishing ninth (244).

On the boys side, Bronco sophomore Kevin Hall finished 17th with a time of 17:14. Junior Nathan Voge (17:57), freshman Marcus Johnson (18:18), freshman Hunter Reich (18:24), sophomore Tommy Bretl (18:34), senior Eric Dan (18:59), and freshman Luke Bowers (19:39) rounded out the Bronco finishers.

Milwaukee Hamilton (64) edged out Pewaukee (68) to win the team competition, while Union Grove (250) finished 10th.

“It went well for the boys overall, who with the exception of Tommy, were all in the first year running cross country,” Mikula said. “Kevin led the way for us as he has all season. Realistically for his first year out he did well and with proper offseason training, he should do alright for himself next year.”

With the majority of runners figuring to return for the boys and girls, Mikula’s teams should be better next season.