No girl at Sheboygan South has finished a 5K cross country race faster than Rylee Brotz, and she was playing volleyball at this time last year.
The sophomore finished in third place at the Manitowoc Invitational Sept. 28 at Meadow Links Golf Course with a time of 19 minutes 26.0 seconds.
The previous 5K girls’ school record was a 20:21 by Katie Banie in 2017. The WIAA switched girls’ races from 4K seven years ago.
“We knew she was a good runner,” Redwings’ coach Brian Henriksen said. “Her work ethic in practice is outstanding. I knew she was going to be improving throughout the season. I didn’t know she’d be improving this rapidly, this drastically. If you would’ve asked me in August, I would’ve hoped maybe she was running low 20s. It’s just outstanding and a testament to her work ethic, her determination. … When she runs, she just runs like she is in charge of the pack. She’s really doing a great job.”
Brotz was on the junior varsity volleyball team last season and says Henriksen asked her to switch sports.
“I talked her into it all year long,” he said. “I finally got her to come out.”
It was not a hard decision for Brotz, either.
“Well, I kind of just wanted to try new things and so after doing volleyball one year, I decided since I did cross country in eighth grade I’d be pretty good at it,” she said.
Brotz admits she did not expect to set a record so soon.
“It was really nice. It felt so good,” she said.
And Brotz has no plans on changing sports next fall.
“Definitely cross country again,” she said.