The state cross country meet was held Saturday, and Jeff Jurss thought something was missing.
The Sheboygan Lutheran coach said his boys team should have been at the race in Wisconsin Rapids, but the Crusaders missed qualifying for state by 12 points.
Kohler and Brillion were the two schools from sectionals to advance, so Lutheran will have to wait to get back to state for the first time since making it four years in a row from 2007-’10.
“There’s absolutely no reason that we’re not at state other than our sectional is really hard,” Jurss said. “We were No. 4 in the state rankings. No. 1 is Kohler and No. 5 is Brillion. We feel like we should be there and we feel we’re a top-five team if we could’ve just got there.
“The guys are very disappointed.”
Lutheran had five runners in the top 23, and none of them are seniors. In fact, there is only one senior on the squad.
“They’re very motivated, already,” Jurss said.
Two individuals made state: Although no teams from the area competed at state, Lutheran’s Dominic Willadsen (Division 3) and South’s Rylee Brotz (Division 1) ran in the meet (deadlines prevented coverage).
Willadsen, a junior, finished 11th at sectionals to advance.
“His season really started last track season,” Jurss said. “It’s kind of interesting because he was barely a varsity runner for cross country last year.
“During the track season, he worked really hard at getting stronger, faster, healthier as his season progressed. At the end of the track season, he was starting to really run fast. And then I do not think he missed a workout all summer. … He really put in a lot of energy and time to get to this point this year. He’s a very improved runner from his sophomore year.”
Brotz, a sophomore, was second at sectionals and was not even competing in the sport as a freshman.
“I was really surprised but also excited,” she said. “I was just hoping to do my best.”
Brotz played on the junior varsity volleyball team a year ago but ended up taking third at the Fox River Classic Conference meet. She also won the Plymouth Relays earlier this season.
“It felt really good,” Brotz said. “I’m very glad I switched sports.”
But how did she get so good, so fast?
“Well, I ran cross country in eighth grade and so I just found that mental strength to push myself,” Brotz said. “It went very, very well.”