Sports

Lutheran wins state cross country championship

Last time Crusaders took first was 2006

Lutheran runners hoist up their mascot, a cactus, after winning state on Saturday. – Photo by Kirsten solle

Sheboygan Lutheran doesn’t have a trophy to prove it – yet, but the boys cross country team is the Division 3 state champion.

The Crusaders won state earlier this evening at Maple Grove Venues in West Salem for the first time since claiming three titles in a row from 2004-’06, but the championship trophy is in the mail after the WIAA made a number of changes because of the Coronavirus.

Lutheran still has not received its sectional championship plaque, so coach Jeff Jurss, a teacher at the school, is definitely going to keep an eye out.

“Yeah, I’m going to see when the UPS guy comes and make sure I get a sub or have a free period during that time,” he said. “Maybe I’ll have to use the bathroom in middle of class and go check the mail quick.”

State is usually held in Wisconsin Rapids with all three divisions on hand, and afterward the trophy ceremony moves to Lincoln High School.

“It was a really cool experience,” Jurss said. “They would call everybody up to the stage and I think our guys feel a little bad they didn’t get to do that. But ultimately, who cares? They won the race and that’s what they were excited about.”

Instead of lifting up the trophy, the Crusaders posed with their long-time mascot – a cactus – after competing in their first state meet since 2016.

Lutheran placed its five runners in the top 18 for a total of 56 points, a whopping 65 ahead of runner-up Brookwood.

“They just hammered to the finish,” Jurss said. “It was awesome.”

Senior Dominic Willadsen led his team by taking 10th overall with a time of 16:50.25.

“It was cool, especially for senior year, that last race, at state, and we win,” Willadsen said.

Junior Logan Zak placed 20th (17:22.12) and was followed by seniors Jonah Jurss (17:24.27), Matt Witte (17:43.26) and Hans Gruben (17:44.99).

Sophomore Zach Glewen (18:10.6) and freshman Travis Tock (19:02.7) also ran for the Crusaders, but their times did not count toward the team score.

“It was awesome,” Jonah Jurss said. “I’ve been coming to state for my whole life because my dad’s been the coach. I finally got to come and do it for myself.”

Another change this season because of the pandemic is all three divisions held state at their own locations – Division 1 at Arrowhead, Division 2 at Colby – and teams were split into three groups for heat races.

Lutheran was in the final race of the day and had to wait to see if it won after the times and scores from the entire day were combined.

Jeff Jurss was about 400 meters away when the race ended and he was walking toward his team when he saw his older son looking at his phone.

“All of a sudden, he goes, ‘we’re the state champs!,’” the coach said. “He must’ve had the fastest refresh button. Then everybody cheered and hugged and jumped around.”

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