Marathon advances to state
Red Raider boys and girls teams qualify for state
By Casey Krautkramer
Marathon boys and girls cross-country coach EJ Otto provided his teams with a little extra motivation on Friday afternoon, before they boarded a school bus to compete in the WIAA Division 3 sectional race at Erbach Park in Athens. Otto brought his runners into the Marathon High School gym, so they could look up on the south wall and see the boys and girls cross country banners that show the years teams have won conference, sectional and state championships, or also qualified for state by finishing as sectional runners-up.
The boy’s cross-country banner shows the team hadn’t qualified for the state championships since 2014, but the girls’ banner was completely empty.
“I looked at the girls and they told me ‘we are going to fix this,’” Otto said.
Both the Red Raider boy and girl competitors ran strong races to help their teams to second-place finishes, which qualifies both for the state championships in the same season for the first time in school history.
The Marathon girl’s team will run in the WIAA Division 3 state champi- onship race at 1:20 p.m. this Saturday, Nov. 2, and the boys will compete at 3:10 p.m. at The Ridges Golf Course in Wisconsin Rapids. Marathon sophomore Jada Prihoda was her team’s top sectional race finisher, by placing ninth in 20:34.7. She badly wanted her Marathon girl’s cross-country team to be the first in school history to qualify for state.
“It’ll be great to see our 2019 girls cross country team as the first one on the banner in the gym,” Jada Prihoda said.
She’ll share the unique experience of competing at the state championships with her brother, Will Prihoda, who is a senior on the Marathon boys team. Like his younger sister, Will Prihoda was also the top Red Raider boy’s runner in the sectional race. He placed eighth in 17:19.5. Their parents are Craig and Cat Prihoda of Marathon.
“It’s pretty awesome my sister and I will both be running at the state championships this season,” Will Prihoda said. “This is her first year out for cross country and this is my last, so it’s nice we’ll get to share this experience together.”
The Marathon, Athens and Stratford boy’s cross country teams battled against one another for the crucial sectional runners-up plaque. Stevens Point Pacelli won the boy’s team race with a low score of 68 points, followed by Marathon with 87. Athens took third place with 102 points and Stratford was fourth with 104.
“I’m just really proud of the guys,” Will Prihoda said. “We knew before the race began it would be really close no matter what, so everyone just came out and ran their best race they could. I’m just proud of our entire team.”
Marathon senior Katrina Fredrickson finished the sectional race as her team’s No. 2 runner, by placing 10th in 20:36.7. She is elated her girls team qualified for the state championships this season, after it barely missed advancing to state last year by finishing “It’ll be great to see our 2019 girls cross country team as the first one on the banner in the gym.”
Sophomore three points behind the second-place team at the sectional race.
“This year we have an awesome team and I just love them all so much, and our team couldn’t be going to state without any of them,” Fredrickson said. “It’s just really cool this is how I get to end my cross country career.”
Otto was still in shock after the Friday’s sectional race concluded that both his Marathon boys and girls cross country teams qualified for the state championships.
“I told the kids I have won three state championships and a couple runnersup finishes as Marathon’s boys track coach, but having both the boys and girls cross country teams qualify for state in the same season might be the coolest experience ever,” Otto said. “I need to congratulate the girls team because it made history, because no Marathon girls cross country team has ever gone to state. This is incredible and they’ve worked so hard for this accomplishment.”
Marathon sophomore Laci Hoeksema took 15th place at the sectional race, junior Anna Cleven 25th, sophomore Kayla Radtke 32nd, and freshmen Camryn Sapinski 37th and Jersey Lobner 51st.
For the Red Raider boys, junior Cullen Krasselt took 17th place, senior Tyler Cliver 22nd, freshman Jaron Gage 25th, senior Aaron Schumacher 28th, and sophomores Owen Marks 38th and Jonah Streveler 48th.
Training on hills
Marathon’s boys and girls crosscountry teams should have an advantage against their opponents on the state championship course, because it contains a lot of hills. It just so happens all of Marathon City north of the Rib River is situated on a very large hill.
“We will do 30 and 50-second runs on the big hill in Marathon to train for our cross-country races,” Otto said. “Marathon has a lot of hills so I get my choice on whether runners will be training on the big or small hills.”
Otto doesn’t have any expectations on what places Marathon’s boys and girls cross country teams should place at the state championships.
“I just want us to go have fun and let them remember they ran at the state championships, and that’s all that matters to me,” he said. “I love seeing our runners’ smiles on their faces, because they are going to state in a sport and not everyone can say that.”