Solon Springs junior Owen Dickenson will run in his second straight WIAA Division 3 State Cross-Country Championships on Saturday, Oct. 27, at Ridges Golf Course in Wisconsin Rapids.
Dickenson qualified for state with a third-place finish at the sectional meet Saturday, Oct. 20, at Northern Pines Golf Course in Iron River.
Birchwood’s Matthew Marcinske won the race in 17 minutes, 1.3 seconds, followed by Unity’s Cullen Feist, 17:18.9; and Dickenson, 17:29.1.
“Owen has worked very hard to get to where he is in cross-country,” SSHS coach Dale Rajala said. “He has gone to every camp and clinic to improve his speed and endurance and knowledge of this sport.
“He puts in extra time outside of our team practices. He will travel to every possible trail, hill, mountain in the area with his mom, teammates and other teachers in our school who are willing to help in his training.”
Dickenson, and the Eagles as a team, advanced to state last year. Dickenson won the sectional race at the Telemark Golf Course in Cable with a time of 17:38.7, while Solon Springs finished second as a team.
Dickenson went on to finish 24th at state with a time of 17:19.03 and the team placed 14th.
“Owen is one of those athletes who understands how much work it takes to get to the level he's at right now,” Rajala said. “He's been a great leader for this team and our program. He is certainly leaving his mark and we are excited to see him compete at state again this year and hopefully lead us back as a team next year.”
Dickenson will have plenty of competition this year at state. Senior David Vannucchi of Luther is the two-time defending champion in pursuit of his third title. He also finished 13th as a freshman in 2015.
Three other returning runners, who finished in the top 10, include senior Adam Rzentkowski of Rosholt, who was runner-up last year and fourth in 2016; senior Isaac Wegner of Durand, who finished third last year and 28th in 2016; and senior Payton Heinberg of Darlington, who was sixth a year ago after a third-place finish in 2016 and 16th in 2015.
Other possible challengers for the individual crown after their performances in the sectionals last week are senior Alex Mielke of Lake Country Lutheran, who placed 13th last year and 15th in 2016; juniors Trevor Lamirande of St. Croix Falls, Matthew Marcinske of Birchwood, and Gunner Schlender of Brillion, who was 11th last year and 13th in 2016; Schlender’s sophomore teammate Hunter Krepline, who was 19th last year, and sophomore Josh Waller of Oconto.
Saturday’s D3 boys race begins at 12:35 p.m.
EAGLES EXTRAS: Solon Springs has enjoyed renewed success over the past four seasons, including three straight boys Indianhead Conference titles. … In 2015, Adam Vandenberghe became the first member of the boys cross country team to qualify for state since 1991. The following year (2016) the Eagle boys won their first conference title since 1991, and in 2017 the Eagles defended their conference title and earned a place in the state meet. The third straight conference title came Oct. 11 at Northern Pines Golf Course in Iron River.