Rhinelander’s Cal Laggis, right, chases Lakeland’s Victor Masayesva to the finish the Great Northern Conference cross country meet Saturday, Oct. 19 at the Gartzke Flowage in the Town of Bryant. Laggis finished fourth overall for Rhinelander. (Photos by Jeremy Mayo/River News)
Rhinelander’s Abbey Henrichs, left, and Ali DeNamur run together during the Great Northern Conference cross country meet Saturday, Oct. 19 at the Gartzke Flowage in the Town of Bryant.
10/22/2019 7:31:00 AM Laggis finishes fourth, Hodags fifth overall at GNCs
TOWN OF BRYANT - The Great Northern Conference cross country meet went as expected for the Rhinelander Hodags, with one very notable exception.
Sophomore Cal Laggis had a breakout race and earned first-team all-conference honors with a fourth place finish in the boys' 5K on Saturday as the Hodags finished fifth in both the boys' and girls' divisions of the GNC hosted by Antigo at the Gartzke Flowage Trails.
Laggis, who has established himself as one of Rhinelander's top runners as the season has progressed, found another gear on Saturday. He started the race near the front of the pack and never wavered, crossing the line with a time of 19 minutes, 9.8 seconds - a 1:42 improvement from when he ran the course Sept. 24 in the Antigo Invite. Laggis was Rhinelander's fastest runner by nearly a minute and was only 38.3 seconds behind race winner Eric Kordus of Mosinee.
"He ran this course once and he made up his mind that he was going to run it a little differently today and he had a really good run," said coach M.J. Laggis, Cal's father. "I'm proud of him, as a coach and also as a parent. A sophomore with that kind of a showing and that kind of a time in the conference is impressive."
The younger Laggis said the run far exceeded his own expectations.
"To be honest, going into the race, I was shooting for second-team all-conference," he said. "So 14th place would have been the last place (to meet that goal). I don't know. I just got out there and felt great."
Cal Laggis showed no signs of fatigue despite running further up in the field on a hilly and physically demanding Gartzke course. Heading to the finish - a home stretch that includes a tough 150-meter climb to the line - Laggis caught and passed Lakeland's Victor Masayesva for fourth place. Both runners also play hockey, which Laggis said fueled his late surge.
"I needed to beat him for sure," he said.
Otherwise, the meet played out as expected. The big three in the GNC of Tomahawk, Medford and Lakeland controlled the team portion of the standings. Tomahawk edged Lakeland by three points for the boys' title while Medford, the defending Division 2 state champion, nipped Lakeland by five points for the girls' crown.
The Hodags had their sights set on Mosinee for the fourth position, but were unable to close the gap. Mosinee's boys, led by Kordus' victory, finished only five points behind Medford for third. Mosinee had a comfortable 37-point gap to Rhinelander for fourth in the girls' standings.
"We would have loved to have climbed up to that fourth spot," coach Laggis said. "We knew we were entrenched ahead of Pines and Antigo, but behind Mosinee. We're not quite able to climb that bar, but it's a goal to get into the upper half of the conference and we'll get there."
Cal Laggis was the only Rhinelander runner to receive all-conference recognition. Jacob Weddle and Abbey Henrichs were 19th in the boys' and girls' divisions, respectively. Weddle's time of 20:05.9 was 10.1 seconds behind Antigo's Logan Edwards for the 14th and final all-conference spot. Henrichs (23:57.2) finished 23 seconds behind Medford's Macey Mann for the 14th.
Jaden Beske was third across for the Hodag boys in 22nd overall (20:21.7), Nathanael Gibbs was 26th (20:52.3), Daniel Goldsworthy was 28th (21:01.4), JC Adams finished 29th (21:02.5) and David Gibbs was 30th (21:15.8).
"You've got a couple of guys there that can really propel us next year," coach Laggis said. "We just have a core of guys that can help us get to the next level."
Ali DeNamur finished 23rd for Rhinelander's girls (24:08.4). Audrey Schiek was 29th (25:04.1), Sage Flory finished 31st (25:19.4), Emma Germain was 32nd (25:31.0), Ella Schiek finished 33rd (25:33.5) and Megan Brown came home 36th (25:56.0).
"On the girls' side, I was really happy with a couple of things," coach Laggis said. "Abbey Henrichs had a really nice race and Ali DeNamur fell down back in the woods - which is kind of how it can go sometimes for us at these kind of meets - but she got back up and kept trucking. Those two had nice runs.
"The girls are working hard, and I know I've said this a lot - and I only have a couple more times to say it this year - is that we're really young, we're making strides and setting goals. These kids have to keep climbing."
Ashley Peterson (21:21.9) of Lakeland won the girls' race for the third year in a row.
Overall, times were significantly slower than normal on a tight, hilly Gartzke course, though there were no major incidents in either varsity race - something M.J. Laggis said was a concern prior to the race given the tight quarters.
"The winning time (in the boys' race) was (18:31) and that's a kid that goes low 17s on a normal day, or high 16s in Tomahawk. It's just a bear," he said. "The hills are brutal ... I think the course got better as the course went as traffic got on it in spots. The teams adjusted well and ran well."
Rhinelander, and much of the GNC, will race on a much faster and flatter course this coming Saturday as Tomahawk hosts a WIAA Division 2 sectional at Edgewater Country Club.
Jeremy Mayo may be reached at email@example.com.
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