EDITOR'S NOTE: The Swnews4u.com Athlete of the Week is a web-only feature that will publish each Thursday throughout the calendar year.
Kayci Martensen, Jr., Southwestern/Cuba City/Benton
COLBY – Timing was everything for Southwestern/Cuba City/Benton’s Kayci and Hanna Martensen on Saturday.
Kayci, a junior from Benton, was on time as she captured her second straight WIAA Division 2 Girls’ Individual State Cross Country title with a championship performance at Colby High School on Saturday, Oct. 31, while Hanna, a freshman, also finished her season on the awards stand after placing seventh overall in the girls’ 5,000-meter state race.
The format for the WIAA State Meet was altered this year due to COVID-19 concerns. The three divisions held their state meets in three different locations, and the girls’ and boys’ competitions in each division running three separate races on Saturday with the final results determined after the three races were completed.
With the D2 girls’ meet run in three separate parts, timing was all that mattered for the competitors. Each runner had to turn in her best race and hope it was good enough.
Competing in second race of the day, Kayci did what she typically does by bolting out to the front early in the race, and she continued to add to her lead as the race went along. Kayci completed the Colby state course in a winning time of 18:09.29 in face two, and her time stood up as the best of the day when all the results were in.
“It was a great feeling to see her become a two-time state champ. The hardest part was the wait. I felt she put down a good time but, with one more race left, it was hard to know where everyone finished,” said head coach Paul Reynolds.
“This is what Kayci has work hard to accomplish. The course was flat and the wind was blowing hard, which made the course slow. It’s hard to know where you are and push yourself when you have no one helping to push you. Kayci and Hanna they had nobody pushing them, so it became hard for them to set a good time. That’s why winning state this year means a lot more for her because she did herself without help.”
Kayci’s time was 10 seconds faster than the winning time she posted her sophomore year at Wisconsin Rapids. She also placed third at state as a freshman in 18:31.
Hanna followed her sister to the finish line in race two in 19:20.89, which placed her seventh overall in the final D2 results.
“Hanna is a runner that doesn’t give up. If we could have run everyone in one race, who knows what would of happen. I do know we would have set up a different game plan. But, to finish seventh overall is great for Hanna. We cannot be more proud of her for how she has run all season,” Reynolds remarked.
Two Rivers teammates, sophomore Mikaela Helling and junior Anna Gallagher, placed second and third in 18:36 and 18:41, respectively, out of race three. Poynette senior Katelyn Chadwick finished fourth overall after winning race one in 19:01, followed by Osceola sophomore Rachel Ulrich in fifth in 19:12 and Winneconne freshman Sophie Yetter in sixth in 19:15.
Yetter’s Wolves went on to win the D2 girls’ team title with 76 points ahead of Ulrich’s Chieftains, who were runner-ups with 119 points.
“It going to be great having (Kayci and Hanna) back next year. We just need to work on getting them some help to improve as a team,” stated Reynolds. “These two girls work very hard to be the best runners. They are great to coach. They listen to their coaches and try to run their races. We look forward to see where they will take us next season.”
HONORABLE MENTION (in alphabetical order)
Nick Connolly, Sr., Iowa–Grant boys cross country
The Iowa–Grant senior placed third out out 114 runners in the WIAA Boy Cross Country Division 3 State Championship Saturday in West Salem. He completed the 5,000-meter race in 16:22.83. Connolly finished his prep career as a two-time individual SWAL champion, a four-time state qualifier and led the IG boys to a 10th-place team finish at state a year ago as a junior.