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Benton sophomore wins D3 state CC title; River Ridge senior rushes for 230 yards, 2 TDs in Level 2 playoff win
Southwestern/Cuba City/Benton sophomore Kayci Martensen won the 2019 Division 2 Girls' individual title at Saturday's WIAA State Cross Country Meet in Wisconsin Rapids. - photo by Tom Gunnell
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River Ridge senior fullback Will Esser rushed for 230 yards and a pair of touchdowns to lead the Timberwolves to a 28–19 WIAA D7 level 2 playoff victory at No. 2 seed Potosi/Cassville Friday, Nov. 1. - photo by Jason Nihles

EDITOR'S NOTE: The Athlete of the Week is a web-only feature that will publish each Thursday throughout the calendar year.

Kaycie Martensen, So., Southwestern/Cuba City/Benton girls cross country

     Southwestern/Cuba City/Benton sophomore Kayci Martensen covered the 5,000-meter state course in a winning time of 18:19.9 to take home the 2019 WIAA Division 2 Girls' Individual State Title at Saturday's WIAA State Cross Country Meet in Wisconsin Rapids.  Martensen is the first female runner from any of the three co-op schools to win a state cross country title, and her time was the fifth-best in Division 2 and the 14th-best overall girls’ time ever at the state meet since the course was lengthened from 4,000 to 5,000 meters in 2014.

Will Esser, Sr., FB/LB, River Ridge football

     River Ridge senior fullback Will Esser gave everything he had to help his River Ridge Timberwolves defeated host Potosi/Cassville 29–18 in a WIAA Division 7 Level 2 playoff game last Friday night. Despite being forced out of the game on three separate occasions with an ankle injury, a thigh injury and getting the wind knocked out, Esser was the T'wolves (8–3) workhorse, rushing for a game-high 230 yards and a pair of touchdowns on 31 carries in a valiant effort that helped his team advance to Level III and a rematch with top-ranked and top-seeded Black Hawk (11–0) this Friday night. Esser scored on a 41-yard run on Ridge's first possession just 1:22 into the game, then scored again on a 5-yard run with 3:27 to help put it out of reach at 29–12. Esser accounted for 230 of his team's 343 total yards.

HONORABLE MENTION (In alphabetical order):

Ian Barry, Sr., Fennimore boys cross country

     The senior standout capped his stellar prep cross country career this past weekend with his third straight appearance at the WIAA Cross Country State Championships. Barry finished 24th out of 149 finishers in the WIAA Division 3 boys’ state championship race Saturday with a time of 17:13.0 in cold, snowy conditions at the Ridges Golf Course in Wisconsin Rapids. Barry was in 21st place at the one-mile marker at 5:08, 20th place after two miles at 10:51 and finished the 3.1-mile race at 17:13.0. Just to race in the state championship race was an ultimate accomplishment for Barry, who torn his ACL and had surgery last March, just seven months ago

Riley Christensen, Jr., QB/LB, Belmont football

     Christensen ran the ball 35 times for 198 yards and three TDs (5, 49, 1) to lead the way for the Braves’ offense, and he tallied 12 tackles– nine solos– with one for loss and a fumble recovery to lead the defense as well in the Braves' 18-14 victory over Oakfield in an 8-player football State Quarterfinal game played at Belmont on Friday, Nov. 1.

Nick Connolly, Jr., Iowa–Grant boys cross country

     Connolly ran to a team-best 14th place finish at 16:55.2 in a field of 149 runners to lead the Iowa–Grant boys to a 10th place team finish in the WIAA Boys Division 3 State Cross Country Championships Saturday in Wisconsin Rapids. Connolly, a three-time state qualifier, won the individual SWAL conference title three weeks ago at Cuba City. This was the Panthers first trip to state as a team since 2002, when they place third in Division 3.