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, Sr., Southwestern/Benton/Cuba City girls cross country
WISCONSIN RAPIDS – Kayci Martensen had the final straight away all to herself on Saturday afternoon. It was just the way the Southwestern/Benton/Cuba City senior wanted to her end her impressive high school career.
Martensen posted a winning time of 18:10 over the 5,000-meter state course to run away with her third consecutive Division 2 girls’ individual state championship title at the 2021 WIAA State Cross Country Meet held at Ridges Golf Course in Wisconsin Rapids on Saturday, Oct. 30.
With the title, Martensen joins an elite group of runners as she becomes just the fifth female and 11th overall runner in state history to earn three career state titles. Her winning time was also fourth-best all-time in Division 2 and it was the 13th fastest girls’ state performance for 5,000-meters.
“It was really exciting," said Martensen. "My goal was to get back here and defend the title again. It means a lot to me (to win for a third time). All the hard work I put in and all the years leading up to this was worth it. I’m speechless right now.”
Martensen let her performance do all the talking on Saturday. After taking it a bit easy over the first mile of he course, the Benton standout steadily put some distance between her and New Berlin Eisenhower freshman Faith Wehrman, who was running right on her heels at the one-mile marker.
By the second mile Martensen was well out in front of the field, and when she sprinted down the final straight-away she reached the finish line 14 seconds ahead of Wehrman to cruise to her third title.
“Kayci ran a great race. She stuck to her plan and did exactly what we asked her to do,” Wildcats head coach Paul Reynolds noted. “To be just the fifth girl in state history to win three state titles is a special honor. She has worked hard to get to this level and she deserves all the accolades she gets.”
It was quite a week for Martensen, who announced a few days earlier that she will be attending Iowa State next fall and will compete on the Cyclones’ track and field team in college.
Molly Seidel of University Lake School (2008-11) and Suzy Favor of Stevens Point (1982-85) are the only Wisconsin girls cross country runners to win four State titles. Martensen joins Cathy Branta of Slinger (1978-80) and Ashley Beutler of New Glarus/Monticello (2004, 2006-07) as three-time champions. Only six boys have won three individual championships: Jim Brice of Wrightstown (1975-77), Paul Voss of Clinton (1977-79), Phil Downs of Madison Memorial (1989-91), Chris Solinsky of Stevens Point (2000-02), Tyson Miehe of Darlington (2011-13) and Dave Vannucchi of Luther (2016-18).
Saturday’s state meet was more even more special for Kayci and the Martensens since her sophomore sister, Hanna, joined her in the D2 state field for the second season in row, placing 29th overall among the 111 D2 runners with her time of 20:22.
“Hanna ran well today," said coach Reynolds. "She had a good race, but it was a lot different than it was last year (when the state races were split around the state due to Covid). There were a lot more runners than last year and the atmosphere was even bigger. You have to run a different type of race. With all that in mind, I thought she ran a good race."
Running together at state was not only motivated the sisters to each do their best but also made a memorable fall Saturday even more special.
“It was fun to be here and do this with (Hanna)," said Kayci. "We train together year round. We push each other and we support each other. We’re kind of competitive, so it helps us both get better."
Reynolds added the sisters mean so much to each other and to their teammates. “They bring a lot of enthusiasm, compassion and humbleness to the team. They help each other out and they help the team out in so many ways.”
HONORABLE MENTION (in alphabetical order):
Jacob DiVall, Jr., QB/LB, Lancaster football
DiVall did everything he could to aid Lancaster's upset bid, rushing for 211 yards and 2 TDs on a whopping 36 carries, and returning a kickoff 84 yards for a third touchdown in a 41–30 loss at #2-seeded Cuba City in a WIAA Division 6 Level II playoff game last Friday night. DiVall, Lancaster's fullback turned quarterback, finished the year with 1,412 rushing yards and 13 TDs on 226 carries, and completed 70 of 153 passes for 760 yards, 7 TDs and 13 interceptions.
Beau Kopp, Sr., QB/DE, Cuba City football
Kopp completed 17 of 26 passes (six to classmate Carter Olson for 144 yards) for 281 yards and 2 TDs, and rushed for another 21 yards and two scores on four carries to lead the Cubans (9–2) to a 41–30 victory over Lancaster in a WIAA Division 6 Level II playoff game last Friday night. Kopp and the Cubans will now face #4-ranked Darlington (10–1) in a Level III playoff game at DHS Friday night.
Rachel Miller, Sr., OH, Highland volleyball
Miller slammed a team-high 15 kills, served up a match-high five aces and recorded 14 digs to lead the Six Rivers West champion Cardinals (25–5) to a 25–21, 27–25, 25–17 sweep of SRW runner-up Potosi (23–7) in a WIAA Division 4 sectional semifinal lat Thursday night at HHS. Highland's season came to an end two nights later with a 22–25, 25–12, 25–16, 25–15 loss to visiting Wonewoc–Center (26–4) in a D4 sectional final.
Lucas Milz, Jr., RB/LB, Black Hawk/Warren football
Milz rushed for a game-high 147 yards on 26 carries, caught two passes for 39 yards and led the Warriors' defense with 13 tackles in Black Hawk/Warren's 20–3 WIAA Division 7 Level II playoff victory at top-seeded Hilbert Friday night. The Warriors (8–3) will now travel to #2-seed Reedsville (10–1) Saturday for a Level III showdown.
Ashton Spitzack, Sr., RB/LB, Potosi/Cassville football
Spitzack rushed for a game-high 148 yards and a touchdown, caught a 34-yard TD pass from classmate Levi Groom, and recorded 10 tackles in Chieftains' 38–35 WIAA Division 7 playoff victory at previously undefeated and top-seeded Highland (10–1) last Friday night. Potosi/Cassville (10–1) will now travel to Cashton (9–2) for a Level III playoff contest Friday night.