WESTBY — Hillsboro sophomore Breanna Beaver used the momentum of last week’s fourth-place finish at the Scenic Bluffs Conference meet to prepare for Saturday’s WIAA Division 3 Westby Sectional.
Beaver battled with the lead pack Saturday and placed eight overall in 17:00.7 to earn the her first trip to the WIAA State meet.
Girls’ team champion Westby (57) and Melrose–Mindoro (80) were the two team state qualifiers.
Westby’s Becca Maxwell (15:55.6) was the individual medalist, finishing 42 minutes ahead of runner-up Angie Zenke (16:37.6) of Onalaska Luther.
But the Hillsboro contingent was all abuzz over Beaver’s performance, which was good enough for the fifth and final individual berth to state.
“Breanna peaked perfectly this year,” said Hillsboro head coach Ben Leis. “Coming off her best race at conference, she knew she had an outside chance at making it to state.
“On the bus I told her not to put herself in position early and I’d tell her who she had to catch. That’s just exactly what she did.”
With 300 meters to go there was a moderate hill followed by a nice down hill.
Beaver was 25 meters behind New Lisbon senior Kayla Gregar, who was clinging to the fifth individual state qualifier position at that point, but Beaver attacked the hill and really ran the down hill. She cut it to about 15 meters after that.
About 75 meters from the finish there is a very steep embankment. It was on that hill where she didn’t physically catch the girl, even though she gained considerably, but you could just see in her body language that she was now in striking distance.
Beaver turned it on during the final stretch and was able to sprint past Gregar (17:02.0) just before the finish line.
“I’ll never forget this race for as long as I live,” said Leis. “It shows that if you have a positive attitude and believe in yourself anything can happen at sectionals.”
Beaver is the first girl in school history to advance to the state meet.
Other Hillsboro finishers were Adriana Reese (18th, 17:42.2), Michael Bach (38th, 18:35.6), Macey Brown (52nd, 20:03.3) and Destiny Shore (5th, 20:09.9).
On the boys’ side Hillsboro seniors Noah Mayberry and Logan Rohn earned returned trips to state.
Mayberry earned his second consecutive state berth with a third-place finish (16:27.7).
“Noah took down three guys that beat him at conference,” said Leis.
Rohn earned his third straight trip to state with an eighth-place finish (16:49.1). Rohn becomes the first three-time state qualifier in school history.
“Logan had a very intense race but to be honest I never doubted him because I have watched him get the job done at sectionals for the last two previous seasons,” added Leis.
Freshman Zach O’Hair placed 40th (18:31.1) while senior Charles Strait finished 42nd (18:39.1). Junior Avery Rueckheim placed 66th (19:35.4).
The Hillsboro boys placed fourth as a team (151), behind team state qualifiers Westby (53) and Brookwood (69), and third-place Cochrane–Fountain City (69).