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Freshman Haas qualifies for state cross country meet
Tiger girls finish fifth
annie haas ryla vatland
Hillsboro's Annie Haas keeps pace with Westbys Ryla Vatland across the highest point on the Westby cross country course during the sectional race. - photo by Nate Beier photo/

WESTBY — Hillsboro’s Annie Haas became only the second girl in school history and the first freshman, boy or girl, to qualify for the WIAA state cross country meet.

Haas, who won the individual Scenic Bluffs Conference championship meet a week earlier, finished seventh overall with a time of 20:15.6 at Saturday’s WIAA Division 3 Westby Sectional to earn one of the five individual state berths.

The top two teams advance to state, as well as the top five individuals not on a qualifying team.

“We knew going into the meet that Westby was going to win the sectional and advance as a team, and we were pretty sure Aquinas would be the second team,” said Hillsboro head coach Ben Leis. “Annie did a really good job of going out hard and getting in position to qualify for state and ran hard to stay there. I’m very proud of her of her effort.”

Westby won the girls’ sectional title with 40 points. Led by individual champion Jennifer Lichter (18:58.9), Aquinas finished second with 60 points. Hillsboro placed fifth with 158 points.

The Division 3 girls’ state championship race will begin at 1:30 on Saturday at The Ridge Golf Course in Wisconsin Dells.

Haas joins junior teammate Breanna Beaver as the only other girls in Hillsboro history to qualify for state.

Beaver qualified for state a year ago, but was hindered by a knee injury this year before finally being shut down for the season in late September. She is seeing a specialist and hopes to be able to play basketball this winter.

“It was a tough season for Breanna,” said Leis. “We really could have used her at conference this year. Hopefully she can be ready for track in the spring and even basketball this winter.”

Senior Adrianna Reese finished 35th (22:37.8) and classmate Shauna Parish placed 36th (22:44). Senior Michaela Bach placed 53rd (23:48.1) and senior Macey Brown finished 70th (25:23.0) in her final race.

“We have a whole slew of senior girls we are losing with Michaela, Macey, Adrianna and Shauna,” said Lies. “They have all been great leaders for us and we are really going to miss them.”

Senior Avery Rueckheim placed 54th at 19:28.9 in his final race. Junior Skyler Fisher placed 68th at 19:51.8 and sophomore Zach O’Hair was 73rd at 20:01.3. Senior Mitch Beckwith finished 90th at 21:06.4.

The Hillsboro boys scored 357 points to place 15th as a team.

La Crosse Aquinas won the boys’ team title with 55 points, and Brookwood (91) finished second to earn the other team berth to state.

Westby junior Spencer Oftedahl won the boys’ individual title with a time of 16:41.9.