Once her vision cleared, Samantha Wilcox could see Wisconsin Rapids as plain as day.
And so could the rest of the Boscobel girls cross country team.
As for Eric Mindham, one word said it all for he and the rest of the seniors on Boscobel's boys cross country team.
"Redemption," he said.
Both the Bulldog girls and boys cross country teams got a measure of it Saturday by qualifying for the state meet with their performances at the WIAA Division 3 sectional meet.
The state meet takes place Saturday at The Ridges Golf Course in Wisconsin Rapids.
Hosted by Boscobel at Zimpel Farm, the meet saw Bulldogs' freshman Keely Foley win the girls' individual race handily as she topped the field by more than 40 seconds.
With Foley out front, Wilcox pushed herself past the point of exhaustion to place fourth, and afterward, those two and the remaining Boscobel girls waited to hear whether they had made it to state or not.
"I couldn't see straight after I crossed the finish line," said Wilcox, who had to be helped off the course after the race to catch her breath.
Wilcox and the rest of the Boscobel girls' team were crushed in 2010 when they missed out on going to state after making 10 straight trips to Wisconsin Rapids.
They made sure to punch their ticket this time around, as did a boys' squad, led by Ryan Mindham's second-place showing, that hasn't been to state since 2004.
Foley was clearly the star of Saturday's meet, man-aging the course's hills with apparent ease.
Was it as easy as it looked?
"No, it was exhausting," said Foley, who ran a time of 15:18. "I think I ran faster than the last time I ran on this course, and it's all thanks to my teammates pushing me."
Foley beat Darlington's Christa Wamsley and Hannah Robiolio by 44 and 45 seconds, respectively.
"Darlington really pushes you," said Foley.
Wilcox, a senior, chased hard after Wamsley and Robiolio, finishing just six seconds behind that latter Redbird runner.
"For me and the Darlington runner, it was back and forth," said Wilcox, who finished in 16:09. "I just wanted to push myself as hard as I could."
Had the Bulldogs not made it as a team, Wilcox would have made it to state as an individual runner. But, that was not the main goal for Wilcox and company.
In the end, they had to sweat it out, wondering if they had, indeed, qualified for state. In the team stand-ings, Darlington was the clear winner, compiling 36 points with four runners finishing in the top 10.
Knowing they couldn't catch the Redbirds, the Bulldogs had to see if they had scored better than Hillsboro. They did, winning by 23 points.
Shelby Davis's 11th place finish was big, as she ran a time of 17:01. Freshman Autumn Moret was 24th, running a 17:52, and junior Lachen Esters placed 31st in 18:04.
"The girls put a good race together," said Boscobel coach Skyler Reynolds, "and running on their home course, it was awesome for them to make it to state."
While the Boscobel girls were waiting on final word about their fate, the Bulldog boys were fighting to keep their season alive as well.
Before the meet, observers figured it would come down to Boscobel or Albany to see who would join Darlington in Wisconsin Rapids.
"The last half mile, I didn't know if it would go our way," said Reynolds. "As it was winding down, I didn't know. It was so close. We needed every individual."
That included Ryan Mindham, who fought hard to keep up with winner Tyson Miehe of Darlington but ended up finishing second in 17:01.
"I started out a lot faster," said Ryan, comparing his sectionals performance to his last race at Zimpel.
Though he was pleased with his performance, Ryan said, "I feel better that the team made it."
And so they did, with a total of 64 points, compared to Albany's 76. Darlington finished atop the boys' team standings with 28 points.
Eric Mindham placed 12th in the race, running a 17:53. Logan Wacker was nipping at his heels, finishing six seconds back at 17:59.
Running strong as a pack, Boscobel also got a 15th place finish from Nate Boughton (18:05) and a 21st place showing from Jon Frazier (18:22) to finish the scoring.
Cole Clark was 24th with a time of 18:37 and Cam-eron Cashman was 43rd for Boscobel, running a time of 19:59.
"I knew we were close with Albany, but we ran our race rather than worrying about what everybody else was doing," said Reynolds, who was particularly happy for his senior boys.
They had come so close in their previous three sectionals but just missed out on going to state.
"These boys, the seniors, were third as freshman, third as sophomores, and fourth as juniors," said Reynolds. "It means a lot to them, and they led the younger guys."
Eric Mindham summed up the feelings of the entire boys team when he said, "It's unbelievable. We worked so hard for this."
Talking about this year's team, he added, "We're much more mature. We're confident, not arrogant. It feels good to get there, and I want to thank all the teammates we've had in the past, because they helped us get to state, too."