WISCONSIN RAPIDS – Every coach dreams of leading their team to a state championship, and every coach hopes to see their runner leading the race heading towards the finish line.
Those same dreams hold true for a parent. They also long to see their child achieve their dreams and do their best while doing so.
For Arnie Miehe, the dreams of a coach and the hopes of the parent collided with full force at the 2011 WIAA State Cross Country Meet and the end results were almost too much for the 30-year Darlington head coach to believe.
Miehe not only led his Redbirds to the program’s first state title in 25 years, he did it with two of his sons– senior Kent and sophomore Tyson– leading the way.
Tyson Miehe also gave his father a coaching first by becoming Darlington’s first individual state champion after winning the boys’ Division 3 race at The Ridges Golf Course in Wisconsin Rapids on Saturday, Oct. 29.
“You dream of this and you hope for this, but you don’t know if it’s ever going to happen,” said Coach Miehe. “I kept thinking this could be the best day of my coaching career or the worst. It was definitely going to be one of those because of that anticipation. To do this with your own kids on the team and their classmates who they went to kindergarten with all the way through to high school, you couldn’t ask for anything better.”
The Redbirds (134-6 overall record) were ranked number one in D3 coming into the race– just like they had been their previous two seasons when they placed 12th (in 2009) and fifth (in 2010) at the state meet. But, this time around they weren’t going to go away empty handed or disappointed.
“Usually the state meet doesn’t start until October, but for us we have been thinking about this and training for this ever since track got done last season,” said Kent Miehe. “We’re the best in the state. We worked so hard for this and we definitely earned this.”
Feeding off the best-ever third place finish by the Darlington girls’ cross country team earlier in the day, the Redbirds got off to a fast start in the boys’ race less than two hours later and they never looked back.
Tyson Miehe pulled out with the lead group and stayed with the front-runners until the two-mile mark when he made his move into the lead, and no one could keep up with him from there. The sophomore pulled in with a winning time of 16:02.14 over the 5,000-meter race to become the school’s first state champion. He finished nearly 26 seconds ahead of runner-up Kevin Ryan, a sophomore from Kenosha St. Joseph.
“I decided I was going to go out with (the leaders) and let them do the work. Then, at the two-mile mark, I would take off,” Tyson explained. “It’s unbelievable.”
T. Miehe was followed in by Redbird seniors Destin Komprood, 11th overall (sixth team runner) in 16:50, and Michael Sinclair, 14th (ninth) in 16:54, along with his brother, Kent, 24th (14th) in 17:24.
All three times and places were top marks for the three Redbirds, who combined for 11 state meet appearances for the team. Komprood topped his best state finish by 30 seconds and 13 places in his second state meet, while Sinclair dropped his by a full minute and 44 places in his fourth time at state.
Kent Miehe, who was 143rd overall in over 20 minutes in his two previous state meets, topped his freshmen-year finish by one minute, 10 seconds and a whopping 88 places.
“It was awesome. The team spirit was amazing. It was so cool,” said Sinclair.
Senior Brady McDaniel made the most of his first state appearance by placing 30th (16th) in 17:33 to finish off the team scoring at the meet, while junior Kyle Schulte turned in a personal-best time of 17:57 in his first state run.
“Being a state champion feels great. It is what we worked for and dreamed of,” stated McDaniel, who helped the Redbirds place all five runners among the top 16 team finishers on Saturday. “It feels so great to finish our senior year with the best possible ending to a race. We were confident and comfortable from the start. We all ran our best races, and that’s what we needed to do to get the job done. It’s just spectacular.”
Junior Garth Garrison was the Redbirds’ seventh runner, placing 94th in 18:31.
“We finally got the prize we wanted. We worked all year for it,” said Komprood. “Last year really sucked, so I’m happy to get the title this year.”
Darlington claimed the first-place prize with a team score of 46 points. Grantsburg was second with 74 points, while last year’s champion, Kenosha St. Joseph, finished third at 107.
The championship was a long time coming for Coach Miehe and the Redbirds, who had not won the state title since going back-to-back with firsts in 1985 and 1986. The trophy was the first for the program since posting four straight runner-up performances from 1993-96.
“Because of the length of time between state titles, because of how many times we ran well at state and were close; and, because of all the times we did not run well at state, this was so much more meaningful,” said Arnie Miehe.
The coach was quick to recognize the many Darlington athletes from his previous teams who worked hard to keep the program strong over the years, noting their efforts very much played a part in Saturday’s championship.
“You have those dreams but you wonder if they’re ever going to come true, so when it did it took awhile for me to process that we actually did do it,” stated Miehe.
To have Tyson win it, then have the team win it with both boys on there and with their friends and classmates as well, it was everything I could ask for. To see your kids reach the goal you dream and wish for them, you have to pinch yourself.”
SWAL rival Boscobel placed seventh in D3 race with 192 points.
Hartland Arrowhead (71) finished ahead of Janesville Craig (134) for the D1 boys’ title, while Wisconsin Lutheran (77) topped Nekoosa/Port Edwards (93) for the D2 title.
All of Darlington’s six losses this season came at the Midwest Invitational in Janesville on Sept. 24. Arrowhead won that race as well, followed by Janesville Craig, La Crosse Logan (third in D1), Lake Park (a D1-size school from Illinois), Wisconsin Lutheran, Madison LaFollette (sixth in D1) and Darlington.
On Saturday, Arrowhead also topped the Redbirds’ first-place finish for the boys and third-place finish for the girls by sweeping both D1 state titles.
WIAA DIVISION 3 STATE CROSS COUNTRY MEET
Boys Team Scores: Darlington 46, Grantsburg 74, Kenosha St. Joseph’s 107, Manitowoc Lutheran 178, Rosholt 180, Chequamegon 181, Boscobel 192, Lake Country Lutheran 224, Eau Claire Regis 246, Algoma 248, Marathon 250, Green Lake 274, Colfax 279, Auburndale 322, Blair-Taylor 342, Augusta 367.