Paule earns second trip to state as Falls' girls cross country team scores strong third in sectional
State run in Wisconsin Rapids is on Saturday
Menomonee Falls - What a difference a week makes - especially for Menomonee Falls sophomore girls cross country runner Megan Paule and her teammates.
That's because after a rough time in the Greater Metro Conference meet on Oct. 13, the Indians bounced back in a big way, as Paule earned a repeat berth in the state meet in leading the team to an impressive third-place effort in the WIAA sectional meet Saturday at Arrowhead.
"Megan looked absolutely great," said Falls coach Paul Schramka, "and that was a week after not doing so well. She always seems to follow a bad race with a good one and we had a good supporting cast for her."
Paule, who was 65th out of 190 runners at state in 2011, will advance to the WIAA Division 1 state race on the Ridges Golf Course in Wisconsin Rapids at 2:20 p.m. Saturday.
"I have a little more confidence now," Paule said. "The experience last year will help me handle the pressure and everything else. I haven't set any goals yet, but I will."
Paule finished sixth individually in what is believed to be a school record time of 14:59 on the flat and fast 4,000-meter Arrowhead High School layout. Arrowhead's Payton Wesley won in a quick 14:34 as the defending state champion Warhawks dominated the meet with 19 points.
West Bend West earned the second state team slot with 65 as Falls was next with 121. A total of 11 full teams took part.
Paule said her plan was to latch onto the pack of the top Arrowhead runners and then hold on as best as possible.
"Obviously I knew I couldn't beat them, but I was going to stay as close as possible," she said.
The strategy was a smart one, as the only other individual runner to beat her was North Shore champion Lauren Cunningham of Nicolet, who was third (14:50).
Paule did have solid supporting help as sophomore Jamie Lessila was 22nd (16:08), freshman Tessa Estock was 24th (16:16), sophomore Hannah Nelson was 25th (16:18) and senior Jamie Ertl 44th (16:47). Also running were sophomore Juliette Schefelker in 63rd (17:17) and senior Cassie Visintainer in 65th (17:24).
"We really worked hard over the summer," said Paule of her teammates, "and it showed up. This is probably the strongest team we've had in awhile."
Her coach agreed.
"We've had a pretty good supporting cast all season," he said, "but you don't need a string of lions behind you when you have someone as strong as Megan up front."
Schramka was pleased that Visintainer and Ertl were able to finish their careers on positive notes but felt bad for Schefelker, who was nagged by injuries in the second half of the season.
"To move up from fifth in conference, to third in sectional, the kids really deserve some kudos for that," Schramka said.
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