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One hundred sixty-seven runners lined up on the starting line for the men’s Cross Country State meet on Saturday, Nov. 6.
Webster’s men’s varsity cross country team was among the pack of runners there.
Of the 86 teams in Class 4, Webster was part of the small group of 16 schools that qualified for State. The seven varsity runners who participated in the state meet for Webster were sophomore James Rizzo, senior Tom Chenault, sophomores Sam Berg and Dillion Williams, junior Brian Cole and seniors Drew Hagin and Kyle Wiese. Webster placed 16th.
Last year the varsity team qualified and placed 16th at the State meet. At the end of the season, it also graduated three of its top four runners, so even qualifying for state seemed like no easy task, at the beginning of the season for head coach Dan Sebben.
“I thought we could only have one or two guys that would qualify for State, but we had to step up, and there were a couple of good teams we had to beat, and we made it to State,” said Sebben. “I thought we’d be in a rebounding phase, but we had a nice season.”
“We lost our core of guys last year, and we thought this would be a rebuilding year,” said Chenault.
This marks the second year in a row that the Statesmen have qualified for a State and placed 16th out of 16 teams.
“There were a lot of fast people there. All of the people that make us look good weren’t there,” said Chenault.
Of the 670 runners in all classes that participated in the State meet, only 280 broke 18 minutes at the state course. Of those 280 runners that did, 152 of them were from Class 4.
“If you look at the other classes, it was by far the fastest class,” said Head Cross country coach, Dan Sebben.
This year was also the first time that Sebben had all seven varsity runners break 18 minutes at the state course.
“If you can break 18 at the state meet it means you’ve run a respectable race,” said Sebben.
Finishing first place on the team and placing 111 overall with a time of 17:25:45 was Rizzo. Wiese finished seventh on the team and placed 150 at the race with a time of 17:58.91.
“We had 34 seconds between our first and seventh runners,” said Sebben. “When everybody is close together, your spread of points isn’t so big, and that’s what helped us go to state.”
Next year three out of their four top runners plan to return.
“That’s a pretty good core coming back,” said Sebben about his returning team. They also plan on doing a lot of off-season work to prepare for next season.
“This is a sport that you have to work at,” Sebben said. “It’s all about training year round. Talent is overrated.”