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Wednesday

July 2014

23

Cross country

Houston, Frieler out front all season

Houston, Frieler were strong at state

Take notice, Wisconsin state high school girls cross country aficionados. The Oconomowoc High School duo of freshman Marlie Houston and junior Riley Frieler made a huge statement to their competition last Saturday at the WIAA Division 1 state meet at the Ridges Golf Course in Wisconsin Rapids.

They turned in the best 1-2 combination ever at the state meet in Oconomowoc school history.

Houston, a relative unknown at the start of the season, finished in 11th place in the field of 190 runners. She covered the challenging 4,000-meter course in 14:44.16. That's the fastest time ever run by an Oconomowoc runner at state. Mandy Prom had the previous best time of 14:58 in 2009.

Houston was less than 34 seconds behind the individual race winner, Baraboo senior McKaela Christenson, who was timed at 14:12.65. She was just 20 seconds behind Arrowhead junior Jackie Dubnicka, who placed third.

Running in the state meet for the second straight year, the second-year cross country runner Frieler finished in 24th place with a time of 15:06.11.

In the record books

Houston not only recorded the fastest time ever at the state meet but also grabbed the third-highest individual finish. The best finish is a ninth by Prom in 2009 and the second-best placement is a 10th by Charlene Trimmer in 1983. With her 24th place finish, Frieler now has the fourth-best state meet finish.

Houston, 14, turned out to be a big surprise for the Raccoons this season. She had run some track meets in grade school but never took part in any cross country events.

"I kind of went out for cross country because I wasn't going to do anything else in the fall," Houston said. "I had run the 800 and the mile in those grade school track meets, but I never had gone farther than that. My sister Maddie was on the team so I thought I'd give it a try. I shocked myself when I won my first race."

Over the hills

Houston was one of four freshmen at the state meet who grabbed places in the top 11, the first time that's ever happened. She said her strategy was to run with the Arrowhead girls, who won the state championship for the second straight year.

"I was really nervous on the drive up to state on Friday and Saturday before the race," Houston said. "It was horrible. But once the gun went off, I settled down and followed my plan. I wanted to stick with the Arrowhead girls. I knew if I did that, I'd be in good shape at the end. I hadn't seen the course before Saturday. The hills got me a little. Next year, if I'm fortunate enough to get back to state, I'll spend more time working on the hills."

Frieler, 17, finished in 52nd place of 190 runners with a time of 15:33 during her first state appearance last year. She ramped up her offseason regimen.

"I think all the mileage I did in the summer really made a difference, not only at the state meet for me, but all season long," Frieler said. "But it also really helped to have Marlie on the team. She's so good that she pushed me and the other girls to do better."

Like Houston, Frieler also had a plan going into Saturday's race. She was 26th after the first mile, 25th at the two mile mark and gained one more spot at the finish.

"I ran with Delaney Foster of Middleton almost the entire race," Frieler said. "We not only pushed each other to do well but also talked a lot during the race and we encouraged each other to do the best we could. That made both of us relax. I'm excited about how well both Marlie and I did. I'm excited about our team for next year. This was a very good way to finish the season."

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