The Brookfield Central boys cross country team performed well, but sickness and injuries kept the Lancers from reaching some of their goals.
"This team competed like I expected they would," Central coach Ronn Blaha said. "Only a late season sickness to two of our varsity runners kept us from reaching our goal of repeating as conference champ and returning to state.
"They were a relatively inexperienced group coming into the season. Aside from (Carl) Hirsch and (Kevin) Rindfleisch, no one had more than a season of varsity experience. Still, they ran consistently well and were very competitive in all of the meets.
"With a little better health, we're right in the mix of that extremely competitive conference, and we were close to taking that second spot to qualify for state."
Team nabs fourth in GMC
The Lancers finished fourth in the Greater Metro Conference behind Brookfield East, Marquette and West Allis Hale.
Blaha had three four-year seniors on the team in Hirsch, Zack Heilman and Thomas Markey.
"Carl had success early, but always sought ways to be better," Blaha said. "He had an incredible work ethic that caused him to be successful and to be the best distance runner in the history of Central."
He was All-State, All-Conference and a member of the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel All-Area, all first-team selections.
He set the Highlander Invite and Tendick Park course record of 15 minutes, 45 seconds; set the Muskego Lake Denoon course record at sectionals (15:35); set the Muskego Invite record (15:42); set the Menomonee Falls Rotary Park course and meet record (15:22.8) and the Angel Invite meet record (15:22.1), which is also a school record. He also finished second at the prestigious Griak Invite.
"Carl had such an incredible season and incredible career," Blaha said. "He deserves all of the success that he has had. It is a shame that he had an off race at state, but he had so many memorable races that that one will be erased."
Heilman overcame injuries early in his high school career.
"He was determined to come back from that injury a stronger runner, which he did," Blaha said. "He really worked hard in the off-season to make some great gains this year."
Markey had some lofty expectations and he put in the work during the off-season and was motivated to get on varsity.
"He had such a good season," Blaha said. "It was great to see all that work pay off and have him reach his goals. He was such a steady runner throughout his four years."
Robert Billings, John Scanlon, Andrew Dusing and David Ohlsson were first-year runners in their senior year.
Three other conference selections
Central had three other All-Conference selections in Pearson, Trasser and Rindfleisch, who earned third-team honors.
Central also had three captains, Keegan Favill, Heilman and Hirsch.
"They really did a nice job in that role," Blaha said. "All three led by example, setting the tone for the rest of the team not only for this season but in the future as well."
The Lancers had 11 letter winners, led by seniors Hirsch, Markey, Heilman, Favill, Dusing, Russ Vandenberg and John Tzortzos.
Juniors Pearson and Rindfleisch, sophomore Tsang and freshman Trasser round out the list.
"Since we were young and had some talent pop up from some underclassmen, we are set up very well for next season," Blaha said. "I think we have the pieces in place to be near the top of the state next season."
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