Hailey Migliano, the only senior on the Franklin girls cross-country team, went to the WIAA state meet by herself last year.
It was not an enjoyable experience.
"No, it wasn't; it's always a lot more fun going with a team, a lot more," she said.
But after a rough and tumble regular season, where several low finishes in invitationals took the full measure of the emotional strength of the Sabers, they're going back as a team after a runner-up finish in the WIAA sectional at UW-Parkside on Oct. 22.
Migliano is happy to be going back to state for a third time with her friends. She was also part of the team that advanced in 2014.
"The season was definitely a little rough," she said. "We won conference (on Oct. 15), and that definitely helped, but for awhile we weren't sure which way the season would go. Coach (Regina Schindel) told us to trust the training, that we were running against hard teams and tough girls for a reason."
So they could toe the line at the Ridges Golf Course in Wisconsin Rapids at 3:05 p.m. Saturday, Oct. 29, when the WIAA D1 state meet is held.
Schindel was happy the team did trust the process.
"It went really well," she said. "The kids went out there knowing what they had to do. We were hoping for a few more personal bests, but we did what we had to do."
She's very pleased for Migliano, who has been a good leader for a team that features three freshmen and a sophomore in the starting seven.
"She really wanted to make it with the team," said Schindel. "Going as an individual was just not as much fun for her. She's super excited."
The Sabers scored 75 points for their spot in the 10 full-team sectional field as Muskego cruised to the title with 41.
Migliano was eighth on the 5,000-meter course in 19:54, while freshman Clare Pitcher was ninth (20:12). Other scoring runners included sophomore Jolene Mantoan in 15th (20:38), freshman Whitney Thomas in 19th (21:00) and freshman Leslie Davis in 23rd (21:04). Also running were Meghan Gain in 30th (21:29) and Janel Sweet in 53rd (22:35).
Schindel said Mantoan came up with a "big race" and Thomas and Davis also turned in personal bests.
A really good story, Schindel said, was Sweet, who raced in the South Milwaukee nonvarsity last-chance meet Oct. 20 and then turned around and filled in for an ill competitor in the Oct. 22 sectional.
"She gave us a solid seventh (runner)," Schindel said.
Schindel said expectations will probably be low for Franklin at state but added the team is feeling a lot better about itself after passing the test of the challenging regular season.
"Everybody tends to get out fast at state so that will pull everyone along," she said. "If we hold on strong, I wouldn't be surprised if we had at least a few PRs."
"We talked a lot to the coaches," she said, "and we believe that all the hard work that we've done has finally paid off. We believed we could do it (advance to state), and we did it. We've pushed so hard; we expect some PRs.""
They also plan on enjoying the experience.
"Definitely," Migliano said. "We're planning some good spirit stuff everyday this week. We're going to make it fun."