Nolan Rudd is wrapping up his high-school cross-country career and Emma Polenske is just beginning hers, but both are headed to the WIAA Division 1 state meet.
The two Greendale runners qualified for state with their performances in a sectional on Oct. 22 at Grant Park in South Milwaukee.
Rudd, a senior, came in ninth individually with 16 minutes, 47 seconds to earn the fourth qualifying spot and will be going to state for the first time in his career.
Polenske, a freshman, placed fifth with a personal-best 19:30 to grab the girls' first individual qualifying spot for state.
Both will compete Saturday, Oct. 29, at the Ridges Golf Course in Wisconsin Rapids.
Rudd made charge
"It was not Nolan's best race this year," coach Corey Binnebose said, "but he made a decision that as a senior, he wasn't going to give up. He was in a cluster of people mid-race and knew he had to get ahead of those boys. He found enough energy to bust out of the cluster and get across the finish line in a qualifying spot.
"Emma had her best race of the year at the right time. As a freshman, she was nervous but kept her confidence in her ability and ran a steady, strong race. After the 1-mile mark, Emma passed one girl who had beaten her (earlier this season) and then realized she was having a good day and kept pressing hard. Emma has a lot more running ability in her as she increases her miles slowly."
As happy as he was for Rudd and Polenske, Binnebose was disappointed for Job Roloff, who wound up just one spot out of qualifying, taking 12th with 16:57.
"He was slightly off his game," the coach said. "Of all the races I have coached, this one hurts me the most. Job has spent the last year doing everything needed, and today, he got a sideache that was out of his control."
As a junior, though, Roloff will get another opportunity at state.
Following on the boys team were Ryan Unruh in 18th (17:14), Logan Lutz 23rd (personal-best 17:22), Logan Groh 49th (personal-best 18:28), Justin Baerwald 50th (18:30) and Matthew Stilling 55th (18:51).
The boys tallied 111 points for fifth place in the 11-team field.
For the girls, Kelsey Sodemann came in 23rd (21:21), Alyssa Dobbs 32nd (22:39), Cassidy Sanchez 33rd (personal-best 22:41), Bella Thiel 37th (personal-best 22:51), Ally Coombs 39th (22:59) and Madison Ryback 42nd (23:10).
"Kelsey was near her personal best and had a strong race," Binnebose said. "She only ran half the season and just started getting into race flow last week. I am looking forward to another three seasons of her running."
The Panthers were fourth with 130 points, topping South Milwaukee (131), which had beaten them by 26 points in the Woodland Conference Meet the previous week.
Greendale's only seniors are Rudd and Groh for the boys team.