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A family affair

Mother, daughter ran at state

By Greg Seubert

Rylee Bartel didn’t have to look far to get advice on how to prepare for the WIAA State Cross Country Championships.

Just ask Mom.

Bartel, a junior on Weyauwega-Fremont girls’ cross country team, competed at the state meet Oct. 28 in Wisconsin Rapids, where the Indians placed 16th in Division 3.

It was the first time a W-F girls’ team had been to state since 1994. Bartel’s mother, Jessicah, was on that team that placed 12th in Division 2.

“She told me everything,” Rylee said. “She told me that I just need to relax. She’s been encouraging me this whole season. She tries to come to all of my meets.”

That includes a sectional meet Oct. 21 in Westfield, where the Indians qualified for state after finishing second behind another Central Wisconsin Conference team, Bonduel.

“I was at the sectional last week, but did not realize they had qualified for state until I had left,” Jessicah said. “We were very excited – actually shocked – because we did not think they had made it.”

Besides Jessicah, the 1994 team coached by Arnie Behnke included Andrea Yach, Rhae Schneider, Denise Bork, Andie Loehrke, Sarah Breest and Brianne Beisner.

“I think it’s really cool just because since then, we’re the only team that has gone (to state),” Rylee said.

“We had a good group of kids, just like this year,” Jessicah said. “It’s neat to see kids that are so close that have a lot of fun running together and pushing each other. That’s what you need behind you, the challenge of one pushing the next.”

The 1993 W-F girls’ team that included Jamie and Andie Loehrke, Andrea and Rhonda Yach, Bork, Shelli Kleist and Shelby Fisher also made it to state and placed sixth in Division 2.

“Right now, it’s not really hitting me, but I know it will once I get to the start line,” Rylee said before the race began. “We all know that we have to keep our nervousness down, relax and run.”

She ended up placing 142nd out of 151 runners. Allison Halat led the Indians by placing 74th, followed by Kaitlyn Monty (86th), Natalie Schneider (97th), Katie Bleck (126th), Saylor Alberts (143rd) and Mikyla Reeck (150th).

The team didn’t have a senior in the lineup.

“I think that makes them special because they have all next year yet to see what they can do,” Jessicah said.

“We’re a family,” Rylee said. “We work together and want to achieve our goals. As soon as the season started, we just knew that we could go to state, so we just worked our best at practices and always did the maximum workouts just so that we could come here.”

The Indians were one of six teams out of the Central Wisconsin Conference – three girls’ teams and three boys’ squads – that advanced to state.

“We just use them as encouragement,” Rylee said. “As long as we stay with them, we know that we can make it and achieve our goals.”

Rylee also played volleyball this fall.

“Rylee was out for volleyball and decided she wanted to do dual sports this year,” Jessicah said. “I was actually totally against it. Trying to hold down two sports and homework, it’s difficult. It was her dad that allowed her to do it. I played volleyball the first two years and then ran cross country my junior and senior years. Once she came out for cross country, it was really neat to see her out there and you knew they had a chance.”

Jessicah was at the finish line as Rylee and her teammates finished their race, but didn’t spend much time with her daughter in the week leading up to the meet.

“I didn’t get to talk to her much because I was out of town all week,” she said. “It was kind of a challenge, but we just told her to do the best she could and have fun with it because this is something you will remember forever.”

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