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Wykons CC continues to battle

IRON RIVER—Cross county is a sport notoriously known for testing the physical and mental endurance of its athletes. There aren’t many sports in which it’s common to see several of the participants fall down in exhaustion immediately afterward.
    This season, the West Iron County girls team has confronted the normal challenges of the sport as well as a few others. Before the campaign began, the Wykons lost both junior Avery Bociek and freshman Haleigh Matthews to injury, each with a broken foot. With those losses, the bulk of West Iron’s lineup was filled with runners who also played tennis during the fall season, leaving the Wykons short of the required number of runners to complete a full squad in a couple of meets.
    One of those dual-athletes, senior Kali Dennis, estimated that she attended approximately 10 cross-country workouts because of the number of tennis matches on her schedule.
    Given all that, coach Kristi Berutti is appreciative of the work her team has put in, including during the West Iron Invitational on Oct. 7 at Young’s.
    “I mean, I can only say good things about the girls because six of them (were) doing two sports and that’s hard,” Berutti said. “They’re going non-stop.
    “I think the season is going fine. I mean, we had some injuries …. The tennis girls have been great, they go to tennis, they come here. The dual-athlete thing, I think, is a great thing.”
    The Wykons finished seventh of the seven teams that qualified for the team competition. Kingsford won the team title with 39 points, followed by Hancock (60), Westwood (61), Houghton (71), Calumet (114), Ironwood (188) and West Iron (191).
    Negaunee’s talented senior Emily Paupore won the individual crown in 19:33.4, finishing about 90 seconds in front of runner-up Melanie Wenzel of Kingsford. Rounding out the individual top five were Talon Prusi of Negaunee (21:03.5), Ingrid Seagren of Houghton (21:11.3) and Elizabeth Williams of Westwood (21:32.8).
     The Wykons were led once again by junior Zoe Kolenda, who showed her fighting spirit by battling a health issue to finish 28th in 24:02.7, one of her top times of the season.
    “For me, I got a really bad side cramp right off the bat,” Kolenda said. “It was just today, happened to be a bad day for it.”
    Kolenda said she thought the issue was caused by insufficient water intake before the race.
    “But, I still pushed through, so I’d say (that) was pretty good.”
    Berutti said that it’s important that Kolenda can acknowledge her effort like that.

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