By the time the championship meets rolled around, the Wauwatosa East boys cross-country team was at its best.
The Red Raiders overcame injuries to peak late in the season, as they ran to a second-place finish at the Greater Metro Conference meet and took third at sectionals, falling just short of a team trip to state.
"This season was a bit unusual with the number of injuries for key individuals that caused them to miss meets throughout the season," Wauwatosa East coach Makenzie Laska said. "Despite those injuries, we had the best performance ever by Tosa East in the GMC championship meet and were runner-up for the fourth consecutive year. The boys used the momentum from the conference meet to fuel another great run at the sectional.
"We had 33 boys compete for us this season and about a third of those were new to high school cross-country. On paper this was a 'rebuilding' year, but we rebuilt quickly, and by the championship meets we were ready. The only goal we fell short on was qualifying for state as a team."
After qualifying for the WIAA state meet as an individual and coming in 69th place, sophomore Henry Wellenstein was named Tosa East's Most Valuable Runner.
Sophomore Nate Blischke earned most improved, and senior Jack Sveum was the Don Gehrmann Award recipient and a Greater Metro Conference scholar-athlete.
Senior Faisal Bartlett, junior Ian Tyre and sophomore Liam Nicol received the Red Hat Award. Sveum and Eli Werner were the team's captains.
Sveum was also first-team All-Greater Metro, while Wellenstein, Tyre, Jacob Odrzywolski and Bartlett were second team.
The seniors on the team were Sveum, Bartlett, Jacob Collison, Tom Hoffman, Matt Richards, Isaac Martin and Will Fleury.
"We have a talented group returning that has varsity experience, including three all-conference performers (Wellenstein, Tyre, Odrzywolski), a state qualifier (Wellenstein) and five individuals that have run sub-17:50 for 5,000 meters (Wellenstein, Tyre, Odrzywolski, Nicol, Blischke)," Laska said. "Their dedication to each other and their training in the offseason is a strength of this group. It certainly helps to have an individual like Henry Wellenstein up front to rally behind."