Oregon sophomore Yordanos Zelinski qualified for the Division 1 state meet by keeping things as simple as possible.
Thus, there was no reason for him to stray from the training and running style that allowed him to compete against a stacked field Saturday, Nov. 2, at the Ridges Golf Course in Wisconsin Rapids.
Zelinski finished 82nd out of 190 runners with a time of 17:03.5, the 10th-best time among all sophomores.
“It felt like another 5K race,” he said. “I didn’t want to psych myself out. I was chill about it, and nothing really affected me.”
Zelinski averaged 6:10.5 per mile. He was 81st after the first mile (5:12.5), and crossed the two-mile mark in 85th (10:53).
“He ran a great, consistent race,” Oregon boys coach Erik Haakenson said. “His PR is just south of 17 minutes, so that’s a good time on a challenging course. He was very smooth and calm.”
Zelinski ran into the same challenge that faced the other runners. The first mile is flat, but the final two miles are full of small yet steep hills.
“I used the downhills to my advantage. I’d pass four or five kids on them,” he said. “Then I tried to move up and maintain with a new group.”
Haakenson had Zelinski back off on mileage leading up to the race, but every other part of the preparation process stayed the same. He trained with his teammates, then felt their support as they made the trip north to cheer him on at state.
Zelinski already has the goal of qualifying for the Division 1 state track and field meet in more than one event. He was a part of the Panthers’ 4x400 relay team that qualified for state last spring. Then, he will formulate a goal for his junior cross country season.
“He’ll turn his focus to track first and see what he can knock out in the 800 (meters) and mile,” Haakenson said. “He’s a talented athlete that can excel in whatever event he’s put in.”
Middleton won the Division 1 team title with 104 points. Hortonville senior Jake Krause crossed the finish line first with a time of 15:34.2.