The High School Cross Country Championships will take place on Saturday, with three Port Washington High School students competiting on an individual level.
Sophomore Eagan Norman and Senior Jason Marhal both qualified for the individual competitions for the 100th annual boys championship. The boys will run a 5,000-meter course at the event at The Ridges Golf Course in Wisconsin Rapids, according to the Wisconsin Interscholastic Athletic Association's website. Senior Bianca Benkley will also participate on an individual level in the 40th annual girls championship, running a 4,000-meter competition.
"Making it to state was one of my big goals this season, and something I've dreamed about doing since middle school," Norman said.
Marhal did not return a request from Patch for comment about heading to state. where he took 31st of 151 boys.
Benkley is a four-time state participant and took 36th of 152 girls in 2011.
"I think my favorite thing about cross country is the team bonding. A lot of my friends do it, and I've known Mr. Pasten through church for most of my life in Port Washington," he said. "I also like just being able to go on a run during a stressful day with the team, and just focus on the run for a while."
Norman said he started running cross country as a fifth-grader as a way to get involved in fall sports.
"I remember some of the guys from the High School coming down and helping with our pre-season practices, and one of the 8th graders Trevor Faldet really motivating me, even though I could barely run half a mile," he said. "I think what keeps me going in a race is just the mental state of not being able to give up. In a race, no matter how much pain I'm in, I'll always try to keep picking people off, up until the final sprint. I think the thought of it also being over, and team experience afterwards motivates me to finish faster."
Though Norman is excited to be heading to state, he said competing invidually — without the team — will be a tough roadblock to overcome.
"I think this weekend what I am going to be most nervous about will be not having my team in the box with me to start," he said. "Before the race we always joke around and motivate each other, and all of that makes me a whole lot less nervous for the race."