Gone is longtime coach Greg Russick, replaced by rookie head man Scott Pryzstas. Also gone are four graduated seniors who helped lead the Bucs to a third-place finish at last year’s state meet — and to a state championship the year before.
The one constant through it all is Claire Borchers, who was the first Buccaneer finisher at sixth overall her freshman year, then battled through shin splints to place 11th at last year’s state meet.
Now just a junior, she’s running better than ever thanks to improved health and a new outlook on her role on the team.
That helped Borchers run to an overall championship at last Saturday’s Division 1 regional meet — a regional that included four of the top-10 ranked teams in the state.
“It was actually a surprise,” Borchers said of her regional crown. “I was no expecting to go out and win it. I was thinking top four, but I was feeling really good. I had taken a break earlier in the week, which helped my shins a lot.
“When I was running, before I passed the girl to take over first place, I thought of my teammates, how bad it would stink if they didn’t make it to state, and I remembered how hard the other girls worked when I was a freshman.”
As she neared the finish line, Borchers thought she saw Rockford’s Lauren Brasure, the second-place finisher, close on her heels.
“I thought she was right behind me, but it was actually someone else, a spectator,” laughed Borhcers, whose time of 18 minutes, 23.44 seconds gave her the win by more than 5 seconds. “I haven’t run in front yet this season. It was fun to get up front. I had kind of forgotten what it was like to run up there.
“I really needed that for myself. Now going into state, I’m the most excited I’ve ever been about cross country.”
Borchers and teammate Roxy Glasser, who placed eighth in the regional meet at 18:51, split their time between cross country and travel soccer.
Glasser also helped contribute to the Bucs’ outstanding showing at the state meet last year, placing 12th overall.
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