West Allis - All season long, the West Allis Hale boys cross country team has been rated among the top in the state, and now the Huskies are proving worthy of that status.
They captured second place in a WIAA Division 1 sectional meet on Saturday at Washington Park, qualifying as a unit for this weekend's state meet in Wisconsin Rapids.
Hale tallied 57 points to finish just four behind Marquette, which won with 53 points. Both teams will compete in the state event at the Ridges Golf Course at 12:20 p.m. Oct. 27.
It promises to be a gala event, as the WIAA is celebrating the 100th anniversary of the state cross country meet.
Hale head coach Ron Kurtz, who is marking a milestone of his own this year with his 40th season of coaching cross country, is certainly happy to be part of the landmark race.
'We're going to state!' Kurtz said. 'This is the first team from Hale to qualify for the state finals in any WIAA sport since the boys cross country team did so in 2004.'
The Hale boys who will run at state are senior Milan Stojanovic, senior Sam Gagliano, senior Robert Effinger, sophomore Dan Nelson, junior Tony Lozano, junior Tim Ebben and sophomore Bailey Keune.
They will be joined at Rapids by a pair of Hale girls, as both junior Ellie Probst and freshman Madison Mihaljevic qualified at their sectional meet Saturday.
For the boys, Stojanovic finished sixth in the 80-runner sectional field in 16 minutes, 58 seconds, Gagliano 10th (17:13), Effinger 11th (17:20), Nelson 13th (17:24), Lozano 17th (17:46) and Ebben 40th (18:42).
Keune qualified by taking fourth of 314 runners in the South Milwaukee Junior Varsity Invitational on Oct. 18.
Kurtz praised Marquette, the one team to get the best of his squad in the sectional.
'We finished behind Marquette by four points after finishing a single point behind (the Hilltoppers) last week in the Greater Metro Conference Meet,' the coach said. 'We ran well in both meets. We tip our hat to Marquette, as (the Hilltoppers) beat us both times, as opposed to us losing.'
On the girls side, Probst ran ninth (16:26) and Mihaljevic 12th (16:37) to earn their tickets to state. They will compete at 2:20 p.m. Oct. 27.
'They are the 11th and 12th Hale girls to qualify for the state meet,' head coach Terry Labinski said. 'Mihaljevic is the second Hale freshman ever to qualify.'
The other Hale girls were Alyssa Drajkowski in 24th (17:11), April Koshen 33rd (17:22), Emily Zelten 37th (17:44), Caroline Daniels 39th (17:47) and Elizabeth Elliott 43rd (18:13).
The Huskies tallied 115 points for fifth place in the meet, which was won by Whitefish Bay with 24 points.