WISCONSIN RAPIDS – Mauston sophomore Journey Malacina had a pretty good strategy when it came to dealing with her debut at the WIAA State Cross Country Championships.

“Just go as fast as I could the whole time,” Malacina said of what she wanted to do after running in the Division 2 girls race at the Ridges Golf Course on a chilly Saturday afternoon. The strategy ended up working out pretty well, as she finished in 22nd place with a time of 20 minutes, 12 seconds.

Malacina, who qualified for the state meet by finishing fourth at the Oct. 21 Division 2 Westby Sectional in 19:49, was in 27th place after the first mile, which she covered in 6:05. She moved up to 21st after running the second mile in 6:41 before finishing 22nd overall.

The sophomore said Saturday’s race was a learning experience.

“It was very crowded, crazy and chaotic, but it was a good race overall,” Malacina said. “I was just focusing. There are so many people everywhere, so I was trying to focus on the person in front of me.”

New Lisbon’s Owen Jones also made his debut at the state championships on Saturday. The freshman runner ended up finishing 69th in the Division 3 boys race in 18:00.

“I got out in about my normal pace. I didn’t want to go out too fast or else you burn out with the other kids,” Jones said. “The first mile, you get your pace out from the beginning. After the first mile, you just do your own thing, don’t pay attention to anyone else.”

Jones, who qualified for the state meet by finishing 12th at the Division 3 Durand Sectional on Oct. 21, said Saturday’s cold weather made breathing a bit more difficult than normal, but that wasn’t anything he couldn’t handle.

“You got to run in any kind of weather, so you got to be ready for anything,” Jones said.