WISCONSIN RAPIDS — When Wisconsin Dells senior Pablito Schulz made the trip up to Wisconsin Rapids to run in the WIAA State Cross Country Meet on Saturday, he knew he was about to run the final cross country race of his career. With that one certainty in mind, Schulz wanted to make sure he gave it his all.
Running in the Division 2 boys race, Schulz finished in 19th place with a time of 16 minutes, 56.6 seconds. It was just the second time this season Schulz broke the 17-minute mark, and it came on the biggest of stages and on one of most challenging courses he has run on this season.
“I’m really proud of myself. I’m really happy with that,” Schulz said after the race. “It’s not top 10, but just based on today’s race, I could feel that was everything I had. That’s what I could have achieved if I gave it everything I did, so I’m really happy.”
The race leaders ran a blistering first mile. At the mile mark, Schulz was in 14th place with a time of 5:06. He did drop back to 20th at the two mile, but was able hang in there down the stretch to guarantee himself a top-20 finish.
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“When I was taking off at first, I could tell that I needed to be up there, or I would have been caught behind a horde of people,” Schulz said. “So when I turned at that first flag, and I was still sitting at 10 or 12, I was happy to be there, because it led to a good race at the end if I could stay in that position.”
The result for Schulz was a huge improvement over his state meet debut from a year ago. Last season, Schulz finished in 57th place in the Division 2 boys race with a time of 17:26.7.
Now Schulz’s cross country career comes to an end, a fact that hit him late in Saturday’s race.
“It hit me turning that last flag, it just kind of came on suddenly and I saw that finish line,” Schulz said. “That’s where it kind of hit me the most. This is the last opportunity I get, so I just started sprinting as hard as I could up that hill and into the finish.”