Stoughton senior Jayden Zywicki closed out a standout prep career with a strong kick.
Zywicki finished 24th place with a time of 16 minutes, 36.4 seconds at the WIAA Division 1 state cross country meet on Saturday, Oct. 30, at the Ridges Golf Course in Wisconsin Rapids.
Zywicki is only the third Stoughton athlete to become a three-time state qualifier. He joins some elite company in cross country for the Vikings. The last runner to compete in four straight state meets was Aaron Castleberg in 2000. Zywicki had the second-best finish at state for a Stoughton runner in the alternate fall season last spring when he took 10th at the Blackhawk Golf Course in Janesville.
Neenah senior Austin Henderson won the individual state championship with a time of 15:40.5, 4.1 seconds ahead of runner-up Patrick Wills of Waukesha North. Verona senior Aidan Manning took 26th (16:37).
“That course will shred your legs,” Stoughton boys cross country coach Patrick Schneider said. “I’m very happy he had a kick at the end.”
Zywicki got out to a fast start running the first mile in 5:05. With the second mile being all uphill or downhill, he ran the second mile in 5:35.
“It takes a lot out of your legs,” Schneider said. “Even when you know when it is coming it’s kind of shock therapy. That happens to everyone, even the guys at the top of the race.”
In the final 800 meters, Zywicki zipped by several runners, including Manning and Stevens Point senior James Jacobs to finish 24th.
“He probably saved his best race for his last,” Schneider said. “It wasn’t his fastest., but that course is brutal. It wasn’t about time. It was about place. He passed several kids he hasn’t beaten this season. For him to beat Aidan Manning at state really is an accomplishment.”