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Patzka shines at state

Vanguards standout races to fifth place finish

 

November 1, 2018

Jeffrey Spreen

Wisconsin Heights' Christian Patzka finished in fifth place at the WIAA Division 2 state cross country meet.

It was the race of his life in the year of his life.

Wisconsin Heights junior cross country star Christian Patzka went to the WIAA Division 2 state meet with high hopes and huge dreams. Patzka then made them all a reality.

Patzka finished fifth individually in a race held at The Ridges Golf Course in Wisconsin Rapids. Patzka finished the 5,000-meter course in 16 minutes, 27.0 seconds, not far off the winning time of East Troy senior Henry Chapman (15:59.3)

"Christian ran a perfect race at state," Heights coach Sara Lazarescu said. "He put in the extra mileage during the season, pushed himself through countless track repeats, and prepared himself mentally for the challenge a tough race can bring."

Patzka was in 20th place after the first mile, but worked his way up to ninth place after the second mile. Patzka then closed with a bang, moving all the way up to fifth place by the finish.

"We went into the season with high goals of placing top 15, but Christian's strength showed on Saturday as he made moves throughout the second mile to set himself to tackle the hills in the last mile," Lazarescu said. "Where other runners started to fade, Christian maintained his pace and form in order to push for a fast finish in the last 400 meters."

Jeffrey Spreen

Christian Patzka was the highest finisher at state among runners that weren't seniors.

The meet capped off a sensational year in which Patzka won the Capitol Conference South Division title and led the Vanguards to a third place conference finish, then qualified for state after finishing third at the star-studded River Valley Sectional.

The top four finishers at the state meet were seniors, meaning Patzka had the highest finish among runners that will return in 2019. Lazarescu believes plenty of great things lie ahead for Patzka, but for the time being, was just savoring a memorable 2018.

"As a coach, having an athlete be a student of the sport is the most you can ask for," Lazarescu said. "We studied the course together, and he executed the racing strategy perfectly. Christian is humble in his victory and we're focusing on enjoying the results of the work he put in. Next season? Who knows. We're going to stay in the moment for now."

 
 

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