Ishan Kuttickat ’19 and Lexi Keppler ’20 represented the University School cross country team in the Division 2 State Cross Country Championships at the Ridges Golf Course in Wisconsin Rapids. Kuttickat placed 53rd out of 152 boys competing in the five-kilometer race, running the distance in 17:23.6. Keppler had a time of 19:57.3. The time broke USM’s record, set in 2016 by Abby Brostrom, by .65 seconds and allowed Keppler to place 23rd out of 152 girls competing in the meet. Only 13 runners in the field of 152 ran faster than her in the final 1.1 miles.
“Ishan was aware of how challenging the second half of the course is and that there is a risk of going out too fast in the excitement of the state's fastest 150 runners,” said USM’s head coach, Eric Pilling. “He ran a very controlled first mile in 90th place. He maintained composure through the middle. During the third mile—by far the toughest portion of the course—he charged past 33 runners, moving from 86th to 53rd, covering the distance at the pace of the top 20 runners. The spectacle of state, and specifically the unique challenges of the Ridges course, can be daunting, especially for a first-time competitor. Ishan made the most of it. The result was our highest individual boy's finish in Division 2.”
“After Lexi's strong sectional performance, we knew that a top 40 finish was likely and a top 25 finish was possible,” continued Pilling. “She was out in perfect position in 50th place at the mile. Through the second mile she moved up to 34th. Like Ishan, her best racing was over the final mile. As other runners struggled, she continued to move up, passing 11 more runners to ultimately finish 23rd. Only about a dozen runners closed faster. Her savvy racing tactics and relentless competitiveness resulted in our finest cross country performance and a new school record.”
“We could not be more proud of both Ishan and Lexi. Their exceptional performances reflect the success of the entire 2018 team.”
The state tournament meet ended the season for the University School cross country team.