from today's Waukesha Freeman -
WAUKESHA SOUTH CROSS COUNTRY FESTIVAL
Novak adapting to cross country
Senior in first full season of sport
WAUKESHA — Joe Novak’s first season with the Catholic Memorial High School boys cross country team continues to get better That should also mean a likely improvement during the track and field season.
The senior gave up soccer to run cross country this year with hopes of becoming a better runner in the spring.
“He’s a miler and a 800meter runner,” Memorial first-year coach Bill Affeldt said. “This will definitely help with the mile. The more miles he has on, the easier the workouts get. Same with the 800. He can start the season with a faster tempo.”
But first things first.
Novak helped Memorial finish third in the 15-team Waukesha South Festival at Minooka Park on Saturday.
He finished in a season best 16 minutes, 58 seconds for a 10th-place showing.
He then caught a flight a few hours later to take a recruiting trip to Duke University for track.
“We’ve been very patient,” Affeldt said. “We tried to get him used to how races go, how to set up different parts of a race and go from there.”
Novak was on the soccer team last year, but when that season ended he made his cross country debut at the WIAA Division 2 state meet.
“It was fun,” Novak said of running at state. “That was a big reason why I decided to run cross country. I love the team and all the guys. I’m really close with the coaches, so all those things convinced me to run cross country instead of playing soccer this year.”
Novak finished fourth in a season-opening meet hosted by Watertown, placed third the following race hosted by Waukesha South and won the Metro Reunion outing last weekend in 17:33.
And Novak, who will also visit Michigan, Notre Dame and Penn, is still learning how to run cross country after he finished third in the 1,600 and fourth in the 800 at last year’s Division 2 state track and field meet.
“A 5K is a whole different beast,” Novak said. “The 800 or 1,600 you can kind of break into chunks, and it’s on a track. You can set your splits. But a 5K is different for every course. It’s really different than any event on the track that I can compare it to. It’s just a learning process, but my teammates help me out a lot.
“I think my coach is the best coach in the world. He’s had a plan for me since the end of track season last year. I’ve just been trying to get the miles in, and he’s been really helping me along even though I’m inexperienced.”
CMH senior Evan Wetzel took 23rd in 17:49, junior Jack Zwisler 25th in 17:54, junior Andrew Hirsch 29th in 17:59 (a personal best) and senior Brad Bodus 55th in 19:03.
Although this is Affeldt’s first season, he is not inexperienced. Affeldt, who became Memorial’s second boys cross country coach, was legendary coach John Gabelbauer’s assistant since 1994.
“The kids are used to me,” he said. “We’ve been together for the four years with the seniors. It’s not like I’m totally a rookie at it.”
The Waukesha South girls finished eighth out of 13 teams, and did so without its top runner. Krista Pierstroff hurt her knee and was unable to finish the race.
Freshman Grace Dargiewicz led the Blackshirts by taking eighth in 21:16.
“She’s gaining more and more confidence each week,” South coach Eric Lehmann said of Dargiewicz. “She’s going to be really competitive by the end of the year. As a freshman to do well in a big meet, it’s only going to help her confidence.”
South freshman Elise Boudry finished 27th (22:43), senior Alyssa Wegner 35th (23:01), senior Linda Ortiz 50th (23:58) and Louise Davenport 54th (24:03).