Riverside-Brookfield High School junior Gianna Gelb goes after her third straight individual girls cross country state berth – this time in Class 3A – with a more experienced perspective.
The past two years, Gelb learned to emerge as a frontrunner from graduated four-time state competitor Bryce Pacourek (St. Thomas).
Coming off a strong offseason at the University of Wisconsin-Madison running camp, Gelb hopes to encourage teammates to run with her the same way.
“I just feel like I’ve kind of grown a little bit and matured as a runner, especially because I’ve really been working towards mileage,” Gelb said.
“It’s more about how can I train and work hard and push myself because usually Bryce would push me. I feel like last year was more just running and doing what [RBHS coach Blair Jensen] told me. Now I feel like I’m kind of becoming more independent.”
At the 2022 IHSA Class 2A state meet, Gelb was 35th (19:15.29), slightly ahead Pacourek (40th, 19:17.48), and she improved significantly from 151st in her 2021 state debut. Gelb also was an all-sectional 10th, all-regional second and an All-MSC Blue fourth.
Senior Lily Kocourek was the Bulldogs’ No. 3 finisher in those races. Seniors Maria Dalton and Maia Nelson were between the No. 4 to 6 spots.
Junior Jorie Eggers and sophomores Rebecca Dosek and Abby Ford also are varsity returnees. Key varsity newcomers include freshman Ruby Boyle and junior Alex Dominguez.
Besides having about 10 more runners than in 2022, the Bulldogs also have a new assistant coach in Lilly Holubek, a 2016 RBHS graduate who was a tennis and track athlete.
“[Holubek] has really made great connections with the girls over the summer,” Jensen said. “Every returning runner certainly is shooting to improve. Along with the hard-working girls returning, we have a lot of new faces, so we may have some surprises in store.”