Kelsey Radobicky action

Freshman Kelsey Radobicky of Waterford has been selected the 2017 All-County Girls Cross Country Athlete of the Year. The voting was conducted by Racine County high school girls cross country coaches.

When Kelsey Radobicky decided to come out for the Waterford High School girls cross country team this season, she had rather modest expectations for herself.

And that was understandable. Radobicky was a freshman, and the Wolverines had a veteran-laden varsity crew.

“I didn’t think I would make varsity,’’ Radobicky said. “Seriously. My goal was to try to be in the upper JV area.’’

It would be an understatement of sorts to say Radobicky far exceeded her goals. Not only did Radobicky crack the varsity lineup, she emerged as the Wolverines’ No. 1 runner.

Even more impressively, Radobicky was the top runner in Racine County this season in the minds of Racine County girls cross country coaches. They overwhelmingly voted her the girls cross country Athlete of the Year.

The 5-foot-3, 110-pounder performed well throughout the season, but especially in the major meets. At the Southern Lakes Conference Championships, she raised a lot of eyebrows by finishing third.

Then, in the WIAA Division 1 Arrowhead Sectional, Radobicky finished fifth. That raised the eyebrows of Radobicky’s coach, Nate Schreiber.

“I think what impressed me the most about Kelsey this season was how she ran in the sectional meet,’’ said Schreiber, who was chosen by his peers as Girls Cross Country Coach of the Year. “In that sectional meet, she ran a fearless race. She went right out front with the veterans and she didn’t back down.

“She ran shoulder to shoulder the entire way. That takes a lot of guts; it was an incredible effort.’’

By placing fifth in the sectional meet, Radobicky advanced to the state championships at Wisconsin Rapids. That turned out to be a bittersweet moment.

While it validated Radobicky’s talent as a runner, she became seriously ill about 1½ miles into the race and had to be taken off the course on a cart.

Radobicky said she had extreme difficulty breathing.

“I was crying; I couldn’t help it,’’ Radobicky said. “I felt I had let my teammates down and I had let Schreiber and all my coaches down. I was really upset.

“Later that day, coming home from state, I just had to tell myself I had a bad race. It happens and next season I’m going to try harder and try again to get to state and finish what I started.’’

This was Schreiber’s 17th season as the Wolverines coach and it was one of the most rewarding.

The Wolverines were a consistently competitive team that showed noticeable improvement over a year ago. Schreiber’s team took second in the Wolverine Invitational, finishing behind Germantown, but ahead of talented Waukesha South and Nicolet.

The Wolverines also finished second to Lake Geneva Badger in the Southern Lakes Conference Championships.

“We were fourth in the conference meet in 2016, so being runner-up this season was a nice steppingstone,’’ Schreiber said. “It’s a nice set-up for next year.’’

But the meet that vividly indicated how far the Wolverines came this season was the WIAA Division 1 Arrowhead Sectional.

Said Schreiber: “Three years ago, we were last in that meet. Two years ago, we finished eighth and this year we were sixth.’’

Schreiber, who called the Coach of the Year award an “honor,’’ garnered the respect not only of his fellow coaches but also his runners.

“He’s very motivational,’’ Radobicky said. “He’ll push you hard, but only because he knows you can do better. He’s a very good coach.’’

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