WISCONSIN RAPIDS — It was time for Olin Hacker’s moment, his chance to run toward a place in the history books.
And when Hacker’s time in the spotlight came and went on Saturday, it turned out he didn’t even need a full 15 minutes of fame.
The Madison West senior firmly cemented his legacy as one of the state’s premier distance runners by racing to his second straight individual state cross country championship.
His official time? An astonishing 14 minutes, 59.10 seconds.
But that wasn’t the only bit of good news Hacker and West brought to bear. West claimed its second team championship, and after the race, Hacker confirmed he had made an oral commitment to run at the University of Wisconsin next season.
“No regrets” was West’s season-long mantra, and Hacker personified that as he zipped through The Ridges Golf Course, beating two-time individual runner-up Ryan Nameth of Verona by 36 seconds.
“I wanted to come out here and show people what I could do and show people what our team could do, and I think we did that,” Hacker said.
Not even an hour’s delay of the day’s first race – the Division 3 boys competition – fazed Hacker, who broke away from the pack at the mile mark.
“The delay, it doesn’t matter. It is what it is, everybody has to deal with it. It doesn’t make a difference,” Hacker said. “I felt great today. I’ve been preparing for this weekend for awhile. It all worked out.”
The Regents finished with 77 points, outdistancing runner-up Stevens Point (157). Hartland Arrowhead was third (178), just a point ahead of Madison La Follette (179), which was led by the fifth-place finish of sophomore Finn Gessner.
Middleton took sixth with 213 points and Janesville Craig (289) was 11th.
“It does say something for how strong the conference is, Craig was eighth in the conference and 11th in the state. Think about that one,” West coach Tom Kaufman said.
Seniors Will Olson, Kyle Kolar, Caleb Wilson and Henry Schmit rounded out the team scoring for West, which used a second-place finish in the City Meet last month as motivation for its run to the state title.
“We talked about leaving here feeling like you had no regrets with what happened,” Kaufman said. “Just do the best you can and that’s what you do.
“All of the boys ran to the best of their abilities. Henry Schmit was our fifth runner today, and if you had told Henry or anybody else a year ago that he was going to be our fifth scorer on a team that was going to win a state championship, I’m not sure Henry would have believed you. That was great.”
Nameth, a senior, finished in 15:36, competing as an individual qualifier. Gessner finished in 15:53. Craig sophomore Nate Farrell came in eighth.
Nameth took an early lead before Hacker made his move just after the mile marker.
“I got a little bit of an advantage coming down a hill and from there I just hammered and I slowly got a gap,” Hacker said. “It’s been an incredible rivalry that we’ve had. We’ve pushed each other so much. We’ve run so much faster with each other. It’s just a great thing.”
It was a familiar sight for Nameth, who also is considering competing at Wisconsin (along with Marquette and Loyola of Chicago).
“He just pulled away,” Nameth said. “There’s a lot of little things I wish I could change. I’m just disappointed to finish second.”
Nameth, said he still enjoys his “intense but fun” rivalry with Hacker.
“It’s nice to have a really, really strong runner to run against. It’s almost a pleasure because he’s incredible and I love running against him,” Nameth said. “I want a state championship and that’s been my big goal. It’s disappointing not to see that.
“But at the same time, he made me better. It’s only opened doors for me and him. So it’s a double-edged sword. But I have nothing to complain about. I’m in a great place.”
Hacker added to his family legacy joining his father, Tim, and uncle, Jeff Hacker, as two-time individual champions. His uncle, Bill Hacker, also won an individual title.
Kaufman broke into a grin when asked about the impact Olin Hacker has made on his program.
“Oh my God, oh my word, what a tour de force, holy moley,” Kaufman said. “What a privilege it has been to have somebody like Olin on your team. We just count our blessings every day. He’s unbelievable. He’s in a whole another place, and that’s pretty cool.”