‘Gamechanger’ Manny Putz leading Onalaska boys cross country to strong start

The Onalaska boys cross country team is turning heads with some dominant early performances.

In their first meet, the top four spots were all Hilltoppers, all near a 5:30 mile pace, and leading the way was freshman Manny Putz with a time of 17:05 in his first varsity race.

As a sixth grader he broke an AAU national record in the 1500 run by four seconds, so with Putz and the upperclassmen all within seconds of each other, the team feels it’s their time to shine.

“I didn’t know what to expect. I’d never run a 5k before,” Putz said. “Coach just had me hang back with the group, which was a smart play because I probably would’ve started way too strong and died way too far out.”

Senior Austin Oyen says Putz on the team is a “gamechanger.”

“Previously, I don’t know if we’ve had a team this good,” Oyen said.

The team plans to keep trying to run most of the distances as a group and then go for it by the final mile.

“When we have that accountability, that pressure, it makes us really want to work for it even more and start achieving dreams we never thought were possible a few years ago,” said senior Ron Walters.

Putz also just won Thursday’s latest meet in Rochester with a time of 16:28.92.