The distance between a good finish and a great finish for Homestead sophomore Drew Bosley at the WIAA state cross-country meet was about 1.1 miles long on Oct. 29 at the annual event held on The Ridges Golf Course in Wisconsin Rapids.

Bosley was sitting in about eighth or so at the 2-mile. He was a long way behind the top two runners, Finn Gessner of Madison La Follette and Tannor Wagner of Ashwaubenon.

But Bosley said "he felt good" at that point, so he just took off.

He didn't stop until he passed everyone but champion Gessner, turning in the fastest last 1.1 miles of the 5,000-meter race of anyone in the 180-plus runner field to earn a remarkable state runner-up finish in 15:39.

"I felt pretty much like I did last year," he said. "I know I have a pretty good last mile. I knew at that point I had to go out and pound a 'K' (a kilometer or 1,000 meters) and start catching people.

"With 800 to go, I saw Tannor, and I knew I had a chance at getting him, and I did. It was just a special last mile. Realistically, I thought top four was the best I could do, and if things worked out, third, but to get second is just very special."

Finish in fifth

Even more special was the fact he led the Highlanders to a fifth-place team finish, far higher than even his dad, Homestead coach Andy Bosley, thought was possible.

He was very proud of his son, who made a big splash at the meet as a freshman a year ago when he took seventh.

"Drew ran a smart, patient race and closed with the fastest last mile in the field," said Andy Bosley. The last 1K of this course is very tough, so you need to be racing guys, not holding on, to have success."

'Killer' instinct

In short, Drew displayed that "killer" instinct that his dad is always talking about.

Andy, who came close but could never quite earn that state cross-country title himself when he was carving out a Hall of Fame career as a runner at Homestead in the late 1980s and early 1990s, makes sure Drew is his own man and is not chasing his father's dreams.

"He's instilled everything in me, including smart racing strategy," Drew said, "but he doesn't tell me what to do. All he says to us is that 'we have to be killers out there.' You have to be smart, be a killer and finish hard."

The rest of his team, especially senior Thomas Miller, who finished up his career with a spectacular 15th-place effort, did just that.

They helped the Highlanders turn in a 222-point effort, good for fifth in the 20-team field, as Madison West edged Arrowhead, 130-137, for the title. Andy Bosley went into the meet thinking any improvement over the ninth finish of a year ago would be a success.

But his runners wanted to do better than that.

Miller hit the finish line in 16:13 and was the 10th team runner to finish the race. Drew Bosley was the first team runner.

Other scoring runners included Noah Cummisford in 66th (104th overall) in 17:15, Cooper Hunt in 72nd (112th) in 17:20 and Messi Elgin in 73rd (113th) in 17:21. Also running were Jack Pfeifer in 93rd (135th) in 17:35 and Kai Newman in 107th (153) in 17:50.

Coach Bosley said the team executed well.

"Thomas, Noah, Cooper, Messi and Jack did the exact same thing," he said. "Our team was 15th at the mile, outside the top 10 at the 2 mile, but finished fifth. I am especially happy with how Thomas ran. He is so tough, so determined, and he finished his high school cross-country career with a great finish.

"Cooper Hunt ran great as well. He has been injured all of October and does no running during the week, just warms up and races. He has gotten better each week"

Drew Bosley said his dad did a great job getting the third through fifth runners ready for the meet, knowing they were likely to put a lot of pressure on themselves.

And when the reader board came up with the team results, the Highlanders were stunned at how well they had finished.

"We all went crazy," Drew said.

But he's not going to go crazy personally and get full of himself now that he's a full-blown player on the state running scene. He said he doesn't see himself as an underclassmen but just a peer in an elite group of runners.

"I know I have gifts that God and my parents have given me," he said, "so I have to use them wisely. I've made some goals for myself (for the spring track season). I want to post fast times, and maybe on my best day (at state), I can come out with a win."

In short, being the "killer" his father thinks he can be.