Distance events leading way for New Richmond track team
Don't let the 14th place finish by the New Richmond boys track team cloud the Tigers' performance in the All-American Invitational at the UW-River Falls indoor track facility on Saturday.
The Tiger boys were able to score points in five events and a number of younger Tigers showed significant progress in the meet.
The distance events are rapidly becoming a main source of points for the Tiger boys and the distance runners are led by senior Alex Charbonneau. Charbonneau took second place in the 800 meters Saturday with a time of 2:05.11. He also ran the anchor leg in the Tiger 3,200 meter relay team that placed third and he ran a 56-second split in the Tiger 1,600 relay team which placed seventh.
The Tigers were able to place in three of the relay events on Saturday. They also earned a sixth place finish in the 800 meters.
There is considerable depth lining up for the Tigers in the distance races. Freshman Bailey Wilson placed in the 1,600 meters, which was one of the marquee races of the day. Three leading runners stayed side-by-side through nearly the entire race, with River Falls junior Trent Powell winning in an incredible indoor time of 4:22.25.
Wilson took eighth place in the meet, improving his time by 12 seconds to finish in 4:53.74. Sophomore Jack Utzman wasn't far behind Wilson, placing 13th in 5:01.
The Tigers' depth in the distance races is so strong, there are opportunities for some of the distance runners to move to other events. One of those making a move was sophomore Zach Schoepke, who has decided to focus on the high jump. Schoepke improved his height by four inches, clearing 5 feet, 8 inches, to tie for ninth place on Saturday.
Because the competition in the meet was mainly larger Minnesota schools, the Tiger coaches prepared their athletes by telling them to focus on improvement in their times and distances, not in where they placed. Boys coach Roger Reuvers said he was quite pleased with his team's performance, which included 15 different athletes logging personal best marks in the meet.
Reuvers used juniors Cole Olson and Luke Miller as examples. Olson continues to make rapid progress in the 400 meters. Miller improved his time in the 800, with the coaches being thrilled with Millers' willingness to step out of his comfort zone and race with more determination.
New Richmond's girls team was in over its head a bit on Saturday, scoring just one point. That point was earned by sophomore Peyton Olien, who placed eighth in the 400 meter dash at the All-American.
Girls coach Judy Weiss said that her team fared much better when they were viewed solely against Wisconsin opponents. She used the 55 meter hurdles as an example. New Richmond sophomore Sarena Shilts placed 12th in the event, but she was the highest-ranking runner from any of the Wisconsin schools. Tiger sophomore Emma Ongstad ranked third among the Wisconsin hurdlers.
Weiss said this meet was an excellent example of why athletes can't be satisfied with being the best in their event from their school, because there are always better athletes out there to challenge them.
The Tigers won't be competing at all this week. It was announced Monday night that their annual opening outdoor meet at UW-Stout this Thursday has been cancelled due to wet conditions. It now appears that the Tigers will begin their outdoor schedule next Tuesday at the Husky Invite at Eau Claire North.