New Richmond track team soaks up the sun in La Crosse
With the sun shining and no snow in sight, the New Richmond track teams thoroughly enjoyed competing in the Knights of Columbus Relays at the UW-La Crosse track facility on Saturday.
This was the first opportunity for the Tigers to compete outdoors this season because of the prolonged wintry weather. The Tigers had held full outdoor practices just twice leading into the meet. The Tigers were so unaccustomed to be outdoors that several of the athletes picked up sunburns during the meet.
The Tigers tried to improvise to get ready for the outdoor meet. They taped off a makeshift exchange zone from corner to corner across the New Richmond High School gym so they could get some experience making relay handoffs.
The Tiger were competing against the La Crosse schools, Winona, Holmen and Onalaska in the large school division of the meet.
For the Tiger boys, the most encouraging results came in the mid-distances. Cole Olson took third in the 400 meter and Joe Deppe and Travis Germain were able to place in the 200. Boys coach Roger Reuvers said the mid-distance runners are becoming a strength for the team, which also gives him plenty of options in constructing relay teams.
He listed Olson, Germain, Deppe, Cole Nord, Allan Wollenberg, Connor O'Loughlin, Dominic Ficociello and Joey Miller as quality options for the Tigers in the middle distances. Germain, Miller, Ficociello and Deppe teamed up to place second in the 800 relay in Saturday's meet.
The distance runners also put in a strong meet. The La Crosse schools have a tradition of producing elite distance runners so this meet provided tough opposition. Reuvers said having Alex Charbonneau, Bailey Wilson and Jack Utzman all finish at 4:54 or lower in the 1,600 meters shows the depth the Tigers have in the distance races.
There were some positive signs from the field events too. The Tigers took second and third in the high jump, with Gabe Harvieux and Zach Schoepke providing those finishes. Ben Peterson was able to place sixth in the shot put.
For the Tiger girls, this meet gave the older athletes a chance to push themselves against good competition. For the new athletes, it was the opening opportunity to establish themselves in the team's plans.
A number of veteran Tigers were able to place against the strong competition in the meet. Junior Emily Kukacka placed second in the high jump. Kukacka and Lyndsay Watkins achieved a rarity for the team, giving the Tigers two placewinners in the discus throw.
Maddie Kelly was able to break through a significant barrier in the 800 meters, finishing in under 2:30. She also ran a ferocious leg of the 3,200 relay to bring the Tigers back to a fourth place finish.
The jumps are looking to be a strength again for the girls. Erica Bohmke placed third in the long jump and junior Abby Blader had her best distance in the triple jump since her freshman season to place sixth. Senior Rose Smith earned third place in the pole vault.
In the hurdles, Serena Shilts and Emma Ongstad both ran a personal best time, Shilts in the 100 hurdles and Ongstad in the 300s. Senior Anne Frank also tried the 300 hurdles for the first time and showed potential.
Weiss said she liked the competitiveness she saw from the younger runners on the track. Sprinters Taylor Klemmensen, Mariah Simon and Serena Randolph made a strong first impression, as did distance runners Jessica Gillis and Andrea Meisner.
The lack of opportunity to train outdoors means the Tigers will have to get some of their experience while competing in meets, according to Weiss.
"The kids haven't been able to train the same (as in other years). It's been hard to get good work in," she said.
The Tigers are hoping the wintry weather is over and they can get back to a normal schedule. The Tigers are scheduled to compete in the Rice Lake Invitational Friday. The Tigers will compete at home next Monday in a triangular meet against Somerset and Osceola. This is a makeup of the quad meet that Tigers had scheduled for April 23.