Pabst's sixth-lace medal eases St. Croix Central's state track experience
When senior Kayla Pabst took the awards stand as one of the final activities of the 2014 WIAA State Track Championships, it put a positive finish on an otherwise underwhelming performance by the St. Croix Central track team.
Pabst earned a sixth place medal in the Division 2 discus event, one of the final events completed at the state meet, held at Veterans Stadium on the UW-La Crosse campus last Friday and Saturday.
Pabst was able to launch the discus 123 feet, 5 inches in her opening throw in the preliminaries. She had some tense moments holding onto sixth. Hanna Barton of McFarland had an attempt of 123-3 in the finals, but fell short of passing Pabst.
Getting the state medal fulfills a quest Pabst has been on since her freshman year. She qualified for sectionals in the shot put as a freshman and attended the state meet that year. That’s when she decided the state medal was her long-term goal.
“If she doesn’t tear her ACL (as a sophomore), she would have been on the podium last year,” said Central coach Ben Lamb.
Pabst is the first Central girl to earn a medal in a field event at state in more than a decade, according to Lamb.
Pabst also competed in the shot put at this year’s state meet. Pabst went into the event knowing that it would take a personal best effort by several feet to make the finals, so she used the event to prep herself for the discus throw.
“She used (the shot put) as a way to relax,” Lamb said.
Pabst was the only Panther to place at the state meet among the seven events that advanced. The best thing gained for the rest of the Panthers was experiencing the crowd and the athletes they will only see at state.
“Did we set the world on fire? No. On the flip side, we sent seven events and only three of those kids graduate,” Lamb said.
Junior Jason Matteson had some of the toughest luck of the athletes in the state meet, having both of his events interrupted by rain delays. The meet was delayed two hours by storms on Friday and more than four hours on Saturday. Matteson was competing in the triple jump on Friday when the interruption occurred. His best distance was 38 feet, 6.25 inches, well below his best jump.
In the high jump on Saturday, Matteson smoothly cleared the opening height of 6 feet on his first try, but the rain delay struck after he had made two of his attempts at 6-2. He tried his third attempt at the height immediately after the long delay, but was unsuccessful.
Lamb said the meet was an eye-opener for Matteson, showing him how little difference there is between him and the athletes who reached the state medals podium.
“He understands what he needs to do between now and next spring,” Lamb said.
Pabst wasn’t the only state returnee for the Panthers. Junior Josh Freyholtz was making his second state trip in the pole vault. Freyholtz was able to clear one more height than last year, this year clearing the bar at 13 feet before he bowed out. Lamb said Freyholtz was part of an extremely strong field of vaulters, with 11 of them clearing the 14-foot mark.
Freyholtz has aspirations of vaulting in college. The coaches are suggesting that he see a pole vault specialist to advance to the heights he aspires to.
Freshman Katheryn Holter competed in the 200 meter dash. She finished in 27.37 seconds, but wasn’t able to make the finals. She was also part of the Panthers’ 400 meter relay team, along with Brooke Kopacz, Hope Hoolihan and Bailey Booth. Unfortunately, they were one of seven teams that were disqualified throughout the course of the meet.
“The girls didn’t put blame on one another,” Lamb said. “They beat the school record at sectionals. They have nothing to hang their heads low about.”
Lamb said it was good to see a group of Panthers who weren’t competing attend the meet. He said the more Panther athletes who see how close they are to getting to the state level, the better for the team’s future.