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Somerset's Robbie Lang (center) is again one of the top sprinters in western Wisconsin.
Somerset's Robbie Lang (center) is again one of the top sprinters in western Wisconsin.

Somerset track teams are a factor at Border Battle

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sports New Richmond, 54017
New Richmond Wisconsin 127 South Knowles Avenue 54017

The Somerset track teams were back indoors on Friday, but at least they got the chance to compete.

The Border Battle, featuring four Wisconsin and four Minnesota schools from both sides of the border, turned out to be a heavily competitive track meet. And both Somerset teams made an impact in the meet.

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The Spartan boys took pride in defeating all four Minnesota schools in the meet. The Spartans finished in third place, behind powerful Division 1 teams from Hudson and River Falls.

Somerset's girls took sixth place among the eight schools and had several top finishes.

Somerset's boys wasted little time letting the other schools know they'd be a threat to win the team title. Somerset's boys swept the top three places in the 55-meter hurdles. Senior Luke Praschak took the top spot in the race, with senior Shane Miller and sophomore Max Praschak close behind. Those 24 points were more than Hill-Murray's boys scored in the entire meet.

Somerset coach Mike Holmquist said the hurdlers and hurdle coach Bill Jahner have shoveled snow off the Spartan track nearly every day so they could maintain their workout schedule.

The Spartans also received a winning effort from senior Tyler Ledbeter. He leapt to a personal best distance of 42 feet, 11.5 inches in winning the triple jump. He also earned third place in the high jump.

Junior Aaron Joppru finished fourth in the triple jump and he matched that finish by clearing the bar at 12 feet, 6 inches in the pole vault.

The sprints are another area where the Spartans have depth. Senior Robbie Lang took second place in the 55-dash and third in the 200 meters. Classmate Mitch McConaughey also placed in both, running fourth in the 200 and sixth in the 55. The depth in the sprints also carried to the relays, where the Spartans ran third in the 800 relay and fifth in the 1,600 relay.

The Spartans were also able to take two places in the long jump, with Dallas Johnson placing fourth and Luke Praschak fifth.

Holmquist said the Spartans needed this meet for several reasons, including getting tested by the top level competition.

"The Border Battle came at a perfect time because it broke up the monotony," Holmquist said. "To know we can compete at that level is pretty special."

Hudson won the boys meet with 125 points. River Falls was the runner-up with 108 points and Somerset was right behind the Wildcats with 103 points.

Somerset girls coach Dave Praschak echoed the sentiments of the meet breaking up the routine of practice after practice. He said the girls are anxious to get outdoors so they can compete in the longer events that aren't possible in indoor meets.

Seniors Sarah Krig and Natalie Broome again did the majority of the point gathering for the Spartan girls. Krig scored the Spartans' only victory, winning the high jump by clearing the bar at five feet. Krig also showed she's recovered from a recent injury by finishing second in the 55-meter hurdles and third in the triple jump.

Broome was locked in another battle in the 55-meter dash with Osceola's Aimee Rice-Strand, finishing inches behind the Chieftain speedster at the finish line. The Spartan coaches had Broome try the 400 meters. Broome showed she can handle that distance, placing second. Spartan sophomore Susan Schmitt also ran well, placing fourth.

Getting busy

While the Spartans didn't have any meets scheduled this week, they have a whopping four meets lined up for next week. The week begins with a triangular meet at New Richmond next Monday. The following afternoon they compete at St. Croix Central. On Thursday, May 2, they will take part in the Amery Invitational, with the New Richmond Relays scheduled for the next day.

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