Tiger teams look strong in opening meet
By finishing in the upper half of the boys and girls divisions of the Northern Badger Invitational Indoor Track Meet on Saturday, you can tag the New Richmond track teams as ready to roll for the 2009 season.
The Tigers finished sixth among 17 teams in both halves of the large school portion of the meet.
The Tiger boys are coming off a 2008 season where they won the Middle Border Conference championship. The Tiger girls placed third at last year's MBC meet.
New Richmond's boys return a strong group of veteran athletes. They'll be pushed by a group of young athletes who showed on Saturday that they are ready to compete for varsity positions.
"They're hungry, they're eager," boys varsity coach Roger Reuvers said. "They're not like typical freshmen. They want to step in and do things now."
The Tiger boys were champions in two individual events on Saturday. Senior Nate Suo and sophomore Patrick Hailey showed that the hurdle events will be a strength for the Tigers this season. Suo won the championship in the 55 hurdles, with Hailey taking fifth place.
The effort by the Tigers' young guns was led by freshman Tyler Cran, who was the champion in the 400-meter dash. Two freshmen and two sophomores (Cran, Tyler Durand, Hailey and Tyler Wilson) combined for a sixth place finish in the 1,600 meter relay.
Reuvers said the young Tigers looked sharp in running events, but the team needs them to find field events they can contribute in, too.
Among the veterans, Reuvers had special words for senior Steve McCarthy, who placed seventh in the triple jump.
"That was good to see. Steve's one of the hardest workers we've got," Reuvers said.
Tiger girls coach Judy Weiss said the sprints and the distance events are the team's strongest areas at the start of the season. Senior McKenzie Kelly, who ran while ill for most of her junior season, is back stronger than ever.
"She ran better than in any of her races last year," Weiss said. "She was aggressive, just determined."
Kelly took second in the 1600, ran an outstanding leg in the 1600 relay and had a personal best in the triple jump.
High jump was one of the best field events for the Tigers on Saturday. Junior Molly Holland cleared 4-10, senior Hayley Peterson 4-8 and freshman Amy Kukacka 4-6.
Freshman Kat Keller broke a number of long-standing records in eighth grade and she showed the potential to do the same thing at the varsity level. Keller took third place in the 200 meters and third place in the 55 meters. The Tigers were hit hard by graduation in the sprint events, so Keller's emergence couldn't come at a better time.
The Tigers will continue their indoor schedule this weekend. The UW-River Falls All-American Meet is scheduled for Friday and Saturday. The JV portion of the meet will be run on Friday with the varsity meet set for Saturday.