New Richmond girls track team wins Northern Badger titleThe local track season started with meets Thursday and Saturday and the New Richmond and Somerset teams quickly showed they have plenty of promise.
By: Dave Newman, New Richmond News
The local track season started with meets Thursday and Saturday and the New Richmond and Somerset teams quickly showed they have plenty of promise.
The New Richmond girls already have a prized victory in their possession. The Tigers topped 10 other teams to win the large school division of the Northern Badger Invitational at UW-Stout on Saturday.
Here are rundowns on each of the local teams for their first week of competition.
Tiger coach Judy Weiss did not put together a lineup aiming to win Saturday’s meet. She never gave winning the meet a thought until well into the meet, when other coaches pointed out that the Tigers were leading. The Tigers managed to edge out La Crosse Central for the title, winning by one point.
There were numerous bright spots for the girls team in Saturday’s victory. Senior Kat Keller was the champion in the 55-meter dash, breaking her own school record with an incredible time of 7.17 seconds. That is the best 55-meter time posted in the state during the first week of the season.
Keller was also part of the Tigers’ winning 1,600 meter relay team, joining Morgan Kelly, Maddie Kelly and Emily Bischof in posting a 4:21.65 time. The Kelly sisters also performed well in open events, with Maddie placing second in the 800 and Morgan fourth in the 1,600. Keller and Bischof finished second and third in the 400 meters.
The third Tiger victory of the day was earned by sophomore Emily Kukacka in the high jump. Kukacka cleared the bar at 4-10 to get the win.
Weiss said there were a number of other Tigers who performed quite well on Saturday, including Anna McShane in the hurdles and triple jump, Ellen Meisner in the distance races and Lindsay Watkins in the shot put.
The season began last Thursday in a six-team meet at UW-River Falls. The coaches used this meet to give younger athletes a chance to get accustomed to competing in a high school meet. Weiss said there were numerous younger team members who showed bright promise in this meet, including Mikayla Wickham, Serena Shilts, Emma Ongstad, Hannah Swetlik and Kennedy Kling.
The Tiger boys are facing a bit of a rebuilding process after graduating a senior class that scored a ton of points in last year’s Middle Border Conference meet. Seniors Tyler Cran, Eli Kelley and Colton Simpson are viewed as the top returnees for the Tigers, though Cran and Simpson are dealing with minor injuries as the season gets rolling.
The Tiger boys finished ninth among the 11 teams competing at UW-Stout on Saturday. Kelley notched the Tigers’ top finish, placing second in the 400 meters. Simpson took third in the pole vault. He was the winner in the vault in the season-opener at UW-River Falls last Thursday, when he cleared 13 feet.
Tiger coach Roger Reuvers said one of the bright spots in Saturday’s meet was the performance of junior Gabe Harvieux. Harvieux placed in the high jump and triple jump.
“I think he’ll help us a lot this year,” Reuvers said.
Reuvers said Harvieux leads a junior class that should make a much larger contribution this season, including Joey Miller, Alex Charbonneau, Travis Germain, Joe Deppe and Aaron Daul in the group that will be expected to step up.
Reuvers said he is excited with the group of freshmen athletes that have come out for the team.
After several years where the Tigers were favorites in many of the meets they competed in, injuries and inexperience have brought the Tigers back to the pack at the start of this season.
“We have a lot of works in progress,” Reuvers said about the start of this season.
One of the largest track rosters in the area belongs to the Spartan boys, who have 68 athletes competing at the start of the season. The Spartans were able to place seventh in the large school division at UW-Stout on Saturday.
Second-year Spartan coach Mike Holmquist said there is a different atmosphere around the team this season. He said the returning athletes came into the season with specific goals they want to accomplish and a far more determined attitude to achieve those goals.
“The level of investment seems a lot higher,” Holmquist said.
Distance runners Tyler Kampsula and Jake Wishard set the tone for the Spartans on Saturday. Kampsula ran the best 800 time of his career to finish in second place. Wishard ran right with many of the top distance runners in the area, taking third in the 3,200 meters.
Holmquist said junior Robbie Lang has completely devoted himself to track and the results showed, with Lang placing fourth in the 200 meters.
Junior Luke Praschak had an impressive start to the season in the hurdles. He was the winner in the 55-meter hurdles in Thursday’s meet at UW-River Falls. He followed that up with a second place finish at Stout on Saturday.
Another highlight from Thursday’s meet was junior Tyler Ledbeter in the triple jump. Ledbeter cleared the 40-foot mark for the first time in his career, jumping 40-9 to win the event.
The Spartan girls placed seventh among the 11 teams at UW-Stout on Saturday, with a handful of individuals piling up most of the team’s points.
Junior Natalie Broome blew away the competition in winning the 200 meters at Stout. She won in 27.56 seconds, beating her nearest competitor by a half-second.
Junior Sarah Krig looks ready to make another big splash in the field events. She placed in the top four in three different events. She tied for first place in the high jump, took second place in the pole vault and fourth place in the triple jump.
The Spartans are a mix of old and new athletes. Of the 30 girls on the roster, 16 are in their first season on the team.
One of the veteran athletes who can’t compete currently is senior Lizzy Vanasse. She is recuperating from hip surgery. Spartan coach Dave Praschak said he hoped Vanasse would be able to begin competing by late April.
The New Richmond and Somerset teams will be back in action this weekend at the All-American Invite at UW-River Falls. The junior varsity portion of the meet will be run on Friday, with the varsity meet taking place on Saturday.