All-American Invite provides major test for New Richmond, Somerset track teamsThe annual All-American Invite Track Meet at UW-River Falls is an early season showcase for some of the best track talent in the Twin Cities area and western Wisconsin.
By: Dave Newman, New Richmond News
The annual All-American Invite Track Meet at UW-River Falls is an early season showcase for some of the best track talent in the Twin Cities area and western Wisconsin. The 2012 All-American meet on Saturday certainly upheld the strong tradition of the meet.
New Richmond’s girls had the strongest showing among the local squads at the 2012 All-American, taking fifth place among 15 teams. Somerset’s boys took seventh place. The New Richmond boys placed 13th and the Somerset girls took 14th place.
New Richmond’s girls were able to win three meet championships, the only titles won by the local teams.
New Richmond senior Kat Keller put on another incredible show in winning two events, setting meet records in both. Keller broke the meet record she set in 2010 by winning the 55 meter dash in 7.24 seconds. Keller came back and broke another of her records in the 200 meters. She won the 200 meters in 26.04 seconds, breaking the record of 26.23 she’d set two years ago.
Keller didn’t have any room for error in either race. Osceola sophomore Aimee Rice-Strand was right on her heels in both races.
New Richmond coach Judy Weiss said both runners should benefit from these meetings, as they work toward their goal of success at the state level in June.
Fans at the meet recognized Keller’s rare skills. In both of her races, activity all around the track stopped, so fans and athletes could see Keller compete. As the gun sounded, the cheering began, reaching a crescendo as Keller reached the finish line.
New Richmond’s 3,200 meter relay team also earned a meet championship. The team of Morgan Kelly, Maddie Kelly, Emily Bischof and Hannah Swetlik set a school record the previous Saturday at UW-Stout and they were focused on breaking that record again. They demolished their week-old record. Their time of 10:06.06 was 15 seconds better than the time they ran at Stout.
Weiss said the team’s seniors stood out in this meet, with their leadership and their performance. Other seniors who set personal bests on Saturday were Amy Kukacka in the high jump, Carley Brotzler in the 200 meters and Bailey Matthys in the 3200.
“All our four-year track kids are leading this team in practice and in competition,” Weiss said.
For the New Richmond boys, this meet was a step in the process as they build toward their season-end goals. The Tigers were led by a pair of second place finishes from seniors Eli Kelley and Colton Simpson. Kelley ran a 52.41 time to take second place in the 400 meters. Simpson finished second in the pole vault, clearing 12 feet, 6 inches.
Tiger boys coach Roger Reuvers said he is looking for improvement at this stage of the season and he saw it in a number of areas. Alex Charbonneau cut nine seconds from his 1,600 meter time and Joey Miller improved by a foot in the long jump.
Reuvers is looking for younger members of the team to begin showing that they can score points in large meets by the end of the season. He said between Saturday’s meet and Friday’s All-American JV meet, he saw several examples of young athletes who could make that step. He pointed to Brendan Maki in the pole vault, Allan Wollenberg and Jake Singerhouse in the long jump and five young shot putters who are all making steady advances.
In comparison to last season, the Somerset boys were one of the most improved teams at the All-American Invite. Last year the Spartans scored seven points. They upped that total to 34 points this season. The Spartans earned points in nine of the 15 events on Saturday.
Junior Robbie Lang continues to impress in the sprints, taking second place in the 55 meters in 6.75 seconds.
“That’s a big deal. There were some big schools there,” said Somerset boys coach Mike Holmquist.
Somerset was able to place in all three relay events. This was a major surprise, because the Spartans had to use alternates in several relay slots. The 1,600 relay team of Lang, Dalton Johnston, Luke Praschak and Tyler Kampsula took third place. Holmquist said Johnston’s 55-second split had to rank as one of the biggest surprises of the meet.
The team of Kampsula, Jake Wishard, Andrew Thurmes and Josh Verdeja took fourth in the 3,200 relay. Wishard also performed well in the open 3,200 meters, taking fourth place.
The hurdles look like they’ll be another strength for the Spartans. Juniors Luke Praschak and Shane Miller took fifth and seventh place in the 55-meter hurdles on Saturday.
Somerset’s girls are looking to build for the end of the season as they work younger girls into the varsity lineup. Coach Dave Praschak was pleased that Kat Ryther stepped up to run in the 3,200 relay, giving the Spartans a competitive team in that event. Praschak said the Spartans were able to put together a competitive 800 relay, with veteran runners Lauren Rathai, Siera Meyer and Natalie Broome joined by newcomer Sadie Gilbertson.
The Spartans’ top individual performances came from Broome, Sarah Krig and Sarah Northey. Broome took fifth in a star-studded 55-meter dash. Northey was the fifth place finisher in the 55 hurdles. Krig continued her productivity in the field events, placing fourth in the pole vault and the high jump.
The Spartans will compete in their first outdoor meet this Thursday at St. Croix Central. New Richmond is on spring break. The Tigers will begin their outdoor season on Thursday, April 12, at Menomonie.