St. Croix Central taking one of its largest groups to state track meetThe seniors on the St. Croix Central track team have performed quite well this season.
By: Dave Newman, New Richmond News
The seniors on the St. Croix Central track team have performed quite well this season. Now several of them will get to perform at the WIAA State Track and Field Championships this Friday and Saturday at UW-La Crosse.
Senior boys Steve Brunshidle, D.J. Haas, Korey Jacobson and Lauden Wood and senior girls Jenna Ganther and Alyssa Melby will compete in individual events at the state meet. Central also advanced its boys 400 and 1600 meter relay teams to the state meet.
The Panthers advanced to state through last Thursday’s Division 2 sectional tournament at Medford. The weather made this meet extremely challenging for the athletes. The meet concluded just before midnight. The meet was delayed more than two hours because of the weather.
Central co-coach Amanda Webb said the coaches talked with the athletes about having the mental toughness to deal with the weather and wet conditions. She said the coaches were quite pleased with how the Panthers dealt with the conditions.
Once the meet started, the Panthers got good news right away, with Jacobson winning the 100 meter dash. He and Joe Koenecke of Cameron had identical 11.25 times, but Jacobson was awarded the title after a check of the finish line photos.
The Panthers had to deal with a heartbreak they’ve experienced each of the past two years in the girls 400 meter relay. For the third straight year, the Panthers finished fifth at the sectional. The team of Melby, Laura DeSmith, Jenna Buckel and Jenna Johnson missed qualifying for state by six-tenths of a second.
While the girls were still dealing with that pain, the Panther boys lifted the team’s spirits by advancing in the 400 relay. The team of Jacobson, Jag Johnson, Cody Nyhagen and Jason Matteson was seeded fifth, but they were the third place finisher in 45.58 seconds.
One of the most anticipated races of the sectional meet was the boys 800 meters, where a half-dozen state caliber runners were battling for the four state spots. Brunshidle was able to take third place, while accomplished area runners like Jake McLeod of Amery and Cole Hauenstein of Prescott weren’t able to advance.
The boys 1600 meter relay was also a stacked event, though Prescott wasn’t at full strength due to injuries to Hauenstein and sprinter Sam Smith. Central was seeded second in the relay and that’s just how they finished as the team of Brunshidle, Nyhagen, Carl Moll and Aaron Delander continued the string of years where Central advanced a distance relay to state.
The field events produced good results for the Panthers too. Wood made a big advance in his distance in the shot put at the regional meet and he continued that success at the sectional, taking third place with his throw of 50 feet, 3 inches.
The competition in the pole vault was extremely close. Two jumpers were able to clear 12-6. Haas was one of three jumpers to clear the bar at 12-3. Because he had fewer misses, Haas was able to advance to state.
There’s some poetic justice that Ganther and Melby both qualified for state in the girls triple jump. They’ve ended up competing against each other to get to state in the past. Melby made it as a sophomore and Ganther advanced last year. This year, they can complete their careers by competing together at state.
Several other Panthers didn’t qualify for state, but Webb said their performances bode well for future success. Sophomore Kayla Pabst placed fifth in the shot put and discus throw. Johnson, DeSmith and Matteson all showed they are close to being state qualifiers in jump events. Moll was just over a second away from qualifying in the 400 meters.
The success by the Panthers was reflected in the team scores in the sectional meet. Central’s boys place fourth among the 32 teams in the sectional and the Panther girls placed ninth in their half of the meet.