Somerset's season of track success continues at sectional meetThe season-long success of the Somerset track teams carried through the WIAA Medford Division 2 Sectional Meet.
By: Dave Newman, New Richmond News
The season-long success of the Somerset track teams carried through the WIAA Medford Division 2 Sectional Meet.
Both Spartan teams will be well represented at the 2012 WIAA State Track Meet in La Crosse this Friday and Saturday.
The Somerset boys are sending three individual and three relay events and the Spartan girls will be taking seven individual events and one relay team to this year’s state meet.
The success of the Spartan teams was reflected in the final scoring totals from Medford. Out of the 32 teams in the sectional meet, both Somerset teams took second place in the team scoring for their half of the sectional meet.
Somerset’s boys set their tournament schedule to give themselves the best possibilities of reaching the state awards podium. With four first place finishes at the sectional meet, the Spartans have set themselves up to fulfill that goal. Individual sectional championships were won by junior Alex Praschak in the 110 hurdles and junior Robbie Lang in the 200 hurdles. The Spartans were also champions in the 400 and 800 meter relays. Advancing as fourth place finishers in the sectional meet were Luke Peters in the shot put and the 1600 meter relay team.
Junior Sarah Krig leads the Somerset girls to state. Krig qualified in three field events: the triple jump, pole vault and high jump. She was the sectional champion in the triple jump while placing third in her other events.
Junior Natalie Broome is also advancing in multiple events. She took third place in the 100 and 200 meter dashes and she is part of the 400 meter relay team that advanced to state. Senior Sarah Henry also advanced to state in the 100 meters and she is also a member of the 400 relay.
Junior Sarah Northey advanced to state by placing third in the 100 meter hurdles.
Somerset’s bus didn’t return home until after 3 a.m. because of the weather delays at the meet in Medford. Spartan boys coach Mike Holmquist said the athletes kept their mental focus despite the rain delay of more than two hours.
The Spartans got good and bad news right away when the meet resumed. The good news was Praschak winning the 110 high hurdles. The bad news was junior hurdler Shane Miller suffered a hip injury while going over the fifth hurdle in the race. Miller had finished second in the prelims behind Praschak, but the injury knocked him back to sixth place in the finals. It also knocked him out of the lineup for the Spartans’ 1600 meter relay.
The 400 and 800 relays looked sharp in winning their events. The lineup of Lang, Robbie Flom, Mitch McConaughey and Alex Baillargeon won both races. Holmquist said getting Baillargeon back to full health and getting more time to work on handoffs was the difference. In the 800 the Spartans faced a huge challenge from Nekoosa. The Spartans won in 1:33.13, which was four-hundredths of a second in front of Nekoosa.
The Spartans were heavily favored to win the 400 relay and they followed through on expectations. Their time of 44.99 was more than a half-second better than second place Northwestern.
Lang received a major challenge from Osceola’s Jon Bantz in the 200 meter finals, but he was up to the test. Lang won the event in 22.77 seconds, two-hundredths of a second ahead of Bantz. Holmquist said Lang is working at “staying looser” at the end of races, maintaining better form instead of trying to power his way to the finish line.
“He’s becoming a really intelligent runner,” Holmquist said.
Dalton Johnston took Miller’s place in the 1600 relay, joining Flom, Josh Verdeja and Tyler Kampsula. With Miller out of the lineup there were no guarantees for the Spartans. But they managed to hold on, thanks to a huge effort in the final leg from Kampsula. Ellsworth’s Alex Campbell was giving all he could to catch Kampsula, but Kampsula held him off. The Spartans finished fourth in 3:34.8, three-tenths of a second ahead of Ellsworth.
“It was a fantastically run race by all four of them,” Holmquist said of his runners.
A big surprise for the Spartans was Peters, who 20 days earlier injured his hamstring at the New Richmond Relays. The coaches didn’t know if he’d be back this season, yet he was able to qualify for state with his best distance of the season in the shot put, 47 feet, 10.5 inches.
Holmquist said the Spartans have gained recognition as a strong program in this area, but now the team wants to be recognized state-wide.
“We want to be seen on the (state) podium. The kids deserve every bit of the recognition,” Holmquist said.
Krig and Broome lead the Spartan girls into the state meet. Krig was the only sectional champion for the girls team. She dominated the triple jump, with her winning distance of 34 feet, 11.75 inches being more than a foot better than any of the other competitors. Krig tied for second in the high jump as one of three girls who were able to clear 5-1.
The girls pole vault lasted well beyond any of the other events. Krig and Tomahawk’s Grace Mickelson both cleared 9-6, but Mickelson was awarded second and Krig third based on earlier misses.
Broome hasn’t gotten deserved recognition this year because she runs in the same conference as two of the top sprinters in the state, New Richmond’s Kat Keller and Osceola’s Aimee Rice-Strand. By placing third in the 100 and 200 dashes, Broome proved that she belongs among the state’s elite runners.
“Natalie ran well and knows she will have to get better this week to make the finals,” said Somerset girls coach Dave Praschak.
Broome won’t be alone in the 100 dash, with Henry running her best time of the season to qualify along with her.
Northey took third place in a talented 100 hurdle field. Praschak said Broome, Northey and Henry are working hard in practices between sectionals and state in an effort to improve their times and get into Saturday’s state finals.
The 400 meter relay team of Broome, Henry, Lauren Rathai and Siera Myer took fourth place at the sectional meet and Praschak said there is room for them to improve.
“The girls still have yet to run a flawless relay from start to finish. The girls are in great shape and should be able to P.R. at state if all four girls can deliver their best efforts,” Praschak said.