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Tigers send Wickham, Kelly and relays to state

New Richmond track athlete McKenzie Kelly (center) qualifies for state.

New Richmond seniors Jake Wickham and McKenzie Kelly have gone the distance.

They will complete their superb high school distance running careers by competing at the WIAA State Track and Field Championships this Friday and Saturday at UW-La Crosse.

They will be joined at the state meet by New Richmond's girls 800 and 1,600 meter relay teams, which were both champions in last Friday's WIAA Division 1 Wausau West Sectional Meet.

The 800 meter relay team of Carley Brotzler, Mary Balow, Krissy Atterholt and Kat Keller set a school record by running a 1:45.31 time in the sectional meet.

The 1,600 meter relay team of Shelly Stockey, Morgan Kelly, Balow and McKenzie Kelly won the meet with a time of 4:06.01.

Girls team

With McKenzie Kelly advancing in two events and the two relays reaching state, the Tiger girls have the most state qualifying events since New Richmond moved up to Division 1 three years ago.

"It's not often we get four firsts, that's pretty phenomenal," said Tiger girls coach Judy Weiss about the team's success at the Division 1 sectional meet.

Kelly has been outstanding in the distance races this season. In the sectional 1,600 meter race, her time of 5:15.81 was her career best. And that came without being pushed. She won the meet with a five-second cushion over the second place finisher.

In the 800 meters Kelly was challenged by Eau Claire Memorial's Gretchen Bachmeier. Kelly showed how she answers a challenge. She topped her regional meet time by four seconds to win the race in 2:20.67.

Weiss was thrilled with the school record performance by Brotzler, Balow, Atterholt and Keller in the 800 meter relay. This is a relay that came together midway through the season. They clicked right away and have been nearly unstoppable ever since.

The 1,600 relay team of the Kelly sisters, Stockey and Balow came together early in the season and has been running at a top level all season.

Weiss said that Morgan Kelly was able to bring her split down to a 1:01 at the sectional, giving Weiss hope that the team will perform well at state.

"We can take a couple more seconds off," Weiss predicted.

That was as far as she would go on making any state predictions. Weiss said there are so many variables at state, that she wants the girls to concentrate on improving their own times and not worry about other teams' performances.

The Tigers nearly had more state entries too. The 400 meter relay team missed by the thinnest margin possible. The team of Brotzler, Balow, Atterholt and Keller ran a 50.57 time, tying Wausau West for third place. Meet officials had to go to a photo finish, where it was determined that West had edged out the Tigers for third place.

Junior Molly Holland nearly advanced in the high jump. Holland was able to clear 4 feet, 10 inches, but needed to get over the next height to advance and wasn't able to do so. She finished in fourth place.

Boys team

Wickham was favored to win the 1,600 meter race at sectionals and he did so handily. He finished with a time of 4:24.95.

Wickham continues his pursuit of the school record time in this event. His sectional time was just over a second off the record, which was set by Brian Anderson in 1977.

Tiger coach Roger Reuvers said he didn't know Wickham was sick until after this race. The illness showed when Wickham ran in the 800 meters. Wickham led through the first lap, but was passed by a handful of runners in the second lap. Coming out of the final corner, Wickham put on a final kick and worked his way back up to third place at the finish line.

While Wickham was the only Tiger boy to reach state, the team had a number of strong performances at the sectional. Nate Suo took fourth place and Cody Taubman sixth place in the 110 high hurdles. Suo matched his career best time and Taubman set a new career best in the race. Taubman, a sophomore, was the only 110 hurdle finalist who wasn't a senior.

Senior John Peper made another strong charge in the 100 meters, finishing seventh. His younger brother, Shaun, placed fifth in the discus throw. His throw of 141 feet, 9 inches was the second time he's gone over 140 feet in a meet.

All four Tiger relays competed at the sectional meet. The best finish was by the 800 meter relay team, which placed fifth. The 1,600 and 3,200 relay teams ended up sixth and the 400 meter relay team suffered a dropped baton, pushing them back to eighth place.

Tony Stockey competed in the pole vault, placing sixth by clearing 12 feet in the event.

Dave Newman
Dave Newman has been the sports editor at the New Richmond News since 1988. He has covered the action in the Middle Border Conference, Dunn-St. Croix Conference and Big Rivers Conference for nearly 30 years.
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