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Mac on the attack; Kelly earns two state medals

McKenzie Kelly didn't run her races at the state meet, she attacked them.

The New Richmond High School senior ran with a ferocious intensity that earned her two medals during Friday's races in the 2009 WIAA State Track and Field Championships at UW-La Crosse.

Kelly placed third in the Division 1 1,600 meter run. She followed that up by placing sixth in the 800 meter run. Kelly became the first Tiger girl to earn a state medal since New Richmond was elevated to Division 1 four years ago.

Kelly also ran the anchor leg in the Tigers' 1,600-meter relay, which placed 13th among the 24 teams in the relay.

New Richmond's 800 meter relay team just missed making finals, finishing 11th among the 24 teams in its race.

Kelly's relentless running earned her the two state medals. In the 1,600 she entered the race with the seventh best qualifying time from sectionals. Several times during the race the leaders tried to pull away from Kelly. Each time she went right with the leader. In the home stretch Brooke Selzner of Ashwaubenon was able to hold off Kelly to win the race. Kelly ended up third, with her time just behind that of Haley Johnson, the winner of the first heat of the race. Kelly finished the state race with a 5:07.17 time, an improvement of more than eight seconds from her sectional championship time.

"I thought she'd run her best time," said Tiger coach Judy Weiss. "She was going o go after it. She wasn't going to sit back and be safe."

Kelly came back a couple hours later to run the 800 meters. She was competing in the heat with the slower half of the qualifying times. That may have been to Kelly's advantage. She took the lead from the start, not having to deal with a pack of runners, and ran at her own pace. She finished in 2:18.08. That time beat seven girls from the faster heat and moved Kelly up to sixth place overall.

Within two hours, Kelly was running again as the anchor in the 1,600 relay. Senior Shelly Stockey ran the opening leg, followed by freshman Morgan Kelly and junior Mary Balow. Kelly brought the baton across to finish the relay with a time of 4:06.2. This was less than two-tenths of a second off their sectional time.

This was the first state track experience for Stockey and Morgan Kelly.

The same can be said for freshmen Carley Brotzler and Kat Keller who ran with Balow and Krissy Atterholt in the Tigers' 800 meter relay at state. The Tigers ran a time of 1:46.26, the fourth best time in team history in this relay. They missed qualifying for finals by less than a half-second.

Weiss said one of the goals for the team for next season is to keep improving the relays. She said the goal for next season is to be able to get relay teams into the state finals.