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Wickham completes his milestone career

Jake Wickham has planted himself in the New Richmond boys track record book like no distance runner in school history has.

Wickham ran a 4:28.54 time in the Division 1 1,600 meter run during a massive rainstorm on Saturday during the WIAA State Track and Field Championships.

Wickham placed 17th in the state Division 1 race. Wickham was hoping to break the New Richmond school record in the 1,600 but Saturday's weather and a recent illness left him unable to make the powerful kick at the end of the race that he has shown in so many of his races this season.

Wickham also ran at state in the 800 meters during Saturday's rainstorm. He finished 22nd out of 26 runners, in a time of 2:03.28.

The 1,600 meters is where Wickham has made his biggest impact.

"He comes out as one of our best distance runners ever," said Tiger boys coach Roger Reuvers.

The numbers back up Reuvers' claim. In the top 10 times in 1,600 races in Tiger history, Wickham owns five of the best times. He has run five 1,600 races where he has finished in under 4:30. There are only three other Tigers who have ever accomplished that mark, Brian Anderson, Terry Barr and Nate Paulson.

Wickham's time at the sectional meet (2:00.48) also puts him in the top 10 times in Tiger history in the 800 meters.

Wickham is planning to continue his running career at UW-Oshkosh. Reuvers said Wickham has a rare combination of speed and endurance, plus the willingness to get the most out of his talent.

"He's really worked hard this year. He's been very consistent about working out and improving his core strength and getting his miles in," Reuvers said.

Wickham is the first miler to reach the state meet since Reuvers joined the Tiger coaching staff in 1992.

Anderson keeps record

Wickham's pursuit of Brian Anderson's school 1,600 meter record drew state-wide attention, as it was included in the state tournament notes in Friday's La Crosse Tribune. Distance running coach Beth Kelly is Anderson's sister, putting her in an interesting situation, trying to coach Wickham past her brother's record.

Anderson set the record of 4:23.5 at the Middle Border Conference meet in 1977. He broke the record that had been held by Terry Barr, son of former Tiger track coach and athletic director Stan Barr.

Anderson watched this season as Wickham made several near runs at his record. Anderson said he joked with Wickham that he didn't want to see the record broken at this year's conference meet, which happened to fall on Anderson's 50th birthday.

"That would have been a dark day," Anderson joked.

Anderson said he felt bad for Wickham that he was ill at sectionals and then had to run in a horrendous rainstorm at state. Anderson said without that bad luck, he felt sure that Wickham would have broken the record.