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St. Croix Central meet opens outdoor track season

Eleven anxious track teams couldn't wait to kick up their heels at the opening outdoor track meet of the season last Thursday at St. Croix Central.

It didn't matter that field events were cancelled because of snow and the conditions grew from cold to frigid as the meet wore on.

Central co-coach Amanda Webb said all the teams were ready to get outside, no matter the conditions. It got cold enough that the officials didn't enforce uniform rules, allowing distance runners to compete in layers of clothes.

"We had to make due and make it work," Webb said.

To keep the meet from stretching later into the net, teams were limited to three entries per individual event. Webb said the goal was to get as many kids on the track as possible in at least one meet.

The Panthers had only practiced outdoors a few times. It was the first competition for most of the Central athletes, though a few were given the chance to compete in an indoor meet at the University of Wisconsin-Stout on March 23.

Between the boys' and girls' rosters, the Panthers have 55 athletes out this season, a few more boys than girls. The Panthers have a few veteran athletes on both teams to serve as leaders. The boys are led by Jag Johnson, Carl Moll and Aaron Delander. Jessie Johnson and Laura DeSmith are the returning senior letterwinners on the Panther girls' squad.

The Panther boys placed seventh among the 11 teams in Thursday's meet, while the girls' team placed tenth.

There was one win scored by the Panthers, coming in the boys 800-meter relay. The team of Moll, Johnson, Delander and Josh Freyholtz won the event with a respectable time of 1:38.36. Freyholtz is a new addition at Central, a sophomore who moved into the district in March.

There were a number of strong finishes for the Panthers. Moll placed second in the 400 meters. The Panther coaches are excited about Delander beginning to compete in the 300 hurdles, where he took third place Thursday.

The top finish for the Panther girls also came in the 800 relay. The team of DeSmith, Brooke Kopacz, Ema Bond and Madison Malecek were able to finish in third place. DeSmith was also the fifth place finisher in the 100 meter dash.

The next scheduled meet for the Panthers arrives this Friday when they take part in the Rice Lake Invitational. The junior varsity meet that had been scheduled for Thursday at Elk Mound has been cancelled.