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St. Croix Central track teams piece together running, field event meets

St. Croix Central’s Nathan Madlung leads a pack of runners in the 3,200 meter relay during the Panthers’ home track meet last Thursday.

Splitting the team up for two meets last week proved to be a beneficial move for the St. Croix Central track teams.

The Panthers decided the previous week that last Thursday’s home meet would only be held for running events, because the field event areas were still too wet for use. The Panther coaches acted quickly, getting their field event athletes added to an indoor meet in Menomonie.

The home meet went smoothly, with quite tolerable conditions for the nine teams to compete under on April 10. And because there were only running events and limited entries, the meet moved by extremely quickly.

The Panther boys took third place among the nine teams in Thursday’s meet while the Panther girls placed sixth.

Central coach Ben Lamb readily admits that the strength of the boys team is in the field events, so a third place finish was pretty impressive. The strengths on the track will be the distance races and the hurdle events, as they were on Thursday.

Jordan Bringgold earned the only victory for the Panther boys, decisively winning the 3,200 meter run.

“Jordan did a 600-meter kick at the end of the race,” Lamb said.

Lamb said one of the biggest surprises in the meet was sophomore Mike Hanson. He placed fifth in the 800 meters and ran a strong leg in the 3,200 meter relay.

“That wasn’t any speed he had last year,” Lamb said. “He’s getting stronger and more mature.”

In both hurdle races, the Panthers got third place finishes from senior Dante Carlson. Brandon Smith was right behind Carlson in the 110 high hurdles, placing fourth.

The coaches didn’t give the girls a heavy schedule of events, wanting them to ease into the season. Lamb has high hopes for the girls this season, based upon the talent mix of veteran and new athletes.

Freshman Katheryn Holter drew the highest praise from Lamb after her third place finish in the 100 meter dash, where she passed several runners in the second half of the race.

“She’s going to be pretty darn good for us,” Lamb predicted.

Holter finished just ahead of Ema Bond in the 100, showing the Panthers have good depth in the sprints.

Another of the girls who made a strong impression Thursday was Bailey Booth, who placed fourth in the 400 meters.

The Panthers also performed well in the sprint relays, posting wins in the 400 and 800 meter relays while taking second place in the 1,600 meter relay.

In the team competition, Central’s girls placed sixth among the nine teams.

Indoor meet

The Panther field event athletes got to compete two days earlier in an indoor meet at UW-Stout. It proved beneficial, with several individual highlights.

Leading the results for the Panthers were the performances in the pole vault, where Tony Berg and Brooke Kopacz both earned victories. Berg won the boys event by clearing the bar at 10 feet and Kopacz won the girls event by clearing 7 feet, 6 inches. Central senior Becca Isnardi was third, clearing 7 feet in the event.

“It was a huge confidence booster for Tony,” Lamb said. “It was only the second time he’s vaulted this year.”

Junior Jason Matteson took third place in two events in his first competition of the season. He cleared 6 feet in the high jump and he also took third place in the long jump with a leap of 19 feet, 3 inches.

“I think he’s close to being a 22-foot jumper when he puts everything together,” Lamb said of Matteson’s potential in the long jump.

The Panthers now have a two-week break between meets, with their next competition at Colfax on Thursday, April 24. Lamb said that gap between meets was planned because of the inexperience of so many of the Panther athletes.

“We need to coach them first, so by the time May rolls around, they’ll be ready,” Lamb said.

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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