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New Richmond boys track team produces a jump in its results

New Richmond boys track coach Roger Reuvers was bordering on giddy with the results his team posted in the Osceola Indoor Invitational at the Knowles Center indoor facility at UW-River Falls last Thursday.

The Tiger boys won the meet, scoring 134 points to edge Osceola, which scored 129 points in the eight team meet. Osceola won the girls side of the meet with 149 points, with New Richmond taking second with 111 points.

New Richmond’s boys team is still in the growing process, and the growth shown in this meet was massive. The Tigers recorded personal bests in 19 events.

“We were surprised,” Reuvers said of the meet championship. “We weren’t expecting it by any means.”

Reuvers rated the improvement more meaningful than the meet victory.

“That’s pretty significant. We tell the kids they’re competing against themselves,” Reuvers said of the personal bests.

The personal bests led to the Tigers earning multiple places in seven individual boys events. One of those events was the 1,600 meters, where Bailey Wilson won the event in 4:47.  Jack Utzman took third place and Brennan Roby placed fourth.

The Tigers also took three of the four top spots in the 200 meters. The event was won by senior Allan Wollenberg, in his first meet since completing the powerlifting season.  Jimmy LaVenture placed second and Connor Schaefer fourth in the 200. While Wollenberg is a proven quantity, LaVenture and Schaefer are new contributors to the team. Wollenberg was also the Tigers’ top finisher in the triple jump. LaVenture also placed in the triple jump and 400 meters, and Schaefer earned points in the high jump.

The crowning moment of the night was the 1,600 meter relay, where the Tigers battled Osceola. The Tigers held the lead until Osceola took the lead at the handoff for the final leg. New Richmond anchor runner Zach Schoepke chased down Osceola’s anchor, taking the lead in the final stretch and holding on for the victory.

“Every kid came over to celebrate with him. It generated so much excitement,” Reuvers said of Schoepke’s incredible finish.

Schoepke was also the Tigers’ top finisher in the high jump, clearing the bar at 5 feet, 10 inches.

New Richmond’s girls didn’t create the fanfare the boys did, but they also saw a number of substantial improvements. Seniors Emily Kukacka and Maddie Kelly made big impacts. Kukacka was the winner in the high jump, but her biggest accomplishment may have been her fourth place finish in the shot put. This has been an event the Tigers have long been searching for someone who can score in every meet.

Kelly was the winner in the 800 meters and she placed second behind Kukacka in the high jump.

Tiger girls coach Judy Weiss said there were also several significant efforts in the distance races. She pointed to Kanya Dwire, who took fourth in the 800 meters and ran a strong leg in the 3,200 meter relay. Weiss was also pleased with the progress shown by Andrea Meisner and Victoria Johnson in the 1,600 meters.

“They both dropped 20 seconds off their times,” Weiss said.

The Tigers’ season is kicking into high gear with several upcoming outdoor meets. This Thursday the Tigers will be competing at Menomonie. That’s followed by the Husky Invitational at Eau Claire North next Tuesday.

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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