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New Richmond track teams finally get to compete

With a 10-day span between meets, the New Richmond track teams were ready to run when they competed in the Rice Lake Invitational last Friday.

The Tigers ran up against some top-quality opposition at Rice Lake. Nearly all of the teams the Tigers will face in the Division 1 regional meet were competing at Rice Lake. New Richmond’s girls placed fifth among the nine teams in the meet and the Tiger boys were sixth place finishers.

Both Tiger coaches used this meet to gauge where their teams have the best opportunities to advance when they compete next against these teams at the WIAA regional meet on May 27. The most encouraging performance came from the girls 1,600 meter relay team, which won the race in 4:16, four seconds ahead of second place Eau Claire Memorial. The winning team consisted of Peyton Olien, Abby Blader, Hanna Weinzerl and Maddie Kelly.

“Peyton ran the first leg and set a really nice tone,” said Tiger girls coach Judy Weiss. “That’s the best I’ve ever seen her run.”

Olien, Blader and Weinzerl were also part of the Tiger 800 meter relay team that took second place, with Kennedy Kling running the fourth leg in that race.

The 1,600 meter relay was part of an impressive day from Kelly. She dropped four seconds in her 800 meter time, down to 2:29. Kelly and senior classmate Emily Kukacka took the top two spots in the high jump event. Kukacka was credited with the win, with both girls clearing 4-10 successfully. Weiss said they both looked good in their attempts at 5 feet.

Kukacka had a noteworthy performance in the shot put as well. She threw a career-best distance of 31 feet, 2.25 inches, to take second place. Weiss was asked the last time a Tiger placed that highly in the shot put.

“Oh, it’s been a long time,” she said.

A new placewinner for the Tigers was freshman Kayla Heinz. She showed her potential by placing eighth in the 200 meters.

The Tiger boys also stacked some of their relays to see how they’d compete against their Division 1 brethren. The most successful was the 3,200 meter relay team, which placed second with a time of 8:32. Tiger boys coach Roger Reuvers said Brennan Roby, Bailey Wilson and Jack Utzman are locks for this relay if the Tigers think it can be a success in the WIAA tournaments. The fourth leg is still up for contention, with Sam Krueger and Erik Gilkison as the leading contenders.

“I think they can keep getting better,” Reuvers said of the 3,200 relay team.

Roby took third place in the 3,200 meter run on Friday. He took third place, but cut six seconds off his previous best time, showing how strong the Big Rivers Conference schools are in the distance races this year.

Junior Luke Landaal cleared 10 feet, 6 inches in the pole vault at Rice Lake.

“For someone who wasn’t pole vaulting a month ago, he’s really come along,” Reuvers said.

Another field event performance that caught the coaches’ attention was Jimmy LaVenture’s fifth place leap in the triple jump. LaVenture bounded out 39 feet, when his previous best had been 36 feet, 9 inches.

The Tigers will host the annual New Richmond Stan Barr Relays this Friday. The Tigers will also be in action next Monday, running in the Hudson True Team Meet. The Tigers are running at Hudson to make up for the April 22 home meet that was rained out.

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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