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Somerset boys, St. Croix Central girls record wins at Panther home track meet

Somerset’s Sam Schoenborn takes off after receiving the baton from Max Praschak in the final exchange of the 400 meter relay at the New Richmond Relays on Friday.

The Somerset boys and St. Croix Central girls track teams put up strong performances in scoring team victories in the St. Croix Central Track Invitational held last Tuesday.

Somerset’s boys were able to run away from the competition in the 10-team meet. The Spartans scored 134 points, compared to second place Webster’s 97 points.

Central’s girls fought off challenges from two other Dunn-St. Croix Conference teams. The Panthers won the meet with 109.7 points. They were followed closely by Elmwood-Plum City at 106 points and Glenwood City at 95.4 points.

Boys meet

Somerset earned just one individual win in this meet, taken by junior Max Praschak in the 110 high hurdles. The Spartan coaches did some experimenting, loading up their 400 and 800 meter relay teams. They got the results they were hoping for, with the Spartans posting impressive times in a pair of victories.

The Spartans loaded up the relays because of the burgeoning talent they’re developing in the sprints. Sam Schoenborn and Dallas Johnson have been among the top sprinters in the area this season. Spartan coach Terry Otradovec said that with the recent progress shown by Mitchell Foster and Bailey White, plus the availability of Praschak for relay events, the Spartans suddenly have a number of strong options in the sprints.

Though the Spartans didn’t record any wins in the field events, the jumps all remain a steady source of points. Somerset’s Aaron Joppru suffered a rare defeat in the pole vault, but he still managed a second place finish by clearing the bar at 12 feet, 6 inches. That was one of three second place finishes for the Spartans in the jumping events. Joppru was also second in the triple jump and third in the long jump. Johnson was second in the long jump.

St. Croix Central’s boys ranked fifth among the 10 teams in the meet. The good news for the Panthers is the first three teams in the results weren’t Dunn-St. Croix Conference teams. The only D-SC team ahead of the Panthers was Spring Valley and the Cardinals were simply one point ahead of Central.

Josh Freyholtz was the standout for the Panther boys, setting a school record by being the first Panther pole vaulter to clear the bar at 13 feet. Freyholtz also placed second in the high jump, where teammate Brandon Smith was third.

Other second place finishes for the Panthers came from Jordan Bringgold in the 1,600, Dante Carlson in the 300 hurdles and Decker Grass in the discus throw.

Girls meet

The Central girls weren’t expecting to win the meet, after having to leave several events vacant. The Panthers who did compete came up with big efforts.

That was led by senior Kayla Pabst, who set a school record by launching the discus 129 feet, 8 inches. That distance won the event.

One of the highlights for Central was the victory by senior Brooke Kopacz in the long jump. She won by leaping 16 feet.

“Brooke’s a weight room kid. When she puts her mind to something, she does it well,” said Central coach Ben Lamb.

The Panthers also performed extremely well in the sprints. They won both sprint relays and took three of the top four places in the 100 meter dash. Freshman Katheryn Holter won the event, with Hope Hoolihan second and Ema Bond fourth.

The narrow win over conference opponents, when the Panthers hadn’t stacked their lineup, would give the impression that Central should be a strong competitor in next Tuesday’s Dunn-St. Croix Conference meet.

Somerset’s girls are in a growth mode this season, but it now looks like that growth is starting to happen. The Spartans were much more competitive in this meet. The Spartans got a victory from Susan Schmitt, who dropped her time from 1:07 to 1:04 to win the 400 meters.

“She’s worked incredibly hard, but she’s never been able to shave that time off, so it’s a big relief for her,” Otradovec said.

Sam Flandrick had a strong showing, placing second in the 100 hurdles and fifth in the long jump, reaching the 15-foot mark for the first time.

The sprints were where the Spartan girls shined the brightest, taking three places in the 100 and 200 meters. Heather Hartwick was the top finisher, placing second in the 200, with Avery Gunther in fifth and Shannon Belisle sixth. Gunther was the Spartans’ top finisher in the 100, placing fifth, followed by Belisle in sixth and Jessie Swanson in eighth.

“I didn’t think Avery would be sub-14 seconds (in the 100), that’s outstanding,” Otradovec said.

Amery meet

The Spartans and Panthers also competed in the rain-shortened Amery Invitational last Thursday.

After a rain delay that began during the 3,200 meter relay, the meet was restarted. It lasted until another wave of rain came through, shutting down the meet during the running of the 400 meter dash.

The Central boys were credited with the meet championship. They scored 44 points in the seven events that were completed. Somerset was second among the 11 boys teams in the meet. The St. Croix Central girls placed fourth in their half of the meet, with Somerset placing 10th among the 12 girls teams.

The truncated meet still had some highlights for both schools. The strength in the boys distance runners in the area was shown in this race. Central’s Bringgold ran a career best 4:48 in the 1,600, but that was still just good enough for third place, with St. Croix Falls standout Henry Klein winning in 4:36. Somerset’s Brandon Mondor also made a significant improvement to place fourth, finishing in 4:54.

The biggest news for the Somerset boys came in the long jump. Senior Dallas Johnson produced the best performance of his career. His leap of 21 feet, 8 inches was not only a personal best, it also tied the Spartan team record.

Somerset had another good day in the hurdles. Praschak and Ethan Lammers took the top two places in the boys 110 hurdles and Flandrick was second in the girls 100 hurdles.

Central had some strong results in the field events. Grass won the discus throw, elevating his distance to 135 feet. Pabst took second place in the shot put with a distance of 35 feet, 4 inches.

Somerset doesn’t compete again until the Middle Border Conference Meet, which will be held at Osceola High School next Tuesday. St. Croix Central competes this Thursday at Glenwood City, the first meet run in Glenwood City in a number of years. That’s the last competition for the Panthers before next Tuesday’s Dunn-St. Croix Conference meet, which will take place at Mondovi.

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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