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St. Croix Central track team advances seven events to state meet

Determination shows in the face of St. Croix Central freshman Katheryn Holter (center) as she sprints toward the finish line in the 100 meter dash finals at last Tuesday’s Ellsworth Division 2 regional track meet. 1 / 3
Junior distance runner Jordan Bringgold put in two of the finest races of his career at the sectional meet, but just missed qualifying for state in the 1,600 and 3,200 meter races.2 / 3
Sophomore Emma Landry qualified for sectionals in the triple jump for the Panthers.3 / 3

The largest number of entries in a sectional tournament in years for the St. Croix Central track team produced excellent results.

The Panthers are advancing to this weekend’s WIAA State Track and Field Championships in La Crosse in seven events. This is the largest number of qualifiers the Panthers have taken to state in several years.

There were 20 Central entries competing in Friday’s Division 2 sectional track meet in Bloomer.

The state entries are well distributed through the Panther program, with four girls events and three boys events advancing. Kayla Pabst and Jason Matteson will compete in two individual events at state. Josh Freyholtz and Katheryn Holter will compete in one event. Holter will also be part of the Panther girls 400 meter relay team that qualified. Pabst and Freyholtz are both competing at state for the second time after qualifying in 2013.

Pabst is returning to state in the discus throw, after winning the sectional championship in the event. She also qualified in the shot put, coming up with a school record effort to earn fourth place in the sectional meet.

Freyholtz is returning to state in the pole vault. He cleared the bar at 13 feet, 3 inches to take fourth place in the sectional meet.

Matteson qualified in the triple jump and the high jump. He came up with a school record leap of 43 feet, 2.5 inches to take second place in the triple jump. He tied for fourth place in the high jump, then won a jump-off to earn the final spot in the state tournament field.

Holter advanced by placing fourth in the 200 meter dash. Holter joined seniors Brooke Kopacz and Hope Hoolihan and junior Bailey Booth in an exceptional second place performance in the 400 meter relay.

With their strong overall performances, the Panther girls were able to place ninth and the boys placed 11th in the final team results at the sectional meet.

“Even the kids who didn’t qualify (for state) did a great job,” said Central coach Ben Lamb.

Pabst heads to state with the second best qualifying throw in the discus. Lamb said the best part of Pabst’s performance at the sectional meet was her consistency from throw to throw. She won the sectional meet with a throw of 127 feet, 8.5 inches. Pabst had to earn her sectional championship. Hayward’s Darcy Roehl took the lead on her last throw. Pabst stood up to the challenge, winning the event on her last throw.

Pabst’s advancement in the discus throw was no surprise, but her trip to state in the shot put certainly was. After throwing in the 32-33-range the past few weeks, Pabst launched the shot 37 feet to take fourth place at the sectional. That throw tied a school record that had stood since 1983.

Pabst wasn’t the only Panther to set a school record at the sectional meet. Freyholtz became the first Panther pole vaulter to clear 13-3. Lamb said Freyholtz has been struggling to clear the bar at 13 feet. Freyholtz was able to clear the 13-foot barrier on his final attempt at that height. Freyholtz then cleared 13-3, which locked up his place at state. The coaches had him stop vaulting at that point, so he could concentrate on his other field events. Freyholtz just missed advancing in the high jump, clearing 6 feet. By the time he went to the long jump his legs were drained and he finished 12th.

Matteson also put himself on the school record board with his 43-2.5 effort in the triple jump. He qualified for finals with his first jump, so he was able to work on technique in his next attempts. In working with the coaches he found an area where he could improve and it resulted in his record-breaking jump.

In the high jump, Matteson wasn’t as smooth, needing the jump-off to advance. Lamb said Matteson is just beginning to discover how good he can be.

“He has the potential to be a college track athlete,” Lamb said.

Holter and the Panther girls sprinters have made tremendous improvement this season. Holter’s first event was the 100 meters, where she finished eighth. She was met at the finish line by several of her teammates, who helped her rebuild her confidence for the relay.

“That helped her to relax a lot,” Lamb said of the gesture by her teammates.

The relay team set a school record in the finals, finishing in 44.04 seconds. It was Holter’s powerful anchor leg of the relay that secured their place at state.

“They gave Katheryn a chance. She got the baton in fifth place,” Lamb said.

This was the sixth year that the Panthers have taken a 400 relay team to sectionals under Lamb and the first time that relay team has qualified for state.

The confidence of advancing in the relay helped Holter in the open 200, where she placed fourth in 27.15 seconds.

This is the first time in several years that the Panthers have gotten any girls to state in running events. Their recent state entrants have mainly been in the triple jump and throwing events.

The state meet will be held at UW-La Crosse on Friday and Saturday. The meet schedule works out well for the Panthers. Pabst and Matteson will have one event each day. Holter and the 400 relay will have preliminary races on Friday and Freyholtz will compete in the pole vault on Friday.

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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