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Teamwork drove St. Croix Central girls to MBC track title

Junior Katie Koerper (left) was one of the key reasons for St. Croix Central’s MBC team championship, placing in four events in the conference meet.1 / 3
Jessie Kinney was the top performer in the throws for the St. Croix Central girls track team.2 / 3
Mike Steinmetz is shown competing in the triple jump while dealing with the rain during the Middle Border Conference meet.3 / 3

Teamwork. That’s been the mantra of the St. Croix Central track team all season and it brought unprecedented success to the Panthers at the 2017 Middle Border Conference Track Championships.

The St. Croix Central girls won the first-ever MBC team championship for St. Croix Central in any sport when they ran away from the pack to win the title last Tuesday. The Panthers won the meet with 147 points, which was 29.5 points more than second place Osceola.

The Panther boys also put together a strong meet, but didn’t have the firepower to stick with Osceola and New Richmond. The Panthers took third place in the boys meet with 107.5 points.

Central’s coaches knew what they needed from the sprinters, the distance runners and the field event girls and all three groups produced. The coaches concluded that the girls could win the team title if they could reach the 143point mark.

The coaches felt the field events were critical because opposing teams were hoping to gain on the Panthers there.

“We felt we had the best team on the track,” said Central coach Ben Lamb.

The field event success began in the high jump, where Mia Krogseng was second and Claire Moll was fourth. It extended to the triple jump where Krogseng was third and Mary Buckel was fourth.

With the field events producing, the track athletes dealt with the weather and produced outstanding results. Lamb said three girls led the team, senior Katheryn Holter and juniors Liv Moll and Katie Koerper.

Holter looked back to full health, winning the 100 and 200 meter dashes, while placing third in the 400 meters. Her 100 and 200 times rank among the best of her career.

Moll was the leader of the distance girls, a group that was asked to carry a heavy burden in pursuing the conference title. Moll was the conference champion in the 1,600 and 3,200 meters. She also placed third in the 800 meters. The coaches knew they were asking a lot in having her run the 800 meters and then the 3,200, with just a brief rest in between.

“The only other person I ever asked to do that (run the 800, 1,600 and 3,200), was Brett Johnson,” Lamb said.

In every distance race, the Panthers stepped up. Claire Moll was fifth and Marie Hamlin eighth in the 1,600. The 3,200 relay team placed third. Claire Moll was fourth in the 800. And Courtney Carlson took second and Mariah Withuski ran fourth in the 3,200 meters.

Lamb said Withuski deserves special recognition for the grit she showed in the 3,200.

“She ran the last mile in pain. She collapsed at the finish line,” Lamb said.

Koerper was one of the few girls in the meet to place in four events. It started with her second place finish in the 100 hurdles and she ran third in the 300 hurdles. She took sixth in the long jump and ran the anchor leg in the 1,600 relays.

“She was a 17-point kid, we could not ask for more. She only high jumps in meets we need her to because her shins are so bad,” Lamb said.

Lamb said across-the-board the contributions from the girls shows the dedication of the team, including performing well in all four relays and placing in a number of other individual events.

“The thing we preach is the team concept and we got it here. They’re the first team to win a conference title from St. Croix Central. They made history,” he said.

The Panther boys were able to win championships in five events at the meet. The meet began with senior Trevor Nelson shattering the school record in the triple jump, with his best jump reaching an exact 44 feet.

The other field event win came in the pole vault from junior Nathan Strader. Strader was injured in warmups and was pulled from all his other events. He only tried one attempt at the pole vault, but by clearing the bar at 12 feet in his first attempt, he secured the conference championship.

The top point producer in the boys throwing events at the conference meet was Central sophomore Joe Hueg. Hueg earned the championship in the distance throw with a mark of 137 feet, 10 inches. He also was the third place finisher in the shot put. The coaches are enthused by the consistency Hueg has shown, hitting in the high 130s in three straight meets.

The other two Panther championships came in the sprint relays. The team of Frank Holter, Eugene Kaul, Zac Bringgold and Jacob Murtha broke the school record with their winning time of 1:34.34. The previous record was set in 2013. Holter, Bringgold, Murtha and Austin Kopacz ran the 400 relay in 44.86, missing the school record by threehundredths of a second.

There were a number of Panthers throughout the results. Bringgold placed second in the high jump, with Brett Mousel placing fourth. Holter took third in the 100 dash and Murtha was fourth in the 200. Nelson took fourth in the 110 hurdles, fifth in the long jump and sixth in the 300 hurdles.

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 more than 30 years.

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