It took a driving rainstorm to steal Jackson Acker’s thunder last month.
The recent Verona graduate was doing more than pursuing a double dip of throwing titles when he traveled to the WIAA Division 1 state track and field meet on June 26 in La Crosse.
Acker had made it clear he was shooting for the state record in the discus throw.
The goal held special meaning for Acker because the holder of the record was former Verona great Luke Sullivan, who posted a throw of 193 feet, 3 inches in 1993. State records must be set at the state meet.
Anticipation ran high, because Acker had already surpassed Sullivan — and the 200-foot mark — three times during the season.
But on the day of the state meet, intermittent but often heavy rains provided less-than-ideal conditions for the throwers. And while Acker left without the record, he proudly wore two new gold medals after winning the discus (183-9) and shot put (57-2¾).
The University of Wisconsin football recruit also anchored the 400-meter relay to a sixth-place finish. Verona finished tied for fourth in the Division 1 standings.
For those performances, Acker has been named the Wisconsin State Journal All-Area Track and Field Athlete of the Year.
The honor is no surprise — Acker also earned the Gatorade State Track and Field Athlete of the Year honor. His pair of championships validated his decision against leaving Verona at the semester break to enroll early at UW to take part in spring football practice.“I had the option,” Acker said at state, “but I was in track all four years. I came into this year not sure of what I’d do, but a lot of hard work, great practices and great coaching helped me to get it done.”
Also considered for the award was junior Lucas Heyroth, who helped Lodi tie Jefferson for the Division 2 team championship by winning titles in the 110-meter hurdles (14.56 seconds), 300 hurdles (:39.19) and long jump (22-10). He also ran on the fourth-place 800 relay (1:31.19).
Coach of the Year
Veteran Lodi coach Randy Skellenger turned Heyroth and his teammates loose at the Division 2 state meet on June 25 and the result was a shared championship with Jefferson — the first state title in program history.
It was one step better than their finish the previous time there was a track season in 2019, when the Blue Devils earned runner-up honors. As a result, Skellenger was named All-Area Coach of the Year.“Being able to get it this year, post-COVID … staying healthy, not having to battle any crazy injuries and then executing day of — it’s amazing,” Skellenger said at state. “And crazy props to my coaching staff as well for helping prepare the kids.”