Garrett Krueger let his competition motivate him Friday afternoon, and it turned into a state runner-up finish for the Bangor High School senior.
Krueger unleashed a personal-best toss of 174 feet, 4 inches to place second in the Division 3 discus at the WIAA state track and field meet on Friday.
“I scratched my first throw, and that made me a little nervous,” Krueger said. “But I got a good throw, made it to the finals and got another good throw.”
The placement throw was 5 feet better than his previous best, and he built the momentum for the throw with his eyes on Wisconsin Rapids Assumption senior Ben Veverka’s 179-0. Veverka’s throw followed Krueger’s 169-0 in the third round and made his the throw to beat.
Krueger, who competes in the shot put on Saturday, finished one spot ahead of his seed and scored eight points for the Cardinals as they try to win a team championship. He said members of the team are simply trying to hold seeds or beat them in the quest for the title.
“We’re just trying to support each other and see what we can do,” said Krueger, who was fifth in the discus last year. “We want to do better than our seed because that will help us.”
G-E-T sophomore sprinter Davis Wenthe battled foot and hamstring injuries all season long. It hampered him at sectionals where he admitted they were a factor in what he called a poor showing. He was still able to qualify for state in the 110-meter hurdles in addition to the 400 and the high jump. The most frustrating part was that the cause was tough to find.
That is until three days ago, when it was discovered that Wenthe had grown 3 inches in the last six weeks. Wenthe said his body was growing so fast he was having growing pains. With that discovered, a relieved Wenthe made the necessary adjustments and is now heading to the finals in both the 110 hurdles and the 400, after he finished with the third-best time in the hurdles (15.06) and seventh-best in the 400 (51.56). This is the first time Wenthe qualified for state in a running event — he was ninth in the high jump last year as a freshman. His simple goal was to not hit a hurdle.
“I just wanted to make finals and don’t mess up,” Wenthe said. “I just knew I had to run and not trip over a hurdle.”
His goal for Saturday is to run a sub-15. If he can do that he will be in contention for a top-two or -three finish, as only Lodi’s Robby Hatch (14.54) and Cudahy’s Isaac Guillama (14.9) finished under 15. Despite this being Wenthe’s first state race he admitted there weren’t many nerves.
He entered the 400 as the 15th seed and heads to the finals as the seventh.
“In sectionals, I ran very poorly,” Wenthe said. “That is more like my regular time.”
Wenthe will now have three events on Saturday beginning with the high jump at 10 a.m.
Malecek implements strategy
Onalaska freshman Kora Malecek said she didn’t run with strategy last cross country season.
But she took some advice from coach Darin Shepardson on Friday and turned it into a fifth-place finish in the Division 1 3,200 with a personal-best time of 10:58. Her previous best was 11:07.
“Shep made the plan, and it was good, because I probably would’ve went out too fast,” Malecek said. “Usually if I follow it (the strategy), I race really well. I have to keep doing that.”
Janesville Craig’s Peyton Sippy won the race in 10:42.
Malecek set a goal of running under 11 minutes. It also helped that she felt she underperformed as a member of the Hilltoppers 3,200 relay earlier in the day.
“It was really crazy being up on the podium,” Malecek said. “Last year, my sisters and I went to the meet and we would be there comparing times. Now, we’re here and we’ve worked very hard to make it here.”
She ran with her other two sisters, Lydia and Amalia, to get a seventh-place finish. Kora ran the second leg of the relay, and her split was 2:21.49.
“The state meet is a double-edged sword,” Shepardson said. “It’s a meet where it should never define a season, but it has that potential to. On the reverse side, if you come here and perform well, you feel good about your season. One meet doesn’t define your season.”
high in relays
After winning a state championship in the triple jump as a freshman and four medals in the triple jump and three relays as a sophomore, Bangor’s Ashlie Lockington kept her goal of four gold medals her junior year intact after a solid Friday performance.
Lockington anchored all three of the Cardinals’ relays that advanced to the finals and will also compete in the triple jump, where she is seeded second, on Saturday. Her busy day ended when she anchored the 1,600 relay in a top-seeded time of 4:05.13.
But she said the best is yet to come.
“My legs are like jello,” Lockington said following the 1,600 relay. “But I’m really proud of my team this far.”
Lockington has high hopes for all three relays after the 400 and 800 relays both earned No. 2 seeds for the finals.
“We’ll be pushed,” she said. “But hopefully we’ll be on top.”
La Crosse Central has busy day
The Central boys team competed in three relay events Friday.
The Red Raiders were in the 400 and 800 relays on Friday, and will compete in the 3,200 finals on Saturday. The two sprint events — the 400 and 800 — advanced to the finals on Saturday.
The 400 team had the fourth-fastest time (42.41) and the 800 squad was sixth — just ahead of Logan’s qualifying team — at 1:28.97.
“We just went out there and ran our hardest and we are moving on. We have to give it our all that’s basically it,” said Central’s Jamar Davis, who competed in both the 400 and 800 relays.
Westby’s Cameron Nelson grabs fifth
Norsemen pole vaulter and first-time state participant Cameron Nelson came in knowing he needed to vault at least 14 feet. The only problem is the junior had never done it before. He did it Friday to get a spot on the podium.
“I had to make 14,” said Nelson, who was fifth. “I had to to make podium. I went out here and did what I could. That was my first time ever making 14. A PR. I couldn’t be happier.”
The junior missed last season because of a hip flexor injury and was looking forward to state, but the event surpassed his expectations.
“This is my first time making it to state ... and this is an amazing experience,” Nelson said. “The turnout, everybody here is just awesome. I love the enthusiasm, the energy. It’s really just an honor to be here.”
La Crosse Aquinas in good position
Aquinas has three boys relays teams running Saturday after making the cut in preliminaries.
The Blugolds are in the top six in Division 2 in the 100, 400, and 1,600 relays. Their best finish was in the 400 relay where they finished in 1:30.89.
Aquinas was sixth in the 400 (43.64) and third in the 1,600 (3:25.55). They led for a lap in the 1,600.
“Those first three guys are arguably the most important part,” Aquinas senior Conley Malone said. “They dictate how the rest of the race goes.”
Malone was involved in all three relays on Friday, including the anchor of the 1,600.
“All of our guys ran great races,” Malone said. “I can’t ask for anything more. We know we don’t win the state championship on prelims day. I think everyone has more in them.”
Sevanna Utesch closes with PR
Tomah junior Sevanna Utesch didn’t mind that she finished eighth on Friday in the wheelchair shot put competition. She had a blast being there.
Utesch broke a personal record on her last throw in the competition with a throw of 8 feet.
As she crossed the track toward the crowd, she proudly wore a smile and the medal for being there.
“It was the best, like O-M-G,” Utesch said. “I’ve been working toward this since the beginning of the season.”
Utesch’s experience isn’t done yet. She’ll compete in the 100-meter wheelchair race at 10:30 a.m. Saturday.
C.J. Siegel seventh in long jump
Logan senior C.J. Siegel finished seventh in the long with a leap of 21-11¾ feet. He was also in the 800 relay team that advanced to Saturday’s final.
Jett Mickelson runs strong race
Central’s Jett Mickelson had the second-fastest time in his heat during the 800, but had to wait for the second heat to see if he’d make the podium.
Mickelson’s time in was 1:55.76, but it came just short of making the top eight in Division 1. And, he understood that there was good competition that ran after him.
“I wanted to see how I could compete with the other guys,” Mickelson said. “I did what I needed to do, and it wasn’t quite enough to place or podium, but I’m quite all right with that. I ran my race. I really ran the best I could.”
The winner of that race was Stevens Point senior Liam Belson (1:53.54).