Boys track team poised for more big things

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MTT News's picture
Rob Reischel
Ernest Winters and Middleton’s boys track team are gunning for another big season./Times-Tribune photo by Mary Langenfeld

It was the program’s most memorable year in nearly a decade. And now, the goal is to continue the fun.

Middleton’s boys track and field team won the Big Eight Conference last spring for the first time since 2004. The Cardinals then won a regional championship, finished second at sectionals and were 19th at state.

The Cardinals began their 2014 campaign last Saturday at the UW-Whitewater Invite, and their mission is quite simple.

“I told them that I didn't want last year to be a one and done thing,” Middleton coach Isaac Mezera said. “They agreed that our goal should be to make Middleton track a program that continues last year's success for years to come.

“I'm so impressed with our senior leadership so far this season. The guys are more focused than ever. Last season gave them all a taste of success, and I'm proud that they realize the success came from hard work. We have the potential to repeat and I hope we can turn that potential into reality.”

The odds of that appear pretty good.

Middleton returns several key cogs from last year’s breakthrough team. And the Cardinals fully expect to have another big year.

Middleton’s top returnee is senior Andy Keeler, who was third in the state high jump with a mark of 6 feet, 6 inches. Keeler is also a solid triple jumper, and should be poised for a big senior season.

“I think his expectation is to continue the success in the high jump,” Mezera said of Keeler. “He is also an exceptional role model for the younger athletes, as he is extremely modest and down to earth.”

Senior Ernest Winters is one of the premier sprinters in the Big Eight. Last year, Winters ran the anchor leg of Middleton’s 400 meter state relay team.

“His expectation is to help us get both the 400 and 800 (relay teams) to state as well as making it individually,” Mezera said of Winters. “He will also be a major contributor to the conference team.”

Junior Travis Zander has already been to state twice as part of Middleton’s 1,600-meter relay teams. Last year, Zander ran the lead leg of the 1,600 that finished eighth at state. Zander is also a standout in the 400 and will compete from time to time in the 200.

Senior Noah Kern was the only Cardinal to compete in four events at the Big Eight Conference meet last year. Kern is a standout sprinter, competes in the high jump, as well as Middleton’s sprint relays.

Senior R.J. Pertzborn is one of the Cardinals’ more versatile performers and contributes anywhere from the 200 to the 800. Pertzborn also competes in the pole vault.  

“RJ's goal is to run on the red track in La Crosse,” Mezera said. “In attempting to attain that goal, RJ will contribute greatly to our 800, 1,600 and 3,200 (relay) teams, while getting the chance to run quite a few open 400's.”

Senior Tanner Rahmen qualified for state last year in the discus. And senior James Moreland is another sprinter who should be a major contributor.

Other seniors such as Hans Kunsch (hurdles), Parker Johnson (pole vault), Blake Clyce (long jump, sprints), Jackson Rock (middle distance), Kyle Beuchner (middle distance) and Andrew Torressani (throws) will all be looking for big seasons.

The junior class is led by Alex Leahy, who was part of Middleton’s state qualifying 400-meter relay team last year.

The class also includes Nnamdi Okoli (sprints, long jump), Nick Maes (triple jump), Zach Easton (200, 400), Andrew Plumb (1,600 and 3,200), Hayden Johnston (1,600 and 3,200), Zach Shoemaker-Allen (800), Noah Meeteer (sprints, pole vault), Brett Joers (field events) and Calvin Geppert (field events).

Middleton’s sophomore class is led by Perrin Hagge (800), Jack Jesse (long jump and high jump), David Marrone   (1,600 and 3,200), Will Funk (400), Griffin Gussel (sprints), Jordan Futch (400) and Max Westhoff (hurdles).

Among the Cardinals’ top newcomers are seniors Derek Rongstad (middle distance) and Hayden Acker (shot put), juniors Kellan Schulz (100 and 200), Roger Waffele (middle distance) and Alex Wood (100 and 200), sophomore Christian Lindblom (long distance), and freshmen Gus Newcomb (middle distance), Ryan Madoch (long distance) and Trevaun Turner (sprints).

Middleton’s strength figures to be in the sprints and field events, while the hurdles are still a work in progress.

When it's all said and done, though, these Cardinals expect to have just as much success as the 2013 bunch.

“We did have a breakout season last season, and I give those seniors from last year’s team a lot of credit for making that happen,” Mezera said. “This year's group seems equally confident that we can repeat as conference and regional champions. I also know that winning sectionals is important to the guys.”

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