Track teams compete at state

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MTT News's picture
Dennis Semrau/For the Times-Tribune
Middleton's Gus Newcomb (right) finished fifth in the 3,200 at the WIAA Division 1 state track and field meet./Photo courtesy of Christopher Hujanen

LACROSSE — Sitori Tanin finished her freshman basketball season as a reserve on Middleton’s varsity squad.

But Tanin capped her debut with the Cardinals’ track and field program this spring as the leader of the pack.

Tanin placed seventh in the triple jump with a personal-best leap of 37 feet, 2 ¼ inches at the WIAA Division 1 state track and field meet at UW-La Crosse’s Veterans Memorial Stadium last Friday evening.

While Tanin narrowly missed a spot on the podium, trailing sixth-place finisher Armoni Brown of Waukesha South by ¾ of an inch, Tanin exceeded her expectations.

“I was really excited to qualify for state,” Tanin said. “It’s my first year doing track. I didn’t think I’d get this far. It was a great experience just getting here. My initial goal when I actually qualified for state was to make the finals because I was seeded ninth.”

Beloit Memorial senior Eva Laun-Smith won the title with a leap of 39-10 ½. Tanin was the lone Middleton performer to score points for the Cardinals, who tied for 57th place in the team standings with two points.

“Winning sectionals gave me a confidence boost,” said Tanin, who recorded her best jump at state on her second attempt in the preliminary round “But I was really, nervous coming here.

“The seniors helped a lot but it’s a whole new experience with all of the people.

“It felt good to get a PR right away. I didn’t get any more jumps in the 37s, but I got a few in the 36s. I was proud to get us some points even though I didn’t get on the podium.”

Junior Jennifer McGinnis also competed in the triple jump for the Cardinals, placing 17th with a 35-1 ½ effort.

Middleton had two competitors in the pole vault, as well, with senior Madelyn Pflasterer-Jennerjohn, the Big Eight Conference champion, finishing 13th with a vault of 11-0. Senior Betsy Hathaway missed all three attempts at the opening height of 10-6.

“Last year I was 17th, this year 13th. It wasn’t my best meet, but I’m still happy with how it went. I had a good season overall,” said Plasterer-Jennerjohn, who will compete at UW-La Crosse next year.

“It was super nice out. The starting height was 10-6. I made it on my first jump. Then I made 11 feet on my third attempt. But at 11-6, I was close but it just wasn’t quite there. On each one, there was some little thing that was off.”

The Cardinals qualified all four relays for state, but only the 800 relay of sophomore Tai Pritts, senior Alyssa Lemirande, McGinnis and sophomore Hadley Braaten advanced to the finals with a 10th place finish in the prelims. Middleton placed ninth in the finals with a time of 1 minute, 44.14 seconds.

Middleton’s 1,600 relay of junior Juliana Castillo, Lemirande, junior Marie Mayers and Braaten was 13th in the prelims in 4:00.99.

The 400 relay of Pflasterer-Jennerjohn, Pritts and seniors Rachel Zander and Hathaway was 18th in 50.32, while the 3,200 relay of freshman Charlotte Buck, senior Madeline Ace, junior Charlotte Sue and Braaten was 23rd in 10:07.06.

In the boys’ competition, senior distance runner Gus Newcomb and the Cardinals’ 400 relay of senior Anthony Gatlin, junior Aaron Richardson, freshman Joey Kean and senior Tre Turner accounted for nine points and tied for 28th place in the team standings.

Newcomb finished fifth in the 3,200 in 9:17.22 on Friday, but wasn’t sure if he would compete in the 1,600 on Saturday due a season-long injury.

“I’m doing okay,” said Newcomb after he led for the first lap before limping across the finish line with a seventh-place finish in 4:25.37. “I’ve had tendinitis in my ankle for about two and a half months. It’s kind of been wearing on me.

“I almost didn’t start the (1,600) race today. My coaches said I would probably regret it for a long time if I didn’t start the race. I just went out there and I did what I could. It wasn’t at all what I was looking for, but at least I can say I went out there and tried.”

Newcomb wasn’t the only Middleton distance runner hampered by an injury at state. Junior Jack Rader, who was seeded seventh, suffered an Achilles’ injury in practice earlier in the week and was a scratch in the 3,200.

Middleton sophomore Caleb Easton, who was seeded eighth in the 1,600, also was hampered by an injury and finished 25th in 4:46.53.

“I just had a poor race. I’m trying to figure that out,” Easton said. “I’ve had a nagging hip injury yesterday and today. I didn’t really feel it out there when I was going. But it felt like the hardest race of my life. It’s a mystery now we’re going to try to figure out.”

Richardson finished 10th in the long jump with a leap of 22-4 ¼.

But the Cardinals’ 400 relay set a personal-best mark in both the prelims (42.86) and finals (42.85) to finish on the podium with a sixth-place finish.

“We thought we were going to make it to state in the four-by-two because we were putting up some good times,” Gatlin said of the Cardinals’ 800 relay that failed to qualify for state. “Going into sectionals, we thought we had it. But we messed up on the second hand-off and it threw everything off.

“After that, we said if we can’t get the four-by-two to state, we have to get the four-by-one there. We all wanted to get there and we did.”

Middleton boys’ coach Joe Line said the 400 relay “exceeded our expectations.”

“I was proud of them, especially the seniors,” Line said. “Tre Turner has been our guy for four years and to see him get what he deserved was really, pretty, special. It was Anthony’s first trip to state. He was injured last year. He’s always had the skill to get to state. He finally pulled one of these relays out. It was special for him, big time.

“They were on a mission. It was the same group of guys in the four-by-two, who were in the four-by-one. They were on a mission the whole time. That helped us get on the podium.”

Line summed up the weekend for both the boys’ and girls’ squads at state.

“It was a tough weekend, especially for our distance runners,” he said. “But any time you can end your season at state, it’s a special season.”


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