Girls track team shines at state

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MTT News's picture
Rob Reischel
Middleton's girls track and field team finished second at state last weekend./Photo courtesy of Christopher Hujanen

It took great will power and resolve.

But Tara Franklin refused to crunch the numbers and try guessing where her Middleton’s girls track and field team might finish at the WIAA Division 1 state meet last weekend.

“I just didn’t want to get caught up in all the numbers,” Franklin said. “I wanted to enjoy the moment.”

Finally, with three events left, Franklin relented.

Franklin knew it had been a brilliant two days for her Cardinals. But even she was surprised to discover Middleton was on the brink of a remarkable second place finish.

When Middleton’s 1,600-meter relay team then finished third, the Cardinals had achieved greatness — and locked up a second place finish.

Whitefish Bay won the title with 48 points, while Middleton was second with 39 points. Kenosha Bradford and Monona Grove tied for third with 36 points, while Waukesha West was fifth (31).

It was Middleton’s best finish at state since the 1997 and ’98 teams won back-to-back state championships.

“I am so incredibly proud of our girls’ team,” Middleton junior standout Lauren Smith said. “We came into state without even the thought of a team placement. We did our very best in all of our events and in the end it all added up to our best accomplishment as a very talented team.”

Middleton standout senior Bobbi Patrick agreed.

“I don’t think we could’ve performed better as a team,” Patrick said. “Everyone did their part perfectly. It was an amazing surprise.”

It was a weekend full of surprises for Middleton.

Smith set a school-record in the 100-meter hurdles, running a 14.82 in the preliminaries. Smith ran a 15.10 in the finals, which was good for second place, just behind Holmen’s Danielle Kohlwey (14.85).

“This whole year has been about improvement and I am happy to say that I accomplished that by getting second,” Smith said. “Breaking the school record for the fourth time was just icing on the cake.”

Patrick had a memorable weekend, too, highlighted by a third place finish in the 800. Patrick entered the state tournament seeded eighth in the 800, but her time of 2:12.90 also broke a school record.

“We have kids intrinsically motivated and driven,” Franklin said. “And Bobbi is motivated for herself and the team. It’s not just how Bobbi Patrick does, it’s how the team does.”

Patrick had qualified for state in the 800 the last two years, but made her final appearance the best yet.

“I’ve never been able to get in the fastest heat for the 800 the past two years I’ve gone, so to get in it this last year I knew would push me further than I’ve ever gone,” Patrick said. “The competition allowed me to truly see what I could do and I couldn’t be happier with my performance.”

Middleton’s four relay teams all set school records, as well, and all finished between second and fourth.

The quartet of junior Hailee Milton, Smith, junior Hanne Andersen-Smith and senior Hanna Docter was second in the 800-meter relay in 1:42.27.

“Coming into the 4x200 meter relay we were really hoping to break the school record, especially because we came so close last year at state,” said Smith, who also competed in the triple jump. “We were seeded sixth and we ended up finishing second overall, which surprised all of us. A huge victory for us. I’m really proud of our relay team.”

The foursome of senior Emily Zeker, senior Rachel Wians, junior Sam Valentine and Patrick was third (9:16.52) in the 3,200-meter relay.

“Both the relays were really intense to see who would walk away with the gold medals,” Patrick said. “We all gave our best and did everything we could.”

And the quartet of junior Olivia Roberts, Docter, Andersen-Smith, and Smith was fourth (48.82) in the 400-meter relay.

“I'm most happy about the growth and improvement these relay teams have had over the years,” Smith said. “I'm very grateful to have been able to participate in so many events.”

That left things up to Middleton’s 1,600-meter relay team of Docter, Zeker, Wians and Patrick.

Many of the Cardinals had no idea where they stood. But shortly before the race, Franklin told her group they were on the brink of greatness.

“We were just about to race the 4x4 when our coaches came up to the four seniors racing and told us about how we had a chance to get second in the state,” Patrick said. “We were completely caught off guard, but in a good way.”

Middleton needed to finish in fifth place, or better, to wrap up a second place finish. The Cardinals’ 1,600 then finished third.

“Oh my god!” Franklin said. “Shocking, surprised, amazed. You name it. It was just great.”

It most certainly was a weekend to remember.

“We went to La Crosse in hopes of PRs and our eyes on the podium,” Patrick said. “But we never thought for once about the team award.”

But that’s exactly what the Cardinals got in a state tournament they’ll never forget.

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