MHS track teams keep picking up the pace

The Bluejays continue to find ways to shave time and stretch distances in track and field this season, and the latest episode came at the second-best time of the year-during Thursday’s WIAA Wausau East Sectional.
The Merrill boys notched three individual qualifiers and a relay in this weekend’s state meet, breaking three school records in relays, and posting the second-best distance in the discus.
The girls have qualified three individual events and a school-record relay, pulling out a surprising hurdle win in the process.
“I was really impressed with the times and distances,” MHS boys coach Kurt VandenHeuvel said. “Sam (Arneson) won the shot and disc, and Nick (Leskey) got in to state, too, so it was a pretty big day for the throwing guys. It’s just a shame that those relay guys couldn’t experience state, especially with the times they ran. To perform to the best of their ability is all I can ask.”
Arneson (54′ 7.75″) and Leskey (51′ 7.5″) ranked 1st and 3rd in the shot, and Arneson fired a 178′ 4″ discus throw to break the track record by 11 feet. That distance is the second-best of any sectional throw, although his regional title toss of 185′ 1″ is still #1 in all divisions in the state honor roll by 2-1/2 feet.
The 1600M team of Lucas Olson, Alec Oestreich, Jake Sczygelski and Derek Woellner set a new mark of 3:26.19 to rank third to earn a berth. The 400M group of Olson, Oestreich, Woellner and Kriss Philipp set a record of :43.95, but ranked 4th by .12 seconds, and missed state.
The 800M squad of Olson, Woellner, Oestreich and Kriss Philipp turned in a MHS mark of 1:30.78, but placed fifth, just .15 out of 4th. All three state qualifiers in the 800 relay broke track records, the slowest at 1:30.45.
“The guys are pumped,” VandenHeuvel said. “Their names are going to be on the board. No one was hanging their head. The good thing is 3/4’s of the guys are going to be back. We only lose Derek and Jake.”
For the girls, Sara Schleif won the 100M highs by a full 1/3rd of a second in :15.91 after finishing 2nd in Monday’s Wausau West Regional in :16.84. Places 2-4 on Thursday were scored by River Falls Regional qualifiers.
Freshman Renee Sladek qualified second in the high jump at 5′ 1″ and third in the discus at 115′ 6″. The 400M foursome of Mandy Vonderheid, Andi English, Brianna Piepenbrok and Sladek earned the final state berth with a 3rd-place :51.10.
“This was one of the most satisfying meets I’ve had the pleasure to coach in a number of years,” MHS girls coach Greg Eichelkraut said. “The girls were focused, anxious, relaxed, just the blend I like to see athletes have, especially in that level of competition. They did themselves and their community proud.
“Sara has gotten down her three-step (between each set of hurdles). The key is to maintain your speed. I thought she had a chance to go on but I didn’t think she’d win it. She really blew away the competition. It was a great way to start the running events for us.
“Renee handled the competition like a veteran. She was very efficient with her heights and almost got 5-2 in. In the discus you observe a lot of athletes try to throw far. I tell the girls to just throw well. She was knocking on the door for first with terrific form and in fact did have a throw out of bounds that may have been the longest throw.
“In the 4-by-100, Mandy is excellent out of the blocks and Brianna had an exceptional leg. She’s one of the best corner-runners (third leg) around. Everybody ran exceptional legs, but where I saw the difference was the curve and Renee’s finishing leg. Renee opened up a gap between third and fourth and was attacking for second.”
Emily Jones tied for third in the pole vault at 9′ 3″, but lost out on state after a prolonged vault-off.
“They had a three-way tie for the vault-off,” Eichelkraut said. “The New Richmond girl was out fairly early, but the Eau Claire North girl was a tough competitor like Emily. They kept moving the bar up and down for 15-20 minutes.”
Schleif also placed 6th in the pole vault at 8′ 6″. The freshman Vonderheid posted a PR of :13.04-the 2nd-fastest in team history-to rank 7th in the 100M.
For the boys, Jamie Marrier rated 6th in the 110M high hurdles in :16.12, and the 3200M team of Lukas Gessler, Riley Moscherosch, Bryce Litschauer and Trevor Myers matched the place in 8:47.25. Collecting 7ths were Leskey (discus, 135′ 11″), Cody Dengel (200M, :23.55) and Lucas Olson (high jump, 5′ 8″).
Team standings-Boys-D.C.E. 106.5, Hudson 106, Marshfield 80, W.W. 63, Lakeland 62, Merrill 53, New Richmond 52.5, Chip. Falls 30, Menomonie 23.5, Superior 23, Antigo 19.5, E.C. Mem. 19, W.E. 18, Rhinelander 14, River Fals 14, E.C.N. 11.
Girls-Hudson 105.5, D.C.E. 83.5, W.W. 76, W.E. 57, E.C. Mem. 56, Menomonie 53, New Richmond 52, Merrill 40, E.C.N. 36, Lakeland 34, Marshfield 24, Antigo 21.5, Riv. Falls 19.5, Superior 19, Chip. Falls 17, Rhinelander 5.

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