Gerber not to be denied in last title chance

A blazing-hot forgettable Friday quickly turned into a Saturday to long be remembered and cherished for the THS track teams.
From Matt Gerber’s first state title with accompanying state record in his last chance, to runner-up titles for Gerber alone and with three co-horts, to Anna Sudbury’s gutsy 7th-place triple jump performance despite a stress fracture of the foot, Tomahawk rocked the WIAA State Meet at UW-LaCrosse.
“After an auspicious start to the meet on Friday, with most athletes not meeting their goals or expectations, Saturday was a complete turnaround for our team,” THS coach John Zuelsdorf said. “Our boys really came to perform on the final day and their results were outstanding.
“The final script for the day to end with a state title and a state record for Matt was a fitting end to an awesome career. With four straight state appearances with three runner-up individual finishes, six sectional titles, thirteen first-team (T & F) All-Conference honors and two individual school records and to be part of two relay school records speaks volumes of his success as a Hatchet trackster.”
Largely due to his efforts, the Hatchets racked up 26 points, good for fourth place for D2 boys.
Gerber felt some disappointment after placing second to Racine St. Catherine’s Mike Miller for the second consecutive year in the 100M dash-this time by a mere 3/100ths of a second. Gerber-who will run for the UW Badgers along with Miller next year-was clocked in :10.88 after qualifying fifth in :11.41.
But elation followed the second-place finish of the 400M relay that included senior Travis Spaeth, and juniors Dan Galloy and Eddie Yirsa, especially since THS was seeded 7th entering the state meet and the West Salem winners ran state-record fast. The squad set back-to-back THS records of :43.33 and :43.20 in placing second in both the prelims and finals.
“(They) all had sub-11 second splits in the record-breaking performance, for the first time collectively this season,” Zuelsdorf said.
Still, two more titles had eluded Gerber and his only shot remained in the 200 where he came in to the meet as the top seed but qualified just eighth on Friday in :23.06. That put him in one of the worst lanes, the outside #9 where he would have no view of his competition until the corner was done.
So Gerber put his head down, and blasted to the finish in :21.40, crushing the 2002 mark of :21.65 set by Dominican’s Demi Omole along with his school-record :21.69. That was the quickest time in any division in the 200 this year.
“I didn’t feel like I could run that fast,” he said. “My legs had a little surprise for me.
“I just kept saying to myself, I just had to run my race. My times going into the meet showed if I ran my race I should get it. I was all by myself. I didn’t really get a feel for where anyone was until the curve ended and I could see I was in good shape. I knew I had the speed to close it out.”
The 400M team ran a school mark :43.20 to trail West Salem’s :42.28, but to THS, second was more than palatable.
“To see those senior boys in their final meet, including two underclassmen put together a record-setting performance in a runner-up finish in the relay was a testament to not only their collective talents, but their focus and determination through the tournament series,” Zuelsdorf said.
Junior Anna Sudbury picked up seventh-place points in the triple jump with a 35′ .75″ leap. She was just 1.75″ from the podium (top six) and 6.5″ out of 4th.
“Anna displayed a lot of courage jumping on a severely injured foot, and her leap was less than 2″ from making the podium in her specialty,” Zuelsdorf said. “Anna accounted for the lone Lady Hatchet points in the state meet over the 2-day event.”
Twin Rachel Sudbury ran the 800M in 2:24.03, good for 14th place. Junior Kellan Flynn jumped 5′ 0″ to finish 11th. The 1600M relay team of Flynn, the Sudbury sisters and Marlee Kiander ranked 15th in 4:16.03.
Freshman Bryan Tomek placed 12th in the 1600M run in 4:28.21, the fastest 1600 meter run by any freshman in the state in any division this year.
“Bryan ran a personal best in the 1600 meter run, breaking 4:30 for the first time in his young career,” Zuelsdorf said. “Bryan also competed in the 800 meter run less than two hours later.”
Tomek ended up 16th in the 800M in 2:08.04.
Galloy also competed in the 100M, finishing 14th in :11.84.
“Although most of our underclassmen didn’t make the podium, once again the experience of competing on the BIG stage at state is something that each athlete can build on and come back hungry again next year with high aspirations and a pathway to achieve them,” Zuelsdorf said.

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