Bluejays battle weather, foes for memorable Otto

The MHS track teams rebounded from fifth-place finishes at last Tuesday’s Valley Relays all the way into the title seat in Friday’s Otto Bacher Invite. The girls pulled off their  first-place finish over last year’s state-champions from Edgar, while the boys put away nearest competitor Lakeland by more than 50 points.
The Hatchets also competed and ranked fourth for girls and fifth for boys.
“A tremendous effort and sportsmanship was displayed, despite drizzle and windy conditions,” MHS coach Bethany Martinovici said. “There were a number of performances that were fought with all the girls had. I couldn’t have been more pleased with the determination and fire in each and every one. They were in fierce competition with nine other teams and that continued from one race to the next.  
“They were able to build points together, race together, cheer together and compete together. The relationship the girls show one another on and off the track is incredible and each one of them had a part in the win.”
For the Bluejay boys, coach Kurt VandenHeuvel noted, “Before we headed out to the track, I told the guys that tonight they were going to pick a fight with second place. That meant for every individual who competed for Merrill had to have the focus and mindset that they could win their event. 
“Not only did we do that in numerous events, we had multiple athletes who scored and battled each other for first place! I would say the competitive edge of this group jumped up a few notches after this meet. Apparently the weather was not a factor for the eight athletes who received their personal bests at this meet.”
Both squads backed up wins with additional places. The boys went 1-2 in the long jump with Jake Anderson (20’ 8”) and Nick Peterson (19’ 8”), the triple jump with Anderson (41’ 9”) and Brandon Bartz (40’ 9”), and the 100 with Kriss Philipp (:11.47) and Lucas Lee (:11.79), as well as 1st and 3rd with Ethan Schneider (:41.64) and Bartz (:44.64) in the 300 ints. Anderson also won the 200 in :24.12.
The girls pulled a 1-2 in the TJ with Morgan Marnholtz (34’ 2”) and Ashley Berton (33’ 10”), and the discus with Renee Sladek (106’ 9”) and Berton (102’ 0”). Marnholtz (16’ 2”) and Berton (15’ 5”) rated 1st and 3rd in the LJ, 
Sladek won the SP by 4’ (38’ 5”) and Schneider took the 110 HH by almost two seconds (:15.80). Other titles came from the 800 (Nick Hoffmann, Peterson, Lee, Philipp, 1:33.49), 400 (Peterson, Butler, Lee, Philipp, :45.16), 1600 (Dalton Wilding, Bartz, Schneider, Thomas Grund, 3:36.39), and 1600 (Hannah Marrier, Lauren Hojan, Berton, Marnholtz, 4:23.64) relays. Also placing second were: Marrier (100 IH, :16.93/300 LH, :48.77); Christa Schleif (PV, 8’ 0”); Marnholtz (400, 1:01.72); the 400 rel. (Marrier, Kaitlin Berry, Kennedy Soderberg, Sladek, :54.12); Tyler Schmidt (D, 129’ 3.5”); Shuman (HJ, 5’ 10”); and Grund (400, :54.51).
Tomahawk’s Bryan Tomek pulled a double win in the 1600 (4:45.48) and 800 (2:06.66), the 400 team (Hanna Meyer, Emmy Larson, Emily Verkilen, Lauren Hilt, :53.97) was first, and runner-up spots came from Peter Pintens (PV, 12’ 6”), Ben Yirsa (110 HH, :17.60), Meyer (LJ, 15’ 11”), Dani Whiting (3200, 12:11.24) and the 1600  team (Kate Gaedtke, Hilt, Audrey Dichsen, Larson, 4:29.66).
“The transition outdoors has not been an easy one (last) week,” THS coach John Zuelsdorf said. “Both meets were a challenge for the athletes with high winds and cooler temperatures. We told them that it’s the athletes that are prepared best mentally to handle the changing conditions that are going to be successful. They must have listened as many had personal and seasonal bests throughout the week.
“We traveled with less than half of our squad to Merrill, taking only our top athletes that we thought had a good chance of scoring. This meet featured six D1 teams. We were able to score in all but six of the events that we entered, generally a solid outing for us.”
Thirds–Rylee Folz, M, HJ, 4’ 8”; Todd Grund, M, PV, 12’ 0”; Meyer, T, TJ, 32’ 9”/100, :13.39; Schmidt, M, SP, 44’ 11”; Schleif, 100 IH, :17:56; 3200, T, Whiting, Larson, Claire Kuehn, Talyn Jones, 10:58.73; 3200, M, T. Grund, Wilding, Carl Noland, Jagger Scholz, 8:59.97.
Team standings– Girls–Merrill 1154.5 Edgar 136, Marshfield 129, Tomahawk 79, Medford 71, Wausau East 61, Lakeland 48, Rhinelander 18, Three Lakes .5……Boys–Merrill 194, Lakeland 141, Antigo 74, Medford 69.5, Tomahawk 64, Edgar 63, Wausau East 51, Rhinelander 28, Three Lakes 9.5.
Valley Relays

Merrill competed well in both boys and girls meets, but the overall depth of the larger schools pushed them down to fifth.
The girls did rank within five points of third, while the boys were six out of fourth.
“The relays are a nice break from the traditional track meet where all the athletes in each event are working towards one place,” Martinovici said. “I had several performances that were top notch. Overall we had a decent night, but all know that our best performances didn’t happen. It will be an exciting rest of the season for us as all three teams battle for the third-place team standing.”
VandenHeuvel added, “The next challenge is that these athletes are just seeing the potential they have and they need to continue tapping into it, leaving the little mistakes behind, to even have a chance at state.”
The MHS girls won the 800 sprint medley (Marrier, Berry, Sladek, Soderberg) and TJ (Marnholtz, Berton, Hojan), were 2nd in the 300 shuttle hurdles (Marrier, Schleif, Berton) and HJ (Folz, Hojan, McKenna Folz), and rated 3rd in the D (Sladek, Aubrey Wardall, Berton) and 400 (Marrier, Berry, Sladek, Soderberg).
The boys ranked 2nd in the LJ (Anderson, Peterws, Butler) and TJ (Anderson, Bartz, Shuman) and placed 3rd in the SP and D (Schmidt, Cole Rajek, Sam Skic), and 400 (Bulter, Peterson, Lee, Philipp).
Team standings– Girls– Wausau West 135, Stevens Point 113, D.C. Everest 75½, Marshfield 71½, Merrill 71, Wausau East 42, Wis. Rapids Lincoln 31…….Boys– Stevens Point 123, D.C. Everest 117, Wausau West 103, Marshfield 69, Merrill 63, Wis. Rapids Lincoln 40, Wausau East 27.
Three Lakes Invite

The Hatchets cruised over to Three Lakes for last Tuesday’s outdoor meet. N. Pines edged the girls by three points for second and the boys were fourth. Wausau Newman and Pines went 1-2 in both meets. 
“This facility is a little gem in the north woods. It’s nice to see them hosting meets again, after a 5-6 year hiatus,” Zuelsdorf said. “We competed with our whole boy’s squad, but rested a few of our girls in preparation for the overload they were getting in Merrill on Friday.”
Champions for Tomahawk were: Bryan Tomek (3200, 400); Alex Zedler (1600); the 3200 relay (Troy VanStrydonk, Tyler Wittmann, Jacob McGuire, Kyle Klopatek). 
Runner-up efforts came from: Jenna Schade (SP); Talyn Jones (3200); Michaela Galganski (PV); Kyle Klopatek (3200); Ben Yirsa (300 ints.).

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