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Boys track off and running

Wildcat senior John Maillette, second from left, breaks out of the starting blocks in his preliminary heat of the 55 meter dash Saturday at the Northern Badger Track and Field Classic in Menomonie. Maillette advanced with a time of 6.67 seconds, then won the finals with a school record time of 6.65. <i>Bob Burrows photos</i>

It didn't take long for the Wildcat boys' track and field team to launch an assault on the school record books this season.

The Cats set three new indoor school records on their way to tying Hudson for first place in the 14-team Large School division at the season-opening Northern Badger Classic Saturday, March 23 at Johnson Fieldhouse in Menomonie.

The Wildcats and Raiders both finished with 90 points at the meet while La Crosse Central was a distant third with 75. Anoka, Minn. was fourth with 59.5 and Somerset took fifth with 50.

Senior John Maillette had a hand in two new Wildcat records, winning the 55 meter dash in 6.65 seconds and teaming up with Brad Freeborn, John Helgeson and Josiah Harris for a first place time of 1 minute, 35.32 seconds in the 4 x 200 meter relay.

Senior Tiano Pupungatoa set the other school mark, in the shot put, with a second place throw of 51-feet, 11.5-inches. Hudson's Bryan Caffin was first with 55-10.75.

Maillette also helped the Cats pick up two of the top five places in both the 200 meter dash and long jump. In the 200, Freeborn took third in 23.9 seconds and Maillette was fifth in 24.14, while in the long jump, Tim Rixmann placed fourth with a leap of 19-8.5 and Maillette was fifth with 19-8.25. Rixmann also took sixth in the triple jump with a distance of 40-6.

The race of the day came in the 1600 meter run, where Wildcat teammates Trent Powell and Mitch Lenneman both came close to another school record. Powell won the race with a time of 4:25.24 while Lenneman was second in 4:25.32. Both were less than a half-second away from the school mark of 4:24.9 set by Keith Behrman in 2006.

Austin Lynum contributed a fifth place time of 55.78 seconds in the 400 meter dash, and Gabe Nelson was fifth in the 800 meter run in 2:10.23, while Jens Myklebust finished sixth in the pole vault with a height of 10-6.

Jackson Vanderhagen qualified for the finals in the 55 meter hurdles with the third fastest time in the preliminaries -- 8.62 seconds -- before placing eighth in the finals to contribute to the Cats' team total. Ben Klimpke also took eighth in the high jump by clearing 5-6.

Sterling Just finished just out of the scoring in the 800 meter run, placing ninth with a time of 2:13.21, while Max Haskins was ninth in the shot put with a throw of 41-11.5 and Helgeson finished 11th in the triple jump with a distance of 38-10.

Next up for the Wildcats is the All-American Invitational at UW-River Falls' Knowles Center, Saturday, April 6, beginning at 10 a.m.

Bob Burrows
Bob Burrows has been sports editor at the River Falls Journal since 1996 and at the Hudson Star-Observer since 2009. Prior to joining the Journal, Burrows served as sports editor with Ledger Publications in Balsam Lake, Wis. A native of Bayonne, N.J. and a U.S. Navy veteran, Burrows attended Marquette University before completing his studies at UW-River Falls in 1992.
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