Track and Field: Wildcats punch multiple tickets to state
Jared Creen and Sofia Naranjo Mata both qualified for state in four events to headline a list of 22 athletes in 11 different events who qualified for state at the WIAA Division 1 Track and Field Sectional Thursday, May 23, at D.C. Everest High School in Schofield.
Stefan Klechefski and Mason Shea won individual titles and the boys’ 4x100, 4x200 and 4x400 relay teams won sectional championships along with the girls’ 4x100 squad. All four boys’ relay teams advanced to state along with two for the Wildcat girls.
Klechefski and Creen both set wind-aided school records in the 100 meter dash to finish one-two, with Klechefski crossing the finish line in 11.16 seconds and Creen in 11.26.
Creen, Karl Linton, Mason Prigge and Klechefski teamed up for a first place time of 43.3 seconds in the 4x100 relay, and Creen, Linton, Klechefski and Nate Rixmann won the 4x200 in 1 minute, 30.42 seconds.
“We had solid passes in both of those relays and it showed in the times we ran and how we finished in the races,” Wildcat boys’ coach Keven Syverson said. “We had good lead offs from Jared Creen in both of these which put us in good position.”
The Cats will be sending a boys’ 4x400 meter relay team to state for the first time in three years after Payton Flood, Jared Syverson, Joshua Linton and Niko Zoller teamed up for a first place time of 3:26.44.
“Payton Flood had a strong lead off leg and Jared Syverson came down the stretch leading and handed off to Josh Linton, who battled with a couple runners but was able to hand off to Niko Zoller with a slight lead and Niko brought it home,” Coach Syverson said.
River Falls will have a boys’ 4x800 meter relay team at state for the fourth straight season after Syverson, Grant Magnuson, Joshua Linton and Mason Shea combined for a third place time of 8:15.59.
Shea came back strong after anchoring the 4x800 to win the 1600 meter with a time of 4:31.51. Flood and Zoller also both qualified in the 400 dash for the second straight year with second and third place times of 51.05 and 51.49 seconds, respectively.
The girls’ lone sectional title came in the 4x100 relay, where Emily Banitt, Rachel Randleman, Madison Grundstrom and Sarah Langlois combined for a winning time of 49.53 seconds. The 4x200 team of Langlois, Banitt, Randleman and Naranjo Mata also advanced with a second place time of 1:45.31.
In addition to running the 4x200 and serving as an alternate on the 4x100 team, Naranjo Mata also qualified for return trips to state in the triple jump with a second place leap of 35-feet, 7.25 inches, and the 100 dash with a third place time of 12.26 seconds.
“Sofia had a tremendous meet, advancing in all four events,” girls’ coach Kristi Wagner said. “She has a terrific shot at scoring.”
While the girls’ 4x400 relay team was denied a state berth for the first time in six years, Wagner said she’s optimistic about the 4x100 and 4x200 teams’ chances.
“Though not advancing in the 4x4 is tough, perhaps there is an exciting opportunity awaiting for us,” she said. “We are currently sitting at sixth in the (state) in the 4x100, and have an opportunity in the 4x200. Having no 4x4 will make it easier to dial in on these short, fast relays. We remain optimistic; looking to make something special happen.”
Wagner said it’s a fun time of year for the Cats.
“Seeing the kids get excited, rally, and really pull together is great,” she said. “The culture among our team is fantastic; it is contagious.”