A number of athletes on the Chi-Hi track and field teams are finding success early in the spring season.
Even as Mother Nature has limited the Cardinals and other track teams to a few indoor meets, Chi-Hi is quickly finding out it has a number of competitors that can be major players this season.
Second-year coach Becky Nette isn’t surprised by that. In fact, she has expected it.
“People are going to be surprised with certain individual athletes,” Nette said. “I think some people are going to really stick out and improve from last year. I think our underclassmen are going to stick out too just because of the numbers we have. We have a lot of them.”
Madelyn Hedrington (55-meter hurdles), Madison Helland (high jump) and JD Czech (shot put) each won titles at the Northern Badger Classic large schools competition last month in Menomonie.
Cade Meyer was victorious in the pole vault at the Big Rivers Conference relays recently at UW-Eau Claire. Hedrington followed up with a second-place finish in the same event and in the 200 hurdles at last Friday’s Packy Paquette Indoor Invitational in Superior. Mitchell Stelter took second in the boys 55 hurdles and third in the 200 hurdles. Ella Behling was runner-up in the 800 at the Paquette invite, as was Czech in the shot put, Sammie Riedel in the triple jump and Helland and Aaliyah McMillan in the high jump.
Sophomore Ty Wiberg took home state championships in the boys 1,600 and shot put wheelchair events en route to tying for a team state championship as a freshman. Senior Ally Lehmann has three state appearances under her belt, most recently taking third in the girls 100, 400, 800 and shot put wheelchair events in 2017.
Add to that the return of sectional qualifier in Katie Faris and many more and the Cardinals have several athletes to keep an eye on once outdoor competition gets underway throughout the spring.
Right now one of the biggest challenges for Nette and the coaching staff is finding ways to keep the kids training while being limited to indoors. With all of Chi-Hi’s spring sports teams still frozen out from outside practice, it’s made practice space even more valuable — wherever that may be.
“We’re really hounding technique and we’re trying to get as much of a good workout in as possible with the limited space we have,” Nette said. “We have to use the hallways, we have to share multiple events with the back gym. We have to use our space very efficiently and effectively.”
Nette has been impressed by the improvement shown by the team’s upperclassmen as well as the early results from the youngsters.
“I just want kids to have confidence in themselves and improve each meet,” Nette said. “I know they’re going to have tougher meets than others where things aren’t going to go their way. I want them to be resilient and learn and grow with each meet. They’ve got to understand sometimes it’s not going to go as planned and they need to figure out how to make it work for next time.”
Chi-Hi’s annual varsity triangular with Eau Claire North and Memorial was bumped back one week to Tuesday, April 17 while other events at Eau Claire North (April 24) and the Big Rivers Conference meet in Menomonie (May 15) will be Cardinal fans’ best chance to see their team close to home.