Tuesday marks the start of the 2015 WIAA track and field postseason with prep teams from around the state starting regional competition, looking to work their way to sectionals and to the state track and field meet on June 5-6 at UW-La Crosse.
Chippewa County has plenty of athletes that look to make some postseason noise in a variety of events.
Where do you start with the Cardinals? Chi-Hi had a number of strong performances at the Big Rivers Conference meet on Tuesday and has several athletes that could get to La Crosse. Senior Elli Daniels has advanced to state in five different events in her high school career prior to this season and will look for number six in the 800-meter run, an event where her best time (2:18.46) ranks among the top-10 best statewide in the most recent Wisconsin Track Online state honor roll. Senior Stephanie Sawicki set a school record in the 100 on Tuesday on her way to a conference title and is within striking distance of Chi-Hi's 200 school record. She also qualified for state last year in the high jump and is a threat to leap her way to La Crosse again this year.
Relays have been a strength for the Chi-Hi girls team in recent years and 2015 appears to be no exception as the 1,600 and 3,200 relays look to break school records and make another trip to state. Freshman Ally Lehmann is Chi-Hi's first wheelchair athlete competing and has competed in the 100, 400 and shot put events.
The boys 1,600 relay team of Alex Kulzer, Kole Mewhorter, Aaron Knez and Kyle Webb won a conference championship on Tuesday with a conference meet record time (3:25.52) and are fewer than two seconds away from the school record. The Cardinals boast a strong group of sprinters, mid-distance and distance runners, including Braeden Michael who grabbed a 3,200 conference championship.
Kulzer is also a threat in the hurdles events where he won the 300 (40.49) and took fourth in the 110 at the conference meet. Knez also is a contender in the high jump, registering the highest mark on the county honor roll so far this season.
The Macks return their usual depth in distance events with some talented competitors sprinkled in at other places.
The McDonell boys 3,200 relay rolled to a conference title (8:53.45). The program is vying to send a relay team to state in the event for the ninth season in a row. The 400 relay set a school record earlier in the season and is highly seeded for regionals.
Individually Isaac Bohaty (3,200, high jump), Julia Verbick (3,200), Eric Ohde (high jump), Rachel Ohde (high jump) and Lance Schoch (100) are seeded well and should contend. Verbick finished 13th at state last year in the 3,200.
The McDonell boys team is the defending Division 3 state champion.
The Blackhawks bring highly-seeded 1,600 and 3,200 relays into the postseason to go with some talented individual competitors.
Kyra Arendt ranks highly in the triple jump and long jump and is also competing in the 400, an event she finished 13th place in at state last season and won a Heart O'North Conference championship in last Tuesday. Kendall Zeman will look to continue a sensational freshman season in the 800 and 1,600, an event she is seeded at the top of the charts in. Zeman won conference titles in both events. Alecia Waring took first in the 3,200 at the HON meet and Justyne Burgess was second in the 300 hurdles.
Jarrod Kressin checks in fifth in the most recent county honor roll in the 200 while Isaiah Meinen is third in the 300 hurdles. Ryan Ratcliff is in the top-5 on the honor roll in both the shot put and discus.
The Hornets are led by a brother-sister combination that made a mark at Tuesday's Western Cloverbelt Conference meet in Cadott. Ben and Elizabeth Kyes each were a part of three conference championships with Ben setting a conference meet record on his way to victory in the 110 hurdles and Elizabeth breaking the record in the 400 dash (58.91). Ben won the 110 (15.18) and 300 (41.16) hurdles and was a part of the Cadott 1,600 relay (3:38.87) and took second place in the triple jump. Elizabeth won the 400 (58.91), 800 (2:28.73) and triple jump (34-6.5).
Garrett Janicki has the best reported distance of the regular season among Chippewa County athletes in the shot put (44-3) and the Hornets have a pair of hurdlers (Charlene Holte and Rachel Manier) that are on the county honor roll in the 100 hurdles. The girls 400 relay finished in second place at the conference meet.
The Orioles are strong again in their normal events, including a quartet of girls to keep an eye on. Freshman Allison Vitort is under two seconds from the school record in the 800 and took third place in the event at the Western Cloverbelt Conference meet. Heather Milas has been firmly fixed at the top of the charts all season long in the shot put and discus events and is looking to make her second trip to state in the latter after taking eighth last year.
Peyton McCauley advanced to state in both hurdles events in 2014 and has made the trip twice in the 300 hurdles. She was second in the 100 hurdles at the conference meet. Kirsten Carrigan owns the county's top reported girls pole vault height (9-0) and won a conference championship this year.
Brian Koch owns the top reported pole vault height in the county so far this season (13-3). He and Bryce France had a 1-2 Orioles finish in the event at the conference meet.
The Knights are fresh off a team title sweep at the East Lakeland Conference meet and are poised for a strong showing.
Jordan Geist (100), Danielle Gygi (high jump), Gretchen Schroeder (pole vault), Elizabeth Sproul (shot put) and Courtney Lundmark (discus) rank among the top competitors in the most recent county honor roll and the 1,600 relay boasts a mix of experience and youthful talent. Eric Nedland was LH/C's state qualifier last year in the pole vault and ranks in the top-5 for county athletes thus far. Colton Hetke (300 hurdles, high jump), Andrew Brostad (shot put), Matt Nedland (800) and the boys 1,600 relay should also contend.
Brandon Hilger put together a strong effort in the 1,600 at Tuesday's East Lakeland Conference meet and looks to be a threat to advance in the 1,600 and 3,200 runs. Austin North ran strongly at the conference meet as well, coming home in second place in the 100. The Trojans boys boast some strong relays teams that will be tested with good regional competition from teams such as McDonell, Eau Claire Regis and Fall Creek.