COLFAX — Eric Nedland just kept raising the bar.
The Lake Holcombe/Cornell senior punched his ticket to his second consecutive state track and field meet on Friday by winning the pole vault event at the WIAA Division 3 sectional meet.
Nedland won the title with a height of 12-feet, 6-inches and is the first sectional champion in the 4-year history of the Lake Holcombe/Cornell co-op. He’s also the first sectional champion in over a decade from either school. Nedland rose to the occasion on Friday, just as he’s done all year long. He entered the meet as the top seed with a height of 12-feet and has a regional and conference championship under his belt as well. Last year Nedland took third place as sectionals to advance to state.
He’s been a steady performer of the Knights over the past few years in hurdle events in addition to his work in the pole vault. He’s also served as a great mentor for freshman vaulter Dakota Popp, who finished in seventh place.
“For the other kids to see him work that hard in practice, they can see the light at the end of the tunnel,” Lake Holcombe/Cornell co-coach Jake Ebner said. “They see that we’re not doing all this for nothing, it’ll pay off in the end.”
The McDonell boys 3,200-meter relay team also advanced to state with a third-place finish. The Macks team of Zach Ruf, Ben Ruf, Isaac Bohaty and Sam Bleskachek give the program a team at state in the event for the ninth year in a row.
But the Macks had to work for it as Bleskachek battled to qualify as a part of a furious flurry to the finish with five teams for the four spots, all separated by fewer than three seconds.
Julia Verbick took second place in the 3,200 in 12:14.06 to lead all Macks finishers. The boys 400 relay topped its own school record on its way to a third-place finish with Lance Schoch, Stephen Ortmann, Jake Bowe and Jake Horan (45.36).
Bohaty also advanced individually in the 3,200, finishing with a career-best time in 10:15.78. The Macks also had a few athletes and teams just miss out with Bleskachek taking fifth in the 800 and the 1,600 team of Ortmann, Zach Ruf, Ben Ruf and Bleskachek taking fifth. Abby Klimek (800) and Rachel Ohde (high jump) each took seventh while the Macks girls 1,600 relay of Paige McCabe, Emily Krause, Olivia Parkhurst and Klimek finished 12th, running a personal-best time with a group of underclassmen still new to the event.
The Cadott Hornets will have no shortage of athletes heading to La Crosse, including another set of strong performances by Ben and Elizabeth Kyes.
Elizabeth scored three sectionals championships, winning in the 400 (58.09), triple jump (34-8) and 800 (2:27.31) as well as being a part of the 1,600 relay with Charlene Holte, Cailin Rineck and Kayla Dubiel that finished third (4:19.31). Ben Kyes won both the 110 (15.40) and 300 hurdles (41.30), took third in the triple jump (41-5½) and was a part of the 1,600 relay with Tyler Gillett, Garrett Roth and Brandon Pederson that finished fourth.
Holte was runner-up in the 100 hurdles (16.77), Gillett finished second in the 800 (2:03.33) and Pederson was fourth in the 400 (52.32).
Nedland was the lone Knights athlete to advance to state with the girls 1,600 relay team of Isabelle Dixon, Kierra Walters, Thia Moreen and Jordan Geist taking sixth.
Eau Claire Regis won the girls team championship with 73 points with Cadott fourth (53.33), McDonell 20th (12) and Lake Holcombe/Cornell 28th (3). Athens took home the boys title with 56 points as Cadott (44) was fifth, McDonell was 14th (25) and Lake Holcombe/Cornell finished tied for 21st (12).