CORNELL — Lake Holcombe’s Jyle Jones and Tyler Mataczynski and Cornell’s Thomas Sippy and Travis Anderson refuse to let the six miles that separates them separate them.
As do their teammates.
The quartet has been the driving force behind what has been an overwhelmingly successful season for the first-year Lake Holcombe/Cornell track and field co-op.
The boys team has already won four invitational meets and the girls team won the Winter Invite on May 3. The win was the first for a Cornell girls track team in five years and the first for a Lake Holcombe girls track team in about 30 years.
“We knew (this level of success) was possible, probably not this high,” Lake Holcombe/Cornell co-head coach Jacob Ebner said. “We were probably anticipating second or third in conference.”
“It surprised me that they were doing that well and being able to work that well together,” Lake Holcombe/Cornell co-head coach Tim Sime said about his team’s success. “It’s been very nice. Very nice.”
The expectations for the team changed after the boys team took first at the Ladysmith Invite on April 10. After that, the coaches knew they had something special on their hands.
“We didn’t run anyone in the two-mile or 4X400, we left early,” Ebner said. “He (Sime) opened the Chippewa Herald the next day and saw we won. I got the results, we were going through just looking at athletes and got to the bottom and found out we won. We thought if we just start loading up all our races, we have a pretty good team here.”
But the success in the boys team is evident in the balance that Jones, Mataczynski, Sippy and Anderson provide.
“We knew we were going to do good from the beginning,” Mataczynski said. “But it was kind of a shock when we’re winning these meets. We used to be last and not doing really good. To hear our name (in) first place is a pretty good feeling.”
Jones does his work for the team in the throw events, Mataczynski competes in the hurdles, Anderson is a fixture in the jump contests as well as shorter races and Sippy runs in the distance races. Combined they are the cornerstones of a team that has the ability to score points in any event, something Anderson said he thought would happen when the teams combined.
“I knew we had Jyle who could come over here and throw and get us points,” Anderson said. We have Maz (Mataczynski) who can win us points in the hurdles. Being able to compete more as a team is pretty exciting.”
All four have tasted victory for Lake Holcombe/Cornell on more than one occasion this year.
Track and field, along with wrestling this past winter and baseball this spring, have combined with Lake Holcombe and Cornell, creating a situation that was awkward at first with athletes from different schools. But now that difference is nonexistent among the team.
“Everybody thinks of us as a rival,” Jones said. “Everybody gets along on the team just fine.”
“If anything it helps us get better,” Anderson added.
They echoed that the increase in overall numbers with the co-op leads to better competition at practice, which helps them become better at the meets.
“We have people that can fill in (if needed) and still do pretty good,” Sippy said.
Ebner came over as the Cornell head coach last year before the teams and coaches co-oped this year. Even when they are not at practice, Sime said he’s heard stories about his athletes putting in extra time honing their skills.
“A person told me a story the other day, he (the person) was out fishing and he looked out in a field and he saw Jyle throwing the discus out in the field,” Sime said. “So you know what kind of kids they are.”
The team said they have goals in place both this week and ahead for the rest of the year. For Tuesday’s Lakeland Conference meet at Flambeau, they said they want to win and knock some of the yearly contenders such as Flambeau off their perch.
Jones mentioned that he’d never been a part of a team that has won a conference title.
“It would be nice,” Jones said.
But beyond going as far as they can as a team, Anderson mentioned that he’d like to see Sippy, Jones and Mataczynski make a run to the state and be able to watch them compete in La Crosse.
“I’m hoping I can watch these three, Thomas, Jyle and Maz running, it would be nice to see Jyle throwing down at state,” Anderson said. “After them paying their dues the past three years, it would be nice to see them get down to the big stage.”
Ebner said the girls team could soon follow in the guys footsteps as far as making the leap to the top-tier of the Lakeland Conference. But for this year, it has been a successful first season that has helped to bridge the Lake Holcombe and Cornell communities.
“We have two communities that were, and in some sports still are pretty good rivals,” Ebner said. “But now you have two communities backing one team.”