The Osceola Invitational showed the Chieftains are the early favorites in the MBC, but that New Richmond, St. Croix Central and Somerset all are working to get in position to make their runs at a conference title. It's now less than a month to the conference meet, which will be held on Tuesday, May 14, at St. Croix Central.
The New Richmond boys finished second to Osceola last Tuesday, 1.5 points behind the Chieftains. The Tiger girls were second among the MBC teams in the meet, 18 points behind Osceola.
The Tiger boys had a number of top finishes on Tuesday. Jacob Parent won the 100-meter dash, Kennan Stowers the 400 and Joe Powers the 300 hurdles. Parent and Powers were joined by Payton Pohl and Joey Kidder in the winning 4x400 relay. The Tigers also took second place in eight events, showing they are capable of scoring well in nearly every event.
Among the other highlights for the boys was the pole vault, where Cayden Henning and Joe Charbonneau both cleared 11 feet. The boys scored in every track event and were top four in all events but one.
The Tiger girls only earned two event titles, but they had top finishers in nearly every event. The Tigers' first victory came in the 4x200 relay, where Emma McVitty, Maggie Bau, Abrianna Utgaard and Abbie Montreal teamed up to edge Somerset by two-hundredths of a second. The Tigers were also winners in the 4x800 relay, where the distance crew of Kayla Harris, Colette Harrold, Barb Kling and Willa Rogers won by nine seconds over St. Croix Central.
For St. Croix Central, the girls know they have enough talent to compete for an MBC title. The boys still have some building to do. The Panther girls finished 12 points behind New Richmond, while Central's boys placed fifth in the meet.
The Panther girls were led by their distance runners. Senior Marie Hamlin was the champ in the 1,600 and 3,200 races. Central coach Ben Lamb said Hamlin was happy that the boys and girls were running together in the 3,200 so she'd have some runners to pace herself against. Mya Kizer was also a third place finisher in the 1,600.
Lamb said he saw good progress in the running events, led by Morgan Siler.
"She is becoming the sprint leader I know she can be," Lamb said. He said Kourtney Labeause also showed significant progress in the 400 and 4x400 relay.
The big news in the field events for the girls came in the shot put, where the Panthers had two freshman at 30 feet or beyond. Katie Larson took second place at 35 feet, 1 inch and Sydney Burgess reached 30 feet.
Jenna Rogan was another highlight from the field events, placing third in the high jump.
Lamb said the meet was an eye opener for the boys team, showing it has work ahead to become more competitive. The only win for the Panther boys on the track came in the 4x200 relay, where Austin Kopacz, Trevor Kopacz, Gabe Siler and Jacob Murtha edged out New Richmond for the title. Senior Joe Hueg had an excellent showing in the throws, winning the discus event with a distance of 130-5. He also had a personal best in the shot put at 46-4, taking second place.
Somerset's teams came out of Tuesday's meet encouraged. The Spartan boys ranked third and the girls placed fifth, which was good progress for a team that young.
Senior James Schachtner provided the surprise of the night for the Spartans, placing third in the 200 in 23.85 seconds. Somerset coach Brandon Berrey estimated that it's been four years since Somerset has had a runner under 24 seconds in the 200.
Schachtner and Ty Madden also remained at the top of the results in the jump events. Schachtner won the triple jump at 40-10, with Madden in fifth place. Madden won the long jump at 19-7.75, with Schachtner in third place.
Berrey was encouraged by the results in the 800, where Ben Schmitt was a second place finisher and Jack Schottler made a huge cut in his time to place seventh.
Somerset's girls were led by Eve Goldstein, who won the shot put and placed second in the discus throw. The Spartan girls were second place finishers in the 4x100 and 4x200 relays, both finishing near the times they ran at regionals last year. Senior Keely Pitcher is finding her form, placing third in the 100.
Thursday's track meet at Prescott proved to be a dual purpose meet for the New Richmond teams. New Richmond won both halves of the five-team meet, but the way the Tigers won was the best result of the night.
Tiger boys coach Roger Reuvers said the results were better than the coaches had hoped. He said the progress of the young athletes on the team showed that the team has developed better depth than the coaches had anticipated. He said the meet also showed how well the team has bonded together. He used the boys 800 finish as an example. New Richmond's Max Blader and Andrew Kilibarda sprinted shoulder-to-shoulder down the stretch, with Blader edging Kilibarda by two-tenths of a second.
"The whole team was cheering like crazy for them," Reuvers said.
Blader was one of four individual winners for the Tiger boys. Chase Chairle in the 3,200, Powers in the 300 hurdles and Alex Jarchow in the triple jumps were also champs. Jarchow added to his freshman record that he broke in Tuesday's meet, clearing 40 feet for the first time in his career. Kennan Stowers also broke a freshman record on Tuesday, running the 400 in 52.95 to beat a record set by Tyler Cran in 2009.
Among the other important finishes for the boys was a second place effort from Anders Lemire in the discus throw and a second place effort from Joey Kidder in the 400. The Tigers had four of the top five finishers in the triple jump.
The veteran boys showed the value of the meet, earning wins in all four relays.
Reuvers said the depth that is developing on the team gives the coaches many more options. He said there are seven boys running 400s in 55 seconds or better and the same depth shows in the 200.
New Richmond's girls put more of their veteran athletes in open events and it led to seven wins, along with two more victories in relay events.
Rogers and Kling both won two events. Rogers won the 800 and 1,600, with Kling winning the 400 and triple jump. Addie Zinck won the 100 hurdles, Montreal the long jump and Harris the 3,200. The relay victories came in the 4x200 and 4x400.
The Tiger girls are also getting more girls placing higher in events. McVitty took second place in the 100 and Ashton Unruh was second in the high jump. The Tigers took three of the top five places in the 300 hurdles.
Tiger girls coach Judy Weiss said the team victory Thursday was secondary, with getting the younger athletes more experience being the primary goal. She said the drive shown by the younger girls, with McVitty being a prime example, is why the team making such steady progress.
"It's about getting kids the opportunity to compete and see how they improve. That's more important, finding the pieces we can put together at the end of the season," Weiss said.
This week is busy for MBC teams. New Richmond and Central will compete at the clash between the MBC and Big Rivers Conference teams on Tuesday at Eau Claire North. Central will also be sending half of its team to a meet at Baldwin-Woodville on Tuesday.
The New Richmond and Central teams will also see each other on Thursday in the Tigers' home meet. Somerset will also be in action, competing at Ellsworth.