Ben Gauger/Lakeland Times

Mercer’s Sydney Thompson throws the shot put during the WIAA state track meet at UW-La Crosse on Friday, June 2. Thompson retained her D3 state title.
Ben Gauger/Lakeland Times

Mercer’s Sydney Thompson throws the shot put during the WIAA state track meet at UW-La Crosse on Friday, June 2. Thompson retained her D3 state title.
What's better than defending a state title? Defending it along with adding a new one.

That's what Mercer's Sydney Thompson did this weekend at the WIAA state track and field meet at UW-La Crosse.

Last year's Division 3 shot put champion Thompson retained her title with a throw of 44 feet, 8 and three quarter inches to beat out Katelyn Williams of Algoma, who threw 40 feet, 2 and a quarter inches.

Thompson said trying to retain her title was a different experience.

"I mean, it's very hard coming into a competition knowing that your title could be taken away," she said.

Unlike many state title runs, Thompson said she knew she'd made it before the competition even wrapped up.

"The first flight, it was some good series, 43, 42," she said. "But then once I hit the second flight when I had the 44's I was like 'this is it.' So very exciting."

What Thompson found as the biggest difference from last year's title was the mental aspect.

"I mean as you saw another girl today, she was ranked second and didn't even make the finals," she said. "It's just all mental. You just have to keep a positive attitude, don't get yourself too stressed out."

While the defense was challenging, Thompson said the first title was even harder to achieve.

"Last year for me, the first time was way more difficult because you just see the potential," she said. "And you're like 'I have the potential to do this.' And then I did it. So this year it was like 'I've done it once, I can do it again.'"



Discus title

In addition to a second shot put title, Thompson added the title which has eluded her the past few years: the D3 discus.

Thompson, who finished in second place the last few years, finally took the top spot, but not in a conventional way: a tie of 135 feet, 3 inches.

Throwing the same distance as Morgan Davister of Almoga, officials needed to look at the pairs second-best throws to decide the winner. Davister's throw went 130 feet, 8 inches, while Thompson's just topped hers at 130 feet, 10 inches to take the title.

"It's definitely something that I don't think anyone will forget," Thompson said. "That's probably one of the best track and field memories I'll ever have."

Regarding the tie - which was Thompson's second, tying in the shot put previously - Thompson said it made the moment more exciting.

"Even the field ref came up to me and said 'I've never seen anything like that happen before,'" she said. "It's something I'll never forget. It was definitely exciting."

Coming from Mercer, Thompson said she and all the other track athletes get tremendous support from the community.

"I love representing Mercer. And it's funny because none of the girls know where it's at," she said. "It's awesome being from a small school and I think it means more to the community having, it's not just me, it's Tyler and Aubrey, it's everyone. So I think it means a lot to the community that everyone's here."

As for which title means more, Thompson said the discus stands out.

"It definitely has," she said. "I think the best kinds of wins are the unexpected ones. It was actually really surprising, and I didn't know I actually won until the competition was over. It was super awesome."



Bianga, Schoeneman compete

Thompson wasn't the only Mercer competitor at the state tournament, as Tyler Bianga and Aubrey Schoeneman also qualified - both in the shot put.

Schoeneman was Mercer's only freshman to qualify and only the second during coach Bob Schenk's 40-year run.

Thowing a distance of 34 feet, 3 and a quarter inches, Schoeneman finished in 11th, just shy of making the finals of the event.

In the boys' shot, Bianga made the finals, placing in the top 10 at 9th. Bianga threw 48 feet, 6 and a half inches, shy of placing in the event.

Ben Gauger may be reached via email at bgauger@lakelandtimes.com.