All season both LUHS track teams had worked toward one goal: Great Northern Conference champions. The Thunderbirds have won so many of them – four of them in a row – that goal has become a legacy handed down from one squad to the next.
Last Tuesday at the GNC meet at Medford, the boys made it five in a row while the injury-plagued girls’ squad finished third, two-and-a-half points behind second place Medford. In the combined team score, Medford was a 65-point second behind the champion T-Birds.
“The guys were exceptional. We performed according to our seeds,” boys’ coach Kevin FitzPatrick said. “We always tell the guys that we will outperform every team there and we will outperform our seeds, and they did. I keep a chart of where we are ranked and how well we perform, and going in, we were ahead in all but two events. In one event we took a chance on a kid hoping he would score big and the other was where an athlete missed an event due to some miscommunication with an official.”
And FitzPatrick has gotten good at making sure the Thunderbirds peak at the right time.
“We always tell our kids that if you follow the plan, you will have your best performances in the next two weeks; you will PR at conference and you will run faster at regionals and sectionals,” he said. “They bought into that and we are seeing it happen. We know teams that won’t perform well at conference and I think other teams know we will perform well at conference.”
And once again, the plan worked to perfection with many members of the team turning in personal records at Medford.
“I would say that three-quarters of the team had PRs,” FitzPatrick said. “Big PRs coming in the pole vault, Frank Scandin PR’ed by a foot-and-a-half. He actually opened up at his (season) PR and he went a foot-and-a-half higher and took third. Our guys in the 100 and 200 PR’ed, both hurdlers PR’ed, it was all over the place.”
Even the girls’ team, who only had 17 competitors able to compete, joined in on the PR parade, said coach Gary Kmiecik.
“The girls really stepped up, they did an unbelievable job,” he said. “I told them the next day at practice that if they had won it, I wouldn’t have been prouder than I was of them taking third. It was an unbelievable effort on their part.”
How banged up was the girls’ squad?
In many events, Lakeland could only field one entrant so how well everyone did in individual standings in events also added team points if they finished in the top 10. One only has to look at how well the boys’ did by having enough good competitors in every event and raking in the team to see how well that works.
“What killed us was the 100, 200, the 100 hurdles and the 300 hurdles,” Kmiecik said. “We had nobody who scored points in those. On the other hand, we did really well in the middle distance and distance events.”
In the field events, where only one or two girls competed, they also did well. Emilee Oldenburg took a second in the triple jump, a third in the high jump and fourth in the long jump. Isabelle Johnson and Mckayla Hayes scored fourth and ninth in the pole vault, Ellie Ottoson took first in the shot put and second in the discus, and Emily Kubisiak took fifth and six in the same events.
Of all the girls out with injuries, one such multi-event standout probably hurt the most because of the team points she provided.
“If Kayela Carroll hadn’t broken her leg, she probably would have won the pole vault. She’s a 15’ 6” long jumper and 15’ 1” won it,” Kmiecik said. “She qualified last year at the conference meet in both the 100 and 200 and took sixth in both. She would have been responsible for 26 points and we lost by 18. I never thought it was going to be that close.”
Going into the regionals at Wausau West today (May 27), both coaches are realistic about how well their teams will do. The top four finishers in each event in regionals advance to the sectionals. From there, the top three in each event move on to state.
“It’s going to be tough, not even a dog fight. We’re going to be scraping for everything we can get. We are a strong team for our conference, but we are not as strong a team in the state as we have been in the past,” FitzPatrick said. “We’re hopeful that we can get some individuals and relays through, what happens beyond that, maybe a chance to get someone to state, nothing is a lock like it has been in previous years. Let’s just get the kids running their best and hope for some lucky opportunities.”
Kmiecik said making it out of the sectional will be difficult with all the Wisconsin Valley Conference schools and those other larger Division I schools feeding out of the other regionals.
“We have a few kids who might make it to sectionals,” he said. “We have Ellie Ottoson who has a shot in the shot put. Then Lauren (Schilling) and Nicole (Gilman) and maybe the 4x800 meter relay team.”
FitzPatrick also said the fact that Lakeland is ranked as a Division I school and therefore has to compete against much bigger schools also handicaps the T-Birds at the regional level.
“We happen to be in a Division I sectional. It’s based on last year’s enrollment. This year our school is the smallest it’s been in probably the last 10 years. We should be a solid Division II school, but because it’s based on last year’s enrollment, we’re the smallest Division I school in the state,” he said.
Until next year when the school will be placed in Division II, FitzPatrick said the steady approach he has used for years will be the path he guides the team along.
“Our whole focus all year is to win a conference title,” FitzPatrick said. “Unlike a baseball team or a football team where those wins and losses are huge throughout the season, how we perform in meets as a team is not as big until it comes time for the conference and we put it all together. That’s when it pays off.”
FitzPatrick also wanted to thank the effort of assistant coaches Aubrey Hoye, Tim Kennedy, Greg Eichelkraut, John Katz, Rick Goff and Eric Bieszk for all the extra work they put in this year getting both T-Bird squads firing on all cylinders.
“I really, truly believe we have the best assistant coaches in the conference. Those guys are the best and I trust them implicitly,” he said.
Jamie Taylor may be reached at email@example.com.
Great Northern Conference
Medford High School
May 20, 2014
KEY: P=Preliminary Heat, F= Final
Girls’ Varsity Team Results
1. Tomahawk 147, 2. Medford 130.5, 3. Lakeland 128, 4. Mosinee 119.5 5. Northland Pines 85, 6. Rhinelander 46, 7. Antigo 38.
Boys’ Varsity Team Results
1. Lakeland 168.83, 2. Mosinee 108.33, 3. Northland Pines 100.33, 4. Medford 100. 5. Antigo 97.5, 6. Tomahawk 73, 7. Rhinelander 50.
Combined Team Results
1. Lakeland 296.83, 2. Medford 230.5, 3. Mosinee 227.83, 4. Tomahawk 220. 5. Northland Pines 185.33, 6. Antigo 135.5, 7. Rhinelander 96.
Girls 100 meter dash
Lindsey Whitman 9th 14.18 (P); Megan Chen 12th 14.9 (P); Rachel Heil 14th 15.82 (P).
Girls 200 meter dash
Julia Malicki 8th 29.77 (P) 8th 29.79 (F); Payge Barnard 14th 31.35 (P)
Girls 400 meter dash
Sophie Annis 4th 1:05.92; Julia Malicki 5th 1:06.43.
Girls 800 meter run
Lauren Schilling 1st 2:36.67; Stephanie Balas 2nd 2:35.73.
Girls 1600 meter run
Nicole Gilman 1st 5:30.41; Megan Vogelsang 10th 7:17.13.
Girls 3200 meter run
Nicole Gilman 1st 12:49.10; Lauren Schilling 2nd 12:58.94; Ave’ Peters 11th 15:31.14.
Girls 100 meter hurdles
Isabelle Johnson 13th 21.94 (P); Kayla Gebert 14th 23.90 (P).
Girls 300 meter hurdles
Kayla Gebert 11th 1:04.36; Isabelle Johnson 13th 1:04.88.
Girls 4x100 meter relay
Team of Payge Barnard, Emilee Oldenburg, Eliana Ottoson and Edie Africano 5th 56.61.
Girls 4x200 meter relay
Team of Payge Barnard, Emily Kubisiak, Megan Chen, and Edie Africano 5th 2:02.35.
Girls 4x400 meter relay
Team of Lauren Schilling, Stephanie Balas, Nicole Gilman and Julia Malicki, 1st 4:32.66.
Girls 4x800 meter relay
Team of Lauren Schilling, Stephanie Balas, Nicole Gilman and Julia Malicki 1st, 10:32.84.
Girls high jump
Emilee Oldenburg 3rd 4’6”.
Girls pole vault
Isabelle Johnson 4th 7’6”; Mckayla Hayes 9th 7’.
Girls long jump
Emilee Oldenburg 4th 13’3”.
Girls triple jump
Emilee Oldenburg 2nd 32’11.5”.
Girls shot put
Ellie Ottoson 1st 34’6”; Emily Kubisiak 5th 30’5.5”.
Ellie Ottoson 2nd 85’3”; Emily Kubisiak 6th 67’ 8”.
Boys 100 meter dash
Sam Jaeger, 1st 11.43 (P) 1st 11.34 (F).
Boys 200 meter dash
Sam Jaeger, 1st 23.29 (P) 3rd 23.79 (F); Spencer Sutton 2nd 23.56 (P) 1st 23.28 (F); Thomas Bruckner 7th 24.47 (P) 7th 24.69 (F); Daryl Goodreau 10th 25.76.
Boys 400 meter dash
Andrew Schilling 3rd 2:06.27; Caleb Anderson 4th 2:06.41; William Bodewes 6th 2:08.23.
Boys 800 meter run
Andrew Schilling 3rd 2:06.27; Caleb Anderson 4th 2:06.4; William Bodewes 7th 2:08.23.
Boys 1600 meter run
Andrew Schilling 3rd 4:49.89; Mackinley FitzPatrick 5th 4:53.49.
Boys 3200 meter run
William Bodewes 2nd 10:39.47; Andrew Schilling 3rd 11:00.23; Luke Bodewes 5th 11:19.69.
Boys 110 meter hurdles
Brenden Emmerich 6th 18.12 (P) 6th 17.88 (F); Zach Nimsgern 7th 18.30 (P) 7th 18.11 (F).
Boys 300 meter hurdles
Brenden Emmerich 2nd 45.17.
Boys 4x100 meter relay
Team of Daryl Goodreau, Matthew Schlichter, Frank Scandin and Brandon Van Goethem 3rd 46.89.
Boys 4x200 meter relay
Team of Sam Jaeger, Matthew Schlichter, Daryl Goodreau and Frank Scandin, 2nd 1:36.19.
Boys 4x400 meter relay
Team of Caleb Anderson, William Bodewes, Mackinley FitzPatrick and Max Wohlleber 2nd 8:38.62.
Boys high jump
Thomas Bruckner, 2nd 5’8”; Caleb Anderson 5th 5’6”.
Boys pole vault
Frank Scandin 3rd 12’6”.
Boys long jump
Brandon Van Goethem 3rd 19’; Matthew Schlichter 7th 17’ 5.25”.
Boys triple jump
Thomas Bruckner, 1st 41’ 4.25”; Sam Jaeger 6th 37’ 3.25”.
Boys shot put
Sam Furhman 4th 43’ 11.5”; Logan Allen 5th 41’6”.
Sam Furhman 5th 111’7”; Logan Allen 9th 98’.07”.