/ Articles / Lakeland track and field wants to be the best again
A new season brings new opportunities for the Lakeland track and field team. The Thunderbirds will look to return individuals to state as well as make a run at conference.
To start with, there is a new coach at the helm. Gordy Drewsen takes over for Dan Claussen as the track and field coach. It is her first year as head coach. She’s spent three years as a track assistant and eight years as a cross country assistant.
“I’m excited,” she said. “I think it’s a good group of kids.”
Drewsen looks forward to bringing a conference title back to Lakeland.
“Winning conference is always the goal, get as many people to qualify to state,” she said.
The boys finished fourth a year ago with 105.5 points at the Great Northern Conference Meet on May 16. Rhinelander won the meet with 142 points.
“A new training plan this year will focus on speed,” Drewsen said. “We’re trying to match their workouts to their events so they can be successful.”
It was the first time in a long time the Thunderbirds hadn’t won conference. They had previously won the GNC every year dating back to at least 2014.
The Field Event Person of the Year in Vincent Strong is back for his senior season. His skill set includes both jumps as well as the 110 hurdles.
Strong won the 110 hurdles with a time of 16.18. He also won the long jump with a jump of 19-11 and a triple jump of 43-5 1/4. He qualified for state in the triple jump with a jump of 43-10 at the sectional meet in Mosinee on May 23. That jump broke the school record.
Another conference champion in Zach Hayes returns. He was the conference champion in the pole vault with a height of 12-06. He qualified for state where he tied for fourth with a height of 13-06.
“I think one thing to try is get everybody a personal record (PR) compared to last year, so we’re making progress,” Drewsen said.
The last of the conference champions, Tyler Wallschlaeger, returns to the sprinting scene. He won the 400 with a time of 51.37 and just missed qualifying for state in that event.
For throwers, Henry Evenhouse returns as a second team all-conference in discus and honorable mention in shot put. At conference, he threw the discus for a distance of 125-7. In the shot put, he threw it for a distance of 44-7 1/4. Look for him to be a contributing factor in the throws once again.
The girls finished third in the GNC a year ago with 101 points. Mosinee finished second with 161 points and Medford first with 188.
“I think last year I know for the girls we didn’t really focus on doubling kids,” Drewsen said. “We could have placed more kids in more events and done better. This year we will do that. That’s a goal. We want to win.”
The strength of the girls comes in their distance program. It all starts with conference champions Ashley Peterson and Aubrey Anderson.
Peterson won the 1600 with a time of 5:12.19 and Anderson the 800 with a time of 2:20.01.
At state, Peterson qualified in both the 1600 and 3200. She finished third in the 1600 with a time of 5:03.50 and fourth in the 3200 with a time of 11:15.16. After a successful cross country season, she is raring to go for her senior season.
Anderson qualified for state in the 800 where she placed fifth with a time of 2:17.75. She was also part of the 4x400 relay that qualified for state.
Mia Case, Riley Mauzer, Stephanie Mauzer and Anderson ran a time of 4:10.36, finishing 11th in preliminaries.
That wasn’t the only relay team Anderson was a part of that went to state. The 4x800 meter relay team qualified for state too, placing fifth and a spot on the podium with at time of 9:34.33, a new school record. Both Mauzers and Kate Melms joined her for the relay.
The girls’ 4x400 and 4x800 were both first and second team all-conference respectively.
Olivia Wingo is a girl who can do it all. Though she wasn’t a state qualifier, she finished second at conference in the 300 hurdles with a time of 51.61 and honorable mention in the triple jump with a jump of 31 1/4.
“I think Olivia (Wingo) is kind of a good all-around pole vaulter, hurdler, sprinter,” Drewsen said.
Wingo also competes in pole vault, where she’ll look to be one of the best in conference.
Both Stephanie and Riley Mauzer graduated last year, leaving a couple of spots open in the mid-distance events.
In addition to those returning who had conference and state recognition, the Thunderbirds look forward to working with everyone, helping everyone to be at their best.
“Workouts are not just for top people, (but) including everybody,” Drewsen said.
The season kicks off with an indoor invitational tonight starting at 4:15 p.m. Another highlight comes March 28 when Lakeland hosts another invitational, inviting teams like Chequamegon, Mercer, Stratford and Phillips.
On May 8, the Thunderbirds travel to Merrill for the Otto Bacher meet in Merrill. That’ll get them ready for the GNC meet on May 19 at Northland Pines, followed by regionals at Rhinelander on May 26 and sectionals on May 29.
If the Thunderbirds should have more state qualifiers this year, the meet will take place June 5 and 6 at the University of Wisconsin-La Crosse.
It all kicks off tonight with the Lakeland Invitational at the Lakeland fieldhouse. The meet is scheduled to start at 4:15 p.m.