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Benton freshmen mines two golds and one silver at state meet
Martensen 6-6-19
Benton/Scales Mound/Shullsburg freshman Kayci Martensen won the Division 3 girls 1,600 and 3,200 and finished second in the 800 over the weekend at the WIAA Track and Field State Championships in La Crosse. - photo by Photo by Tom Gunnell / Republican Journal

EDITOR'S NOTE: The Athlete of the Week is a web-only feature that will publish each Thursday throughout the calendar year.

Kayci Martensen, Fr., Benton/Scales Mound/Shullsburg girls track and field
    LA CROSSE — It was an event-filled weekend for the Benton/Scales Mound/Shullsburg track and field state qualifiers, and they came through with flying colors– gold and silver that is. Freshman Kayci Martensen found that winning a state title was such a great experience that she did it twice for the Lady Zephyrs, while junior Matt Davis had to win one event twice in order to bring a gold medal at the 2019 WIAA State Track and Field Meet held at UW-La Crosse’s Veterans Memorial Stadium on Friday, May 31, and Saturday, June 1.
     Martensen announced her presence with authority on Friday by running away with the Division 3 girls’ 1,600-meter run title with her winning time of 5:02.53– finishing nearly eight seconds ahead of defending champion Marissa Ellenbecker, a junior from Edgar, for her first state title.
     “I was really nervous before the race, but I was also confident because I have run faster times in the event this season,” said Martensen. “I was ready for it. I was pretty excited (winning it).”
     The Benton freshman nearly knocked off another defending state champion in the D3 800-meter run later in the day on Friday, but she came up just .23 of a second shy of catching Johnson Creek junior Hannah Constable, who captured her third 800 state title in a winning time of 2:14.84.      Martensen passed Fennimore sophomore Brynlee Nelson, who won the 800 sectional title ahead of the Zephyr at Bangor last week, down the final stretch to place second in personal-best time of 2:15.07, finishing ahead of Nelson in third at 215.54.
     “That was a tough race with a lot of tough competition. We all kind of pushed each other,” Martensen remarked.
     Back on the track on Saturday afternoon for the D3 3,200-meter run, Martensen pulled ahead of the pack from the opening gun and continued to put more and more distance between herself and the rest of the field for all eight laps as she ran away with her second state title in a personal-best time of 10:48.84, which was nearly 33 seconds faster than runner-up Rachel Lawton, a senior from Flambeau, and more than 35 seconds faster than defending champion Ellenbecker.
     “It’s a confidence booster for me. I’m already ready to come back here next year and do it again,” noted Martensen.
     It is the 11th consecutive year a D3 girl has swept the long distance race titles at the state meet, and the eighth year in a row it was a different runner who accomplished the feat.
     “Kayci has made such a huge jump as a runner since the cross country season,” said BSMS head coach Kent Miehe, referring to her third place individual finish at state cross country meet last fall. “It was always her going out in front because she didn’t want anyone else to catch her. And now, it has turned into her going out in front because she knows she’s a great runner and she has that confidence. She handled that so well at state. There are so few freshmen who are able to handle the pressure of a state meet, but she did it. It was really, really cool to see her do it.” 

HONORABLE MENTION (in alphabetical order):
Colin Austin, Sr., SS/P, Belmont baseball
     Austin went 11–for-15 with two doubles, a home run, eight RBI, seven runs scored and three stolen bases in four playoff games to help lead the Braves to their first trip to the WIAA Baseball State Tournament. Austin went 6-for-8 with a pair of doubles and five RBI in a pair of sectional wins Wednesday afternoon in Muscoda. The Belmont lead off hitter went a perfect 4-for-4 and drove in five runs in the Braves’ 14–1 five-inning victory over Bangor in the sectional final. He was 2-for-4 with a double and a run scored in a 6–2 sectional semifinal win over De Soto. Austin also went 2-for-3 with three runs and sturck out four to earn the save with 2 2/3 innings of solid relief in a Belmont’s 10–5 regional final victory over Highland last Wednesday and 3-for-4 with a three-run homer in the Braves’ 13–3 regional semifinal win over Iowa–Grant last Tuesday.

Riley Christensen, So., C/P, Belmont baseball
     Christensen went 6-fo14 with two doubles, three RBI and earn victories in the regional final and sectional final to help Belmont reach the WIAA Baseball State Tournament for the first time in school history. The sophomore righty stuck out five and allowed just one unearned run on three hits in the Braves’ 14–1 five-inning victory over Bangor in Wednesday’s D4 Riverdale Sectional final. He also went 2-for-3 with two RBI in the game. Last Wednesday, Christensen pitched into the fifth inning, earning the win in Belmont’s 10–5 regional final victory over Highland and helped his own cause with two hits, including an RBI double.

Matt Davis, Sr., Benton/Scales Mound/Shullsburg boys’ track and field
    Davis also won two state titles for the Zephyrs on Friday, but both his titles came in the same event. The Scales Mound junior came out on top in the D3 boys’ high jump on Friday afternoon after becoming the lone competitor to clear the bar at 6’5”. During the competition, Davis thought he was done at 6’4” after thinking he had missed his three attempts at that height. However, all three officials scoring the event had him marked down for only two attempts at that height and made him take another attempt despite his own protests that he was finished. He went on to clear 6’4”, and then was the lone jumper to top 6’5” to win the event– or so he thought.
     “I was pretty sure I had three misses, but I was brought back to jump. I told them I had already missed all three, but they checked the results and they all said I only missed twice. I got my fourth attempt and I stuck it.”
     A coach from a competing school filed a protest about his fourth attempt at 6’4”, but that protest was denied by the WIAA appeals’ committee. However, during the appeal process it was brought up by another coach that when their were only six jumpers remaining who all cleared 6’2” that they moved the bar up two inches instead of just one inch, which is the rule. That appeal was accepted and all six jumpers had to return to the high jump pit over an hour after the event was completed to restart the competition at 6’3”. Undaunted, Davis cleared 6’3” on his first attempt, 6’4” on his second attempt this time around and 6’5” on his first attempt to join Shiocton junior Kaden Piechocki as the lone remaining jumpers.
     Davis, who took fifth at state in the high jump as a sophomore, matched personal-best as well as his school and tri-op record by clearing the bar on his first attempt at 6’6”– which was his 20th jump of the event. Piechocki missed all three of his attempts at 6’6”, leaving Davis once again as the champion in the event.

Ethan James, Sr., P/IF, Belmont baseball
     James pitched the Braves to a pair of playoff victories in the last week and helped Belmont reached the WIAA State baseball tournament for the first time in school history. James (5–3) pitched into the sixth and struck out eight and allowed just two runs, one earned, on one hit, in Wednesday’s 6–2 D4 Riverdale sectional semifinal victory over De Soto. He also scored two runs in the Braves’ 14–1 five-inning sectional final victory over De Soto. James also earned the complete game victory in last Tuesday’s 13–3 regional semifinal victory over Iowa–Grant, allowing two earned runs on five hits in five innings while striking out six. James went a combined 3-for-6 with a pair of home runs and three RBI in regional victories over I–G and Highland last week.

Austin Jentz, Jr., Platteville boys track and field
    Jentz completed his 2019 season sweep of every discus competition he entered to become the 87th Hillmen athlete to take home gold from the WIAA State Track & Field Championships. Jentz dominated the Division 2 competition Saturday at UW–La Crosse posting the six best throws in the competition to win the state title with a winning toss of 168’1”. His winning throw was more 11 feet better than his nearest competitor, Rice Lake junior Adam Strouf (156’10”). 
     Jentz was also named to the 2019 Wisconsin High School All-State Team by the Wisconsin Track Coaches Association for his Division 2 Championship throw. To attain All-State honors an athlete must rank in the top six track times or field distances for all divisions achieved at the state track meet. Jentz scaled the medal stand a second time placing sixth in the D2 shot put Friday morning with a throw of 49’10.75”. 

Brynlee Nelson, So., Fennimore girls track and field
    Nelson anchored Fennimore’s 4x400 state championship relay that won the Division 3 title Saturday at the WIAA State Track and Field meet with a new school record 4:03.78. Nelson, Lauryn Bunn, Maddy Adam and Delanee Klaas broke a 35-year-old school record in the event with a time of 4:07.07 in Friday’s prelims then smashed their own mark to run away with the title, finishing more than three seconds faster than runner-up La Crosse Aquinas. Nelson also finished second in the 400 (58.90), third in the 800 (2:15.54) and 12th in the triple jump (33’11.5”).

Abby Rynes, Sr., Richland Center girls track and field
    Rynes vaulted to her first state title, clearing 11’6” to win the Division 2 girls pole vault title Friday at the WIAA State Track and Field Championships in La Crosse. She was the D2 runner-up a year ago.


Brinley Wood, Sr., Cuba City girls track and field
    Wood cleared 5’4” on her final attempt to set a new personal best and win the Division 3 girls high jump title Saturday at the WIAA State Track and Field Championships at UW–La Crosse. It was Wood’s third career state title and seventh career medal. She also won state titles as members of the Cubans’ 4x100 relay teams as a freshman and a junior. Wood also placed seventh in the 4x100 relay (51.41) and 13th in the 100-meter-dash (13.39).