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Martensen golden in final prep runs: BSMS senior wins gold in all three distance races
Martensen 2022
Benton senior Kayci Martensen capped her career as one of the most decorated distance runners in state history by winning the D3 girls 800, 1,600 and 3,200 at this year's WIAA Track and Field State Championships. He three state titles this year gave her eight for her career, and the 2020 season was cancelled due to COVID-19. She also won three state titles in cross country for 11 total titles. - photo by By Tom Gunnell

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

By Tom Gunnell, Tri-County Press / Republican Journal

Kayci Martensen, Sr., Benton/Scales Mound/Shullsburg
LA CROSSE — Kayci Martensen may say that the end of her prep career was bittersweet, but all those in the crowd who got to watch her run away with first-place finishes in her final three high school records will just say it was sweet.

The Benton senior solidified her place among the top runners in state history by pulling off her second straight distance triple crown at the 2022 WIAA State Track and Field Meet held at UW–La Crosse’s Veterans Memorial Stadium on Friday and Saturday, June 3–4.

Martensen raced away with her third career Division 3 state title in the 3,200-meter run on Friday afternoon as she charged away from the pack over the final three of the eight-lap race to post a winning time of 10:59.07.

The Iowa-State recruit returned to the track on Saturday afternoon and blew away the field to earn her third straight D3 title in the 1,600-meter run with a winning time of 4:57.05. 

Later in the day, Martensen finished off the triple crown by winning her second straight D3 800-meter state title as she worked her way through traffic midway through the race and out-kicked the competition to the finish line to win the race in 2:17.47.

“I feel really good about what I did, but I’m also kind of sad it's my last high school meet,” said Martensen “It’s crazy. I don’t know how to describe it. I’m just so happy and excited. I’m definitely proud of myself. I never thought I’d be where I am today. Without my teammates and all my coaches, I wouldn’t have achieved all that I have during my career.”

The three titles this season gives Martensen eight gold medals in the nine state races she competed in during her career. If Covid-19 had not cancelled her sophomore season, she may have surpassed the state record of 10 first-place finishes held by five former WIAA female athletes. The Benton runner also earned three state titles in cross country for a total of 11 golds.

“I don’t think our area is going to see another runner like her again for some time,” said Benton/Scales Mound/Shullsburg head coach Paul Raley. “I think she was a bit nervous (before her final race). I told her to soak it all in and enjoy it as she jogged up to the finish line. Those were her final two high school laps and I hoped she would enjoy them.”

The Knights’ 4x800-meter relay team of senior Joelle Sigwarth, juniors Ella Woodworth and Anna Richardson and sophomore Hanna Martensen opened the state meet with an exciting third-place finish in a time of 9:44.05 to give the gitls’ team a shot at winning a state team trophy.

“They dropped 18 seconds off their previous best time this season and got within two seconds of the tri-op record. They really ran well,” said Coach Raley.

Their six points combined with Kayci Martensen’s 30 from her three state titles put the BSMS co-op in second-place heading into the final race of the day– the 4x400 relay. The Knights had a chance to place a team in that race, but the crew of Sigwarth, Woodworth, Richardson and Hanna Martensen just missed out on advancing out of Friday’s preliminary race after finishing 12th in 4:16.69. The top 10 teams moved on to the finals.

Dodgeland, who sat in fourth place with 29 points, and Lancaster, who was in third with 30 points, each had a team in the 4x400 finale. Unfortunately, as it turned out, the Trojans got the finish they needed to surpass the Knights as senior Miranda Firari turned in a tremendous sub-60 second lap, passing several runners over the final 30 yards, including the Flying Arrows’ anchor, to lead Dodgeland to a second-place finish in the race and a runner-up finish in the final team standings. BSMS and Lancaster tied for third with 36 points.

“I hoped our 4x4 team could sneak through prelims to try and get us some more points because more times than not it comes down to that final race to determine a champion. Those kids ran tough and gave it their all. We were just a bit shy of getting to the finals,” Raley remarked. 

Webster finished first in the D3 girls’ meet with junior Ava Washburn accounting for all 38 of the Tigers' points with first-place finishes in the long jump, triple jump and 100-meter hurdles along with a second-place finish in the 300 hurdles. Had Lancaster taken second in the 4x400, they would have shared the title with Webster.