EDITOR'S NOTE: The Swnews4u.com Athlete of the Week is a web-only feature that will publish each Thursday throughout the calendar year.
By Tom Gunnell and Jason Nihles
Kayci Martensen, Jr., girls Benton/Scales Mound/Shullsburg track and field
LA CROSSE – Kayci Martensen did all she could to distance herself for the competition at the 2021 WIAA Division 3 State Track and Field Meet held at UW-La Crosse’s Veterans Memorial Stadium on Thursday, June 24.
The junior pulled off a remarkable trifecta by running away with state titles in the 800-meter, 1,600-meter and 3,200-meter runs to highlight a busy day at state for the Benton/Scales Mound/Shullsburg girls’ and boys’ track and field teams.
Martensen’s feat would have been noteworthy enough during a normal year when the state meet is a two-day, multi-division event. However, for her to pull off the distance triple-title performance during this year’s Covid-19 altered single-day, single-division format was stunning to say the least.
“Kayci’s performance at the state meet was phenomenal. She left no doubt who was the queen of the distance as she led (the 800) convincingly from the start, winning by over two seconds (over top-seeded Brynlee Nelson of Fennimore),” said BSMS head coach Paul Raley. “The 800 was the only race she ran ‘hard’, and she earned All State honors in it. Kayci sacrificed any other honors and probably the state record in the 1,600 by running just enough to win. She was trying to get her team a trophy, and she certainly did her part.”
Martensen scored 30 team points with her three first-place finishes and the team’s four other state participants each added team points to keep the Knights in the running for a team trophy in the girls’ meet. The tri-op was in first-place with two events remaining, but Royall and Fennimore each placed competitors in both events to overtake the Knights in the standings.
Royall used a second-place finish in the triple jump and a fourth-place finish in the 1,600 relay to jump into first-place with 50 points, while Fennimore placed first in the 4x400 and sixth in the triple jump to move into second-place with 47 points. The Knights finished third with 41.5 points.
Martensen began her golden day by defending her 2019 1,600-meter title in a winning time of 5:09.16. Then, she bested a tough field to earn the 800 title, cruising to the title in 2:16.59. She returned to the track a short time later to earn her third state title of the day and the fifth of her career by defending her 3,200 title in a winning time of 11:16.70.
“It was really exciting. To win all three races, that was my goal. I wasn’t really focused on my times today. My goal was to win all three events,” said Martensen after completing the 3,200.
Martensen was just one of three runners of either gender in all divisions to attempt the distance trifecta at the state meet, and she was the only one to medal in all three races. Durand junior Parker Schneider won the 800 and 1,600 titles and placed 15th in the 3,200 in the D3 boys’ meet, while Oconomowoc senior Kylie Finger placed sixth in the 800, fifth in the 1,600 and 14th in the 3,200.
“I’m tired. It was definitely different than two years ago when it was spaced out over two days,” Martensen remarked.
Kayci wasn’t the only team member nor was she the only Martensen to have a busy day in La Crosse. Hanna Martensen, her freshman sister, earned team points in three events and a state medal in one of those events to add to the family’s outstanding day.
Karissa Craddock, Jr., Richland Center girls track and field
LA CROSSE – Karrisa Craddock won three individual state titles and tied for second in the girls' team standings by herself with 30 points at last Friday's WIAA Wheelchair Track and Field State Championships at UW–La Crosse.
Craddock won the girls' wheelchair 100 meters, the wheelchair 400 and the wheelchair 1,600.
Craddock was one of the top wheelchair athletes in the state two years ago as a freshman, but a shoulder injury prevented her from competing at sectionals in 2019 and she was unable to qualify for the state meet. Last year's spring sports season was wiped out by the COVID-19 pandemic.
The Richland Center junior made her state debut Friday morning by winning the girls' 1,600 meter title with a winning time of 5:22.49, which was the second best time boys or girls in the wheelchair 1,600 behind only four-event boys' wheelchair state champion Noah Eckleberg, a senior from Marshfield Columbus Catholic.
Craddock then won the girls' wheelchair 100 meter with a time of 18.80 seconds, more than two seconds better than runner-up Emma Jundt (20.87) of Indian Trail High School.
Later that afternoon, Craddock won her third state championship by winning the girls' 400 meters with a time of 1:11.70.
HONORABLE MENTION (in alphabetical order):
Izzy Bender, Fr., Fennimore girls track and field
Bender broke her own school record of 5’3”, set a week earlier at the D3 Boscobel Sectional, to win the D3 girls’ high jump by clearing 5’5”, three inches more than her nearest competitors. After Division 2 and 1 competition on Friday and Saturday, Bender was named first-team All-State in the high jump.
Fennimore girls 4x400 relay — Brynlee Nelson (Sr.), Lauryn Bunn (Sr.), Delanee Klaas (Jr.) and Braycee Nelson (Fr.)
Brynlee Nelson, classmate Lauryn Bunn and junior Delanee Klaas, a three-even state qualifier this year, defended their 2019 D3 state title in 4x400 relay, with freshman Braycee Nelson, with a winning time of 4:06.64. “The girls 4x4 team was undefeated all year but they were pretty banged up heading into state,” said Fennimore head coach Gregg Davis. “Lauryn gave us her steady first leg, even on a troublesome ankle and Delanee ran well with very sore shins. The handoff between Del and Braycee was pretty nerve racking. A runner fell in front of Del, Del stepped on her, and another team passed the baton from right to left immediately in front of Braycee. There was just a lot of traffic there."
Grace Graber, RF and Annika Lord, P, Dodgeville softball
Graber went a combined 6-for-8 with a double, a triple, four RBI and a run scored to lead the Dodgers (28–3) to the WIAA Division 3 softball state title Tuesday. Graber went 3-for-3 with a double, a walk and two RBI in Dodgeville's 5–3 championship game victory over Prescott (24–3) Tuesday night. Lord collected both wins in the D3 state tournament along with 17 strikeouts while allowing seven runs, two earned, on 13 hits in 14 innings pitched. Her pitching helped the Dodgers overcome four errors in the state championship game and another miscue that allowed two unearned runs in a 10–4 state semifinal victory over Lomira (17–4).
Lancaster girls 4x200 relay — Caitlyn Hahn (Sr.), Bridee Burks (Jr.), Eden Bowen (So.) and Lainee Burks (So.)
Hahn, Bowen and the Burks sisters were all over at the state meet, but the quartet came together to win a state title in the girls 4x200 relay with a winning time of 1:46.69, nearly a second better than runner-up Ladysmith (1:47.34). Hahn also placed sixth in the 4x100 relay, eighth in the 100 (13.48) and 11th in the discus (99'6"). Lainee Burks placed fifth in the 4x400 relay with sister Bridee, senior Kiley Kelley and freshman Mallory Olmstead, sixth in the 4x100 relay with Hahn, junior Tatiana Place and sophomore Abby Burr, and 13th in the long jump (15'9"). Bridee Burks teamed with Olmstead, senior Kristin Muench and sophomore Mikayla Smith to place third in the 4x800, and was on the fifth-lace 4x400 relay and placed 11th in the triple jump (34'2.75"). The quartet helped the Lancaster girls finish fifth with 26 team points.
Jack Misky, Sr., Cuba City boys track and field
Misky, a Division 1 UW–Milwaukee track and field recruit, won the D3 boys discus state title with a winning throw of 160'4" and was also named All-State in the event with the fourth-best throw (all divisions) at the state meet.
Brynlee Nelson, Sr., Fennimore girls track and field
Nelson, a four-event state qualifier for the second time in her career, won the D3 girls' 400 with a winning time of 58 seconds, placed second in the 800 at (2:16.70) and sixth in the triple jump (35’11.5”), and ran the anchor leg on the Fennimore girls' state champion 4x400 relay (4:06.64). Nelson’s winning time in the 400 was the fifth-fastest for all divisions at state and earned her All-State honors. The top six performances in all divisions were declared All-State. Nelson, who is going to UW–Platteville in the fall to play both volleyball and basketball, finished her prep track and field career as a 11-time state qualifier, a three-time state champion and a school record holder in six events (200, 400, 800, long jump, triple jump and 4x400 relay).
Preston Noethe, Sr., Lancaster boys track and field
Noethe uncorked a school record jump of 22'6.5" on his final event to win the Division 3 boys long jump at last Thursday's WIAA D3 State Track and Field Championships at UW–La Crosse. Noethe also placed fifth in the high jump (6'2") and seventh in the triple jump (43'1"), and was a member of Lancaster's 10th place 4x100 relay. Noethe earned All-State honors in the long jump with the sixth-best jump at the state meet (all divisions).