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MCDONALD'S GAME OF THE WEEK (Track and Field): Fennimore girls take 2nd in Division 3
Lady Eagles win three event state titles
The Fennimore girls track and field team scored 47 team points to finish second in Division 3 at the WIAA Division 3 Track and Field State Championships last Thursday in La Crosse.


WIAA STATE TRACK AND FIELD CHAMPIONSHIP: Fennimore girls place second in Division 3

By Jason Nihles

LA CROSSE — The Fennimore girls track and field team capped a sensational season with three state titles and a team runner-up finish at the WIAA Division 3 State Championships last Thursday at UW–La Crosse’s Veterans Memorial Stadium.

Senior Brynlee Nelson won the girls 400 meters, and teamed with classmate Lauryn Bunn, junior Delanee Klaas and freshman sister Braycee Nelson to win the 4x400 relay, and freshman Izzy Bender broke her own school record to win the high jump with the best jump of the entire state meet in all divisions.

“It’s tough to get one state champion but to have crowned three is phenomenal,” said Fennimore head coach Gregg Davis. “It’s easy to look on paper and say we have a chance but to go out and prove it is another matter. These young people definitely proved it.”

Brynlee Nelson, a four-event state qualifier for the second time in her career, won the  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”). 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).

“I’ve been lucky enough to be associated with Fennimore track and field for 37 years and I’ve had the pleasure of coaching some unbelievable athletes, but Brynlee is at the top,” said Davis. “ I’ve never been around a more humble champion. She could participate at D1 schools (for track and field) if she chose, but I’m happy that she’s following her own dreams. 

“She dominated the 400 field the way she has the entire year She could have pushed for a third gold, but got out a little slow in the 800, was boxed in and tripped up at the 200-meter mark and by that time was 60 meters behind phenom Kaci Martensen from Benton. She gave her all in the triple jump after running three highly competitive races and was able to podium with a 6th place finish.”

Nelson, Bunn and junior Delanee Klaas, a three-even state qualifier, 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 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. 

“Braycee really ran a strong third leg, was able to make up solid ground, and was able to get a clean handoff to Brynlee. Brynlee passed numerous runners and grabbed the lead at the 100-meter mark. She just built on that lead with a 56 split and crossed the finish line well ahead of the second place team. I think a competitive 4x400 relay is the best race in track. It’s satisfying to know Fennimore has had the best team in consecutive years.”

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.

“Izzy was amazing,” said Davis. “We changed her approach the day before sectionals and she capitalized on it. Not many young people could make a significant change and feel comfortable;  she obviously did. She was ranked second coming in but all 18 competitors were within striking distance of a championship and Izzy was the lone freshman. We talked about being clean from 4’10” to 5’ and then seeing how things shake out. Izzy was clean through 5’2” and had one miss before clearing 5’4”. The other seven jumpers left didn’t make that height and Izzy was crowned champion.”

After Division 2 and 1 competition on Friday and Saturday, Bender was named first-team All-State in the high jump.

“She ended up clearing 5’5”, adding three inches to the school record in one week, and after D2 and D1 competition had the number one jump at the entire state meet,” added Davis.

Klaas placed third in the 300 hurdles with a time of 48.14 after a disappointing false start in the 100-meter hurdles prelims earlier in the day.

“Delanee is one of the gutsiest competitors I know,” said Davis. “Many young people would have been broken after the false start, but she knew she had races left and team points to get. She has really been battered physically this season but came back strong in the last 20 meters to go from sixth to third in the 300 hurdles. That race was all heart and determination.”

Fennimore accumulated 47 teams points to finish second in the final Division 3 girls team standings behind champion Royall (50). 

Senior Jessica Brueggeman broke her own state record by nearly a foot to win the high jump (19’8”) and placed second in the triple jump (38’7.75”), senior Emma Gruen was second in the high jump (5’2”), and freshman Mara Gruen was third in the 3,200 and fourth in the 1,600 for the Panthers, and the Royall girls placed second in the 4x100 relay and fourth in the 4x400.

“Like I said at the high school rally following the state meet, the medals and trophy that were brought home don’t sparkle as brightly as these young people do on a daily basis. All track and field team members this year are truly some of Fennimore’s finest. 

Senior Tristan Ammon was the Fennimore boys lone state qualifier. He finished 15th in the boys’ 110-meter hurdles with a time of 17.99 in the prelims.

“It was great to see Tristan Ammon get to hurdle at the state meet,” added Davis. “He is the heart, soul, and comedian of our team.”

WIAA Division 3 State Meet
(from Thursday, June 24 @ UW–La Crosse)
Top 10 team scores — 1.La Crosse Aquinas 54, 2.Edgar 45, 3.Lancaster 26, 4.Durand 25, 5.Chetek/Weyerhaeuser 23, 6.Sheboygan Area Lutheran 21, 7.Reedsville 20, 8.Kenosha St. Joeseph’s 18, 9.Wild Rose 17, 10.Benton/Scales Mound 16, 10.Shiocton 16, 10.Dodgeland 16, 10.St. Mary Catholic 16.
Fennimore state qualifiers
110 hurdles — 15.Tristan Ammon 17.99. 
Top 10 team scores — 1.Royall 50, 2.Fennimore 47, 3.Benton/Scales Mound/Shullsburg 41.5, 4.Shiocton 30.5, 5.Lancaster 26, 6.Gillette 25, 7.Sevastopol 22, 7.Ladysmith 22, 9.Cashton 21.5, 10.Webster 19.
Fennimore state qualifiers
400 — 1.Brynlee Nelson 58.0. 800 — 2.Brynlee Nelson 2:16.70. 100 hurdles — DNP.Delanee Klaas FS. 300 hurdles — 3.Klaas 48.14. 4x400 relay — 1.Fennimore (Lauryn Bunn, Klaas, Braycee Nelson, Brynlee Nelson) 4:06.64. High jump — 1.Izzy Bender 5’5”. Triple jump — 6.Brynlee Nelson 35’11.5”.