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Lancaster girls tie for second place at Division 3 State Meet
Lancaster girls track team
The Lancaster girls track and field team scored 28 points to tie Chequamegon for second place in Division 3 at last weekend's WIAA State Track and Field Meet at UW–La Crosse.

TRACK & FIELD: SWC Conference Meet

By A.J. Gates, Herald Independent

Lancaster girls tie for second place at Division 3 State Meet

LA CROSSE — From the very beginning of the 2023 season, the mission for the Lancaster girls’ track and field team was to bring home a trophy from the WIAA State Championships held in La Crosse.

That mission was completed last Friday and Saturday, where coach Kyle Stiklestad and his female Flying Arrows finished in a tie for second place among the 64 Division 3 teams to have scored at the meet.

With 28 total points, the Flying Arrows tied with Chequamegon for the Sivision 3 silver trophy, while Fall Creek firmly secured the gold with a whopping 55 team points.

“We kind of talked to them all year about taking it one meet at a time, but that goals also have to have that end spot. We always talked about having a chance at state and that we had a good enough team to at least give ourselves a chance,” said Lancaster coach Kyle Stiklestad. “When we then qualified nine events out of sectionals we gave ourselves that chance.”

While Lancaster had 11 athletes competing at state in nine events, including all four relays, Chequamegon was represented by just one athlete competing in three events.

Junior Autumn Michalski scored all 28 points for the Screaming Eagles, and single-handedly put a silver trophy in her school’s cabinet by winning the D3 girls’ 800 and 1,600 and taking second in the 3,200.

Like Lancaster, Fall Creek also had competitors in nine different events, including three relays. The Crickets got most of their points with first-place finishes in the 4x100, 4x200 and pole vault competitions, along with a second-place finish in the 800 and a third in the high jump. They also added a fourth-place finish in the 100, a fifth-place finish in the long jump and a seventh-place finish in the 4x800.

The Flying Arrows scored their most points in the final event of the meet, making for a dramatic finish to the 2023 state track and field meet.

Needing at least a second-place finish in the 4x400 relay to secure a share of the state runner-up title, the team of Sophia Burr, Annie Martin, Kylie Olmstead and Mallory Olmstead got the job done.

“They knew coming in exactly what was needed,” said coach Stiklestad of the final race. “It was a lot to put on a group of four girls, but they’re super focused. They knew what they needed, and the pressure wasn’t going to get to them.”

“Sophia started things off and ran an amazing first leg and kind of set the tone right off the bat,” Stiklestad explained. “After that every girl followed. We got out in the lead, and we always say we want to be out in fresh air and not have people around us. That kind of set the tone, and I was feeling pretty confident at that point and time. I didn’t know if we were going to be first or second, but every girl got the baton and came around and did their job.”

By the time Mallory Olmstead had the baton in her hands for the final leg, the 4x400 was a two-team race, with Phillips taking first (4:03.23) and Lancaster in second (4:04.24). Third-place Pacelli finished at 4:07.85.

“It was super exciting with a lot of high fives and jumping around, because we knew there really weren’t any other teams in the mix,” said Stiklestad.

The only competition remaining was a game of rock, paper, scissors for coach Stiklestad and Chequamegon coach Mary Patterson, for the right to take home the girls’ D3 silver team trophy. The loser would have to wait for theirs to be sent to the school at a later date. Stiklestad won.

In track and field, team titles are only won by a collaborative effort by all athletes, where every point is as vitally important as the next.

The Flying Arrows collected six points in the 4x100 with a third-place finish by Maddie Nielsen, Abby Burr, Eden Bowen and Lainee Burks (:50.69).

That came after a dropped baton in the 4x200, which prevented the Lancaster ladies from scoring any points in that event. The team of Sophia Burr, Abby Burr, Bowen and Burks entered Saturday’s final with the fourth-best preliminary time in the 4x200 of 1:46.91.

Lancaster also received six points on Friday from sophomore Megan Kreul, who placed third in the triple jump with a leap of 37.7.5, which bettered her own school record set multiple times throughout the season.

“She surpassed our goals as coaches and her own goals,” Stiklestad said of Kreul. “We were at Sun Prairie in the middle of the season and she jumped “35’1” to tie the school record and she wasn’t happy with that, she wanted it by herself.”

“At that point the wheels just started moving and I think every time she jumped after that she broke the school record,” Stiklestad added. “It was crazy.”

“She’s got some great, great potential, and next year you’ll start seeing her on those relays. She’s a fast girl, we just had to pick and choose our spots this year,” Stiklestad said. “She’s a good rounded athlete, we just didn’t utilize her to her full potential this year. As a sophomore you kind of want to let those younger kids get comfortable. In the coming years we’ll be putting a lot more on her shoulders.”

Another of Lancaster’s top performers was junior Mallory Olmstead, who scored five points for her team with a fourth-place finish in the 800 (2:16.54), while also anchoring the second-place 4x400 relay team and the sixth-place 4x800 relay team (9:54.02). Others on the 4x800 included freshman Kylie Olmstead, sophomore Annie Martin and senior Mikayla Smith.

“She was very instrumental in her 800 points that she got the team, but not only that, the 4x800 got us points and the 4x400 got us points,” Stiklestad explained. “If you look at a girl that was part of a lot of points for our state runner-up team trophy, she was instrumental in a lot of points for that.”

“She does amazing things for us,” he added. “She’s that quiet leader and not someone that is going to stand out in front of the whole team, but in her small group of girls that are around her on the 800, 4x400 and 4x800 she really is that girl that sets the tone for them.”

“She sets her standards extremely high, and that’s really good. She set our school record again in the 800 and PR’d by a second and a half, and ended up getting fourth, which we were super happy with. For her, she was happy with it, but she wants to be better all the time,” added Stiklestad.

In all the Lancaster ladies scored points in five of their nine events. Other events and results included Burks finishing ninth in the 100 (:12.89), Macie Galle finishing ninth in the pole vault (9’6”) and Eden Bowen finishing 13th in the 200 (:26.96).

The Lancaster ladies set four school records at the 2023 state meet, that included Olmstead in the 800 and Kreul in the triple jump, as well as the 4x100 and 4x400 relay teams.

“Four school records at state for the girls is pretty impressive,” Stiklestad said.