LA CROSSE – In a history-making season, the Benton/Scales Mound/Shullsburg track and field added a few more chapters to their history books at the 2017 WIAA State Track and Field Meet held at UW-La Crosse’s Veterans Memorial Stadium on Friday and Saturday, June 2-3.
Senior Jeremiah Bailey leaped away with the boys’ Division 3 high jump title after tying his own Shullsburg and Tri-op record with a winning mark of 6’4” to lead the boys’ team at the state meet, while the BSMS girls’ 4x100-meter relay team edged out defending champion Cuba City at the finish line to earn themselves a gold medal and give both Benton and Shullsburg their first-ever female state champions.
The Lady Zephyrs finished seventh overall in the girls’ D3 team standings with 30 points after getting five state medal performances out of their ninth state entries, and the Zephyrs finished in a tie for 13th-place overall in boys’ D3 team standings with 16 points with two state medals among their four entries.
“I think they performed as well as I could have expected them to at state. We did very well. To come away with as many medals as we did and to be in the mix for a team title, you can’t ask for more than that. I’m so proud of them,” said BSMS head coach Paul Raley.
“To have two state champions out our program with no track facilities, it’s just amazing that something like that can happen. I give all the credit to the assistant coaches because they had their kids prepared to compete. The kids were mentally prepared as well.”
Bailey, who returned to the team following a year off, came into the state meet seeded fifth, but jumped into first-place by becoming the first of two competitors to clear the bar at 6’4”. Neither Bailey nor Suring senior John Christensen could clear 6’5” leaving the Shullsburg senior to finish atop the state podium.
He is the first male athlete from Shullsburg to win a state title since Jeff Edge won a Class C in the 3,200 run in 1985.
“It completely threw me. It didn’t settle in at first, but it feels great especially considering where I was seeded coming into the meet. I only expected to maybe make the podium if things went well. To go there and win it was pretty intense,” admitted Bailey, who tied for fourth in the event as a sophomore. “The environment was fun. The goal was to beat him, but right before we were jumping we were telling each other good luck. I love that.”
The Lady Zephyrs’ 400-meter relay team of senior Paige Murphy, junior Emma Lawrence and freshmen Calli Jerry and Chloe Matthews also got their chance to stand atop the podium after blazing to a state title in 50.31 seconds and edging the rival Cubans by just .15 of a second for first-place.
“It’s amazing. It was a goal I have had but never imagined it would actually happen. This is a dream come true. It was perfect. It couldn’t have ended any better,” said Murphy, who joins Lawrence and Matthews as the first girls in Benton history to earn a state title.
“It’s really exciting. I was surprised because I didn’t think Emma would catch (Cuba City’s Mykenzie Vaassen), but she got her,” said Jerry, who becomes the first female track athlete at Shullsburg to win a state title. “It was so cool up there. I didn’t think there would be that many people. I was glad to run well in front of all of them. I was so excited.”
For Lawrence, the gold-medal performance was just part of a busy day, which saw her earn three state medals while competing in four events in the sweltering heat throughout the weekend. The Benton junior finished third in the 100-meter high hurdles (16.28) and fourth in the 300-meter low hurdles (46.14) to run her career total to seven state medals, and she also placed 10th in the triple jump with a personal best jump of 35’3.5”.
“It was an emotional day. I think I felt everything I could yesterday. It was awesome to have my teammates cheering me on all day,” commented Lawrence, who passed Vaassen in the final 30 meters to secure the 4x100 title. “I was running on adrenaline. That kept me going. I felt fine until I was done. I don’t remember the last time I passed the finish line smiling, so that was a feeling I’ll never forgot. It felt awesome to be able to do it.”
Junior Brianna Leahy added a pair of medals in the throwing events, placing third in the D3 girls’ shot put (40’1”) on Friday afternoon and finishing sixth in the discus (117’10”) on Saturday morning.
“This year was more of a success than last year, so I was happy about that,” said Leahy, who was fifth in the shot put at state as a sophomore and did not advance in the discus. “I think that motivated me to get there again. I felt great to get back and reach the podium twice. Two medals are better than one.”
Murphy placed 12th in the 100-meter dash prelims (13.21) and 15th in the long jump (15’7.25”) on Friday, while senior Katie Pingel placed 12th in the triple jump (33’10.75”) on Saturday for the Lady Zephyrs.
The BSMS boys’ 4x400-meter relay team of juniors Aaron Pulvermacher, Ethan Shetler and David Germaine and sophomore Troy Turpin wrapped up this year’s state meet for the Zephyrs by finishing third in D3 in a Tri-op record-setting time of 3:28.92.
Pulvermacher, Germaine and Turpin teamed with junior Josh Redfearn placed 13th in the 4x800 relay on Friday, and junior Ben Davis joined Bailey in the high jump and took ninth by clearing 6’0”.
“This year sets the tone for the kids next year. We got good building blocks coming back. I expect us to have a great deal of success next season with their experience,” said Raley, noting that 10 of the 13 BSMS state qualifiers this year will return in 2018.
Algoma scored 44 points to edge out Edgar with 42 points to unseat the two-time defending state champion Lady Cubans as the D3 girls’ team champions.
Coleman finished with 43 team points to win the boys’ D3 team title ahead of Rosholt with 39 points.