LA CROSSE – Darlington junior Grady Rielly finished off another successful season for the Redbirds’ track and field program by earning a pair of state medals at the 2017 WIAA Division 3 State Track in Field Meet held at UW-La Crosse’s Veterans Memorial Stadium on Friday and Saturday, June 2-3.
Rielly placed fifth in the D3 boys’ 110-meter high hurdles in 16.01 seconds to kick off his memorable day on Saturday, and then did himself one better by placing fourth in the D3 300-meter intermediate hurdles in school-record time of 40.38 seconds to finish off the meet.
Darlington sent 21 athletes to state in 16 events and those athletes faced a wide range of adversity throughout the meet from injuries, stiff competition and intense summer-like heat. Through all that, the Redbirds left it all out on the track– and field.
“I was very proud of our boys at the state meet. They were able to overcome some obstacles, such as heat and injury, and still compete at a high level. Our distance kids had to fight through some high temperatures, but were still able to compete,” Darlington head coach Pat Reichling pointed out.
“Our girls’ team did well. I was impressed with the effort they gave during the hot weekend. Some of our girls were able to have their best performances of the year, and that is always what you want from your athletes. If they show up and have their best performance, then there is not much else a coach can ask for.”
The Redbirds finished in a four-way tie for 19th-place in the boys’ D3 team standings with 13 points, while the Lady Redbirds were shutout in the D3 girls’ meet.
Coleman finished with 43 team points to win the boys’ D3 team title ahead of Rosholt with 39 points.
Algoma scored 44 points to edge out Edgar with 42 points to unseat the two-time defending state champion Cuba City as the D3 girls’ team champions.
The Redbirds’ 4x800-meter relay team of senior Conner Hackett, juniors Tanner Evenstad and Paul King and sophomore Tucker Lange came into the state meet as the top seed in the event, but narrowly missed a spot on the award’s stand after finishing seventh in 8:20.21.
Hackett added an eighth-place finish in the 3,200 run (10:13.16), while King placed 17th in the 3,200 (11:34.34) and Evenstad took 11th (2:05.50) and Lange took 14th (2:07.01), respectively, in the 800.
The Redbirds’ 4x200-meter team consisting of senior Jared Meister, juniors Kameron Blosch and Curtis Blosch and sophomore Blake Whalen finished eighth in 1:33.28 in the finals on Saturday.
The ‘Birds were seeded sixth after Friday’s preliminary race after turning in the second-best time in school history with senior Trevor Johnson, but Johnson was hurt running the 4x100 relay later in the day on Friday and could not run on Saturday. The 4x100 team was not able to finish their preliminary race on Friday after Johnson pulled up with an injury.
“Our boys 4x200 ran the second fastest time in school history in the prelims and came back in the finals and ran the fourth fastest time in school history with one of our alternates running. That shows how hard everyone on the team is working,” replied Reichling.
Sophomore Trae Schilling placed 17th in the 1,600 run (4:58.44) for the ‘Birds.
The Lady Redbirds’ 4x200-meter relay team of senior Sadie Fitzsimons, sophomores Kaylee Meyers and Kathleen Mathias and freshman Lizzie Schwartz placed ninth in 1:50.13 to lead the girls’ team at state.
Junior Kennedy Rankin placed 10th in the discus (110’11”), and junior Hunter Weber placed 13th in the pole vault (9’0”).
Senior Paige Schilling participated in her fourth career state meet, finishing 16th in the 3,200 run (12:36.65) and joining with juniors Emma Crist and Erin Wolf and sophomore Ilse Mendez to place 13th in the 4x800 relay. It was the 12th year in a row the Lady Redbirds had a 3,200 relay team compete at state.
Junior Reghan Komprood finished 15th in the 1,600 run (5:43.04) for the Lady ‘Birds.
“This season was exciting for a lot of reasons. The athletes and coaches were always working hard and never complained about anything they were doing. We asked a lot of our kids to do things they did not normally do in order to help us score points in various meets. That type of team attitude is what continues to give our program the depth and success we have achieved,” said Reichling.
“You can tell that it has made an impact when you look at the team success we had down the stretch. Winning both girls’ and boys’ conference and regional team championships, as well as the boys’ sectional team championship. It was a special year to say the least.”
Seventeen of Darlington’s 21 state qualifiers this season are underclassmen, which could lead to big things once again for the Redbirds next season.
“I think that getting so many underclassmen to the state meet will be a big advantage for us next season. The state meet is a very humbling experience for many people, and to experience it as an underclassman allows you to see not only what it is like but what you have to do to be successful at the level. I believe it will give our kids focus and drive for the upcoming year. I look forward to many great things” added the Redbird coach.