Having to replace three girls who placed in the top 10 at state last year — including a state champion — hasn’t been easy for coach Tom Stokes and the Fond du Lac girls track team.
Shavana Talbert won the state shot put competition at La Crosse a year ago, becoming the first Cardinal girl to win state since 1991. She’s gone, as is Emily Riese, who took fourth in both the shot put and discus.
To make things tougher, senior Leah Richter — who placed ninth at state in the pole vault — tore her ACL in basketball this winter, so she won’t be competing.
Those three, especially Talbert and Wiese, produced big points in field events for Fond du Lac last year, leading it to a seventh-place finish at the state meet.
This year’s team may not be able to match such a finish, but figures to be a strong unit nonetheless.
The Cardinals already are off to a good start in the indoor season, placing third out of 16 at Manitowac Lincoln March 22 and ninth out of 21 at the UW-Oshkosh Titan Invitational three days later. They posted eight top-8 finishes at Oshkosh.
One of Fond du Lac’s top scorers this year figures to be senior Jenna Rosenthal, who competes in a rare combination of shot put, discus and high jump and excels at all three. At Oshkosh, she took third in the shot put (35-feet, 10 inches) and fourth in the high jump (5-2).
The 6-foot-5 Rosenthal earned a scholarship to Marquette for volleyball, and her athleticism has translated across sports.
“All winter she’s been working up strength in the weight room,” Stokes said. “She’s starting to reep the benefits now. She’s got some technical issues, but one she gets that down, she’s going to fly.”
Losing Richter certainly hurts, as she was the team’s top pole vaulter and one of its top 400-meter runners and long jumpers last year. But Stokes said other girls have been picking up the slack. Sophomore Alyssa Mertes and senior Lexi Bergman took sixth and 12th at Oshkosh in the pole vault, while senior Nicole Gietzel was sixth in the 400. Senior Desirae Diener also had a top-10 finish there, taking fifth in the 60-meter hurdles.
Another top performer returning is junior Marissa Wustrack, who took ninth at state last year in the triple jump at 35-11. She’s missed the indoor part of this season with gymnastics committments and nursing a back injury, but Stokes said she’s back practicing with the team now and is good to go for today’s Neenah Invitational.
Sophomore Megan Buechel and senior Anne Moore look to head up the distance events as Buechel took sixth in the 3,200 at Oshkosh and Moore was eighth in the 1,600.
Like the other area teams, Fond du Lac has been chomping at the bit to get outside as the season rolls into April.
“We haven’t had a single practice outside yet,” Stokes said Tuesday. “We can’t wait to get out there and spread our wings. We’ve got some balance, but just not many seniors. This year should be a good one, and next year will be even better.”
Last year Springs won regionals, took third at regionals and tied for seventh at state. With a roster stocked with potent returners, and having gone 2-for-2 winning indoor meets this season, there’s good reason to think the current could do just as well, if not better, than last year.
Springs’ set a state record while winning the title last year in the 3,200-meter relay, and returns ¾ of that team in sophomore Liz Bohn and seniors Abby Busse and Alannah Schmitz. Bohn took sixth at state in the 400-meter and took second at the UW-Oshkosh Titan Invitational March 26, four days after setting a meet record at the Waters meet at Oshkosh March 22 in 1 minute and 40 seconds.
Sophomore Megan McGovern is a returning state qualifier in the 100 hurdles. She took third at the Titan Invitational in the 60-hurdles. Melanie Schneider set a school and meet record in the triple jump March 22, while junior Bailey Hoch was fifth in the 60-meter dash there March 26.
The Ledgers won the 16-team Waters meet by 30 points, and the 34-team Titan Invitational by six.
The Vikings took fifth at regionals and 21st at sectionals a year ago. They return one of the area’s top distance runners in senior Mariah Giffey, who placed 16th at state in the 1,600. She took 11th in the 800 at the Titan Invitational.
WLA placed 10th/16 at the Waters meet and 32nd/34 at the Titan Invititational. Senior Rachel Bock placed third and eighth in the long jump in those meets.
North Fond du Lac
The Orioles hosted and took eighth at regionals last year. They lost four letterwinners to graduation and returned seven.
Deanna Luttenberger (sprints), Billi Retzleff (jump) and Abbi Retzleff (jumps) figure to be three of the team’s stop scorers this season. Luttenberger took second in the 60-meter at the Waters meet.
The Warriors took second at regionals and 19th at sectionals in 2012. This indoor season, they took ninth at the Waters meet and eighth out of nine at Watertown on Saturday.
They had a number of good performances at Watertown, with the top one being sophomore Jasmine Dolske’s third place in the shot put. Sophomore Kayla Bonack — a sectional 100-hurdle qualifier last year — took fifth in the 200 hurdles, while junior Ronna Woock was fourth in the 3,200. Junior Hannah Smith was sixth in the 1,600.
Last year’s Spartans took sixth at regionals and 19th out of 33 at sectionals. They had one state qualifier in Alex Wagner, a senior who returns after taking 15th in the 100-hurdles.
Laconia has only had one indoor competition through Wednesday, which was the Waters meet March 22nd. The Spartans performed well there, taking sixth out of 15 teams. Junior Hailey Isaac made her presence known early, winning the 1,600 in 5:44.16 and taking second in the 800.
Senior Alex Wegner took second in the 60 hurdles, while Laconia’s other scrorers that day were junior Lindsey Frieler in the 400 (fifth), senior Kari Shafer in the high jump (fifth), junior Chanel Becker in the shot put (eighth) and junior Brynn Lemond and Ashley Pluim in the 60 meter (sixth, seventh).
The Lions bring back a lot of experience from last year’s team which finished fourth at regionals and 19th at sectionals.
Their top returners include junior state qualifiers Kiersten Zangl (300 hurdles) and Brianna Falk (2011 3,200). Junior Alex Bloch returns as a conference a regional champion in the long jump. Other key returnees include junior Erin Garriety (sprints), sophomore Puneet Bajwa (middle distance) and senior Ellyn Halley (distance).
Lomira took seventh at the Waters meet and 24th at the Titan Invitational. Bloch had the top individual finish, taking fourth in the long jump.
The Cougars are trying to build themselves back up after a down 2012 in which they took eighth at regionals. Coach Steve Hamm says there’s still not enough athletes on the roster for the team to be competitive at meets, though he’s looking for individual success.
Campbellsport lost four letterwinners from last year and returned three. Those three are Lizzy Fellion (distance), Courtney McCourt (pole vault) and Tonri Kerkela (throws). Fellion took sixth at the Waters meet in the 800 and 1,600.
“We are trying to build the number of athletes participating in track and field, as our soccer program has developed, we have seen our track numbers decline,” he said. “Hopefully, our girls can experience some individual success throughout the season.”
Last year the Cardinals took third at regionals and 16th at sectionals. They’re off to a strong start this season as they are coming off a ninth place showing at the 34-team Titan Invitational March 26 and then fifth out of nine at Watertown this past Saturday.
Junior Hope Kubicek is back after qualifying for state in the hurdles (100 and 300) and co-holds the school pole vault record. She had a big night at Oshkosh, taking fourth in the pole vault, triple jump and 60-meter hurdles. She took second in the 200 hurdles at Watertown.
Senior Shannon Wagner and junior Taylor Magnan are the team’s top sprinters. Magnan took fourth in the 400 at Oshkosh and third at Watertown. Wagner also is the team’s top returning long jumper. Senior Brittany Danner will lead Mayville’s distance races.
Central Wisconisn Christian took seventh at regionals and 22nd at sectionals, producing one state qualifier in graduate Laney Kemink, who took 15th in the 100-meter.