It was a banner day for the Oshkosh West girls track team at the WIAA Division 1 Sectional Meet at Titan Stadium on Thursday.
Four state individual qualifiers and two state relay qualifiers — three of which were sectional champs — led the Wildcats to a third-place team finish at the meet.
It all got started with Alyssa Weiler for the Wildcats. Weiler took home second in the high jump competition and was the first Oshkosh West athlete to reach state.
Weiler cleared 5-foot-4 on her first attempt and nearly had a sectional title when Plymouth’s Rachel Cheka missed on her first two jumps. But Cheka cleared the height on her final jump and then cleared 5-foot-5, which Weiler couldn’t do.
“I obviously wanted to be sectional champ,” Weiler said. “But she (Cheka) is very talented. But it would’ve been cooler if I would’ve gotten that title.”
Things only got better for the Wildcats from there. West got a 1-2 finish in the 100-meter dash from Emily Reichenberger and Maddie Leske, respectively.
Reichenberger bested her teammate by just hundreths but she was just happy that both are heading to La Crosse.
“Now that we are first and second we can go together and run that together there,” Reichenberger said with a smile. “We’ve been next to each other for a lot of races. It’s nice running next to her.”
Then Oshkosh West dominated the competition in the 400- and 800- meter relays on their way to sectional championships.
The 800-relay team of Reichenberger, Leske, Ally Ryan and Jackie Butler and the 400-relay team of Reichenberger, Leske, Ryan and Weiler each walked away with pretty easy victories in their races.
Butler would also advance to state by taking third in the 300-meter hurdles, lunging at the finish line to make it.
The Oshkosh West boys team also had a solid day, with four individual state qualifiers.
The Wildcats were led by Stephen Finley, who took home the sectional championship in the 100-meter dash and followed that up with a state-qualifying second in the 200-meter dash.
This was Finley’s first year in the open 100, and even he was amazed at what he did.
“It’s nice to be able to do something my first year kind of running the race in high school,” Finley said. “It was a closer race than I thought but I’m glad I came out on top.”
Following Finley’s path to state were Hunter Markee in the high jump, Connor Arneson in the 400-meter dash and Taylor Doro in the 300-meter hurdles, as all three took home third-place finishes.
Oshkosh North was able to send an individual and relay down to state on the boys side.
The Spartans’ Zack Knoll was the first to qualify, taking second place in the 400-meter dash, just edging out West’s Arneson for the second spot.
It was Knoll’s first time individually qualifying for the state meet after making it as a member of the 1,600-meter relay team.
“Just making it to state by yourself is a huge accomplishment,” Knoll said. “Just going across that finish line, hugh relief after all that work that everyone has put in on the team. It just feels good to be that guy.”
Then the aformentioned 1,600-meter relay team of Knoll, Phil Brechlin, Peter Lenz and Brian Elmer literally gutted out a third-place finish to grab the final slot for state.
This will be the second year in a row that the 1,600 team has made it for the Spartans and there was no better feeling of making it, even though the team was gassed afterwards.
“It doesn’t feel good at all,” a winded Elmer said. “But the reward for it is a lot better than what the punishment is of feeling that bad. State was definitely our goal and we did it. It was totally worth it.”
Now, those that made it get a chance to race in the mecca of Wisconsin track and field in La Crosse next week. For all of those that made it, the feeling of doing it, making it to state, is hard to put into words.
“It feels pretty awesome,” Weiler said. “It’s kind of unreal, actually. It hasn’t quite hit me yet but I’m really excited about it.”