The Wisconsin Valley Conference track season ended Tuesday with the two most dominant teams in the conference picking up another trophy.
The Wausau West girls and Stevens Point Area Senior High boys won the WVC outdoor meet championships at Stiehm Stadium to go along with the indoor and relay titles the programs won earlier this spring. The day also was a chance to gain some momentum going into next week’s pressure-filled WIAA regionals and sectionals that athletes have to advance through to get to state.
Marshfield’s Keiron Howlett showed he is ready for a return trip to state set the lone record at the meet as he won the long jump with a leap of 22 feet, 11 inches. He broke the previous mark, which has stood since 1975, by 1.5 inches.
SPASH’s Tyler Kraeger got a momentum boost as well as he won the boys pole vault by tying a personal best of 14-feet. He sees next week as a shot of redemption after a disappointing end to his season last year.
“Fourteen (feet) this whole year has been a huge mental barrier, and last meet I was able to finally push past it and clear it, so that was a huge confidence booster,” Kraeger said. “To do it again today, plus to win (the event) gives me a lot of momentum and a big boost going into next week.
“I’m going to try and stay as relaxed as I can. This regionals meet is going to be redemption for me because I know how I did last year and that was a big upset,” Kraeger said. “I was supposed to go to state last year but some fluke happened and I no-heighted. This year I’m going to get after it.”
Wisconsin Rapids’ Loren Abbrederis finished third in the girls high jump, just missing on her attempt for a personal record at 5-2, and second in the 100 hurdles.
The junior has battled knee and hip injuries the past two seasons, and missed last year completely, and Tuesday’s performance gave her confidence going into next week.
“I felt pretty confident with today. I know I pushed myself,” Abbrederis said. “I’m really excited for regionals next week. My goal is to make it to sectionals, and on to state. I will be happy if I can just push my self to the best and set a (personal record).”
Athletes aren’t the only ones dealing with pressure now
Coaches need to have their rosters finalized by Thursday morning for next week’s regional and sectional meets. Teams have a maximum of 28 spots for individual events and six spots for each of the four relays.
“I’ve put something together on paper and I have to talk to a few kids tonight. There’s a few that come down to the borderline and you have to make a decision,” Wausau West girls coach John Masanz said. “It’s a balancing act of who’s going to possibly advance to state and have the opportunity to place well at state, building a great team for the future and giving the kids the opportunity for one more competition.”
Marshfield boys coach Dennis Goettl has a question with his lineup as one of his top sprinters — Riley Gebelein — has been battling ankle injuries all season, and has run only a few meets this season. He tweaked his ankle this past week and was not in the lineup on Tuesday.
“We’re still waiting on Riley, if he gets better by Monday, if we can run him in one of our relays, and see if we can pull Keiron down to one,” Goettl said. “There’s still some things that we’re trying to do.”
Tim Johnson can be reached at 715-845-0731. Find him on Twitter as @timmyjo11