While Manitowoc County’s prep track and field coaches undoubtedly have their hands full each year in preparing their qualifiers for the annual WIAA Track and Field Championships, this year many are facing the challenge of getting first-time qualifiers ready for the chaotic atmosphere they will be greeted by on Friday and Saturday at Veterans Memorial Stadium Complex in La Crosse.
Of the 21 Manitowoc County athletes who will be competing, 14 will be experiencing State for the first time.
All three Manitowoc Lincoln qualifiers — Meg Wolowicz (shot put), Sidney Reidl (200-meter dash) and Miranda Gove (3,200) — will be experiencing their first State in Division 1, and coach Rick Ducat has purposefully been keeping them in the dark of what the event entails.
“The biggest expectation for them, being sophomores, is to go in and enjoy the experience and find out what it is all about in hopes they will use it next year and to show the team what it takes to get there,” Ducat said. “I don’t want them to fear the meet, I want them to enjoy it. We’ve been focusing on going out and running our best and seeing how many people they can beat.”
Like Lincoln, Two Rivers’ three Division 2 qualifiers are first-time qualifiers — senior Ashton Novy (pole vault), junior Carly Terp (3,200) and sophomore Kristy Terp (3,200). The Raiders’ boys coach, Scott Helling, said Novy has attended State as a spectator and, if he can do what he’s done in the past three meets, will be in great shape. Girls coach Amy Gallagher said the week leading up to State has been nice for her pair because there haven’t been any other meets.
“At this point I told them you have to treat it like any other race because for them I think it will be. They are capable of running with anyone and I don’t think anyone in the field will run away with it,” Gallagher said of the Terps. “We are approaching it like any other race and looking at it like we have never run this rested. They are peaking and have done as much training as anyone and now they get the chance to put that to work and let the week unfold and go run.”
Kiel girls coach Jamie Arenz and boys coach Trent Agnew are in a similar situation in that their Division 2 runners are first timers — freshman Kayla Lallensack (200) and junior Aaron Field (200).
“I think anyone that young, the first time you have to go there and enjoy the experience and soak it in,” Arenz said of the area’s only freshman qualifier. “(Lallensack) came out of nowhere and was a pleasant surprise for us, so we want her to treat it as another meet and soak it all in and as she moves throughout her career she can build off of it.”
Field has at least experienced State as a spectator, so Agnew said he expects Field to be prepared and compete in a tight field.
“There is such a close field down there, so if he runs well he could do well, if he doesn’t run well he could not make the finals. It’s up to however he runs,” Agnew said. “He knows what he is getting into. We have just been working a lot on starts this week so hopefully that helps.”
Also with two new qualifiers is Reedsville in Division 3 — sophomores Grant Wedepohl (800) and Chloe Eckstein (discus).
“(Wedepohl) is in the fast heat and has always welcomed competition,” Reedsville boys coach Steve Sturtz said in an email. “Our goal is to place in the top six and make the awards stand.”
Valders’ Division 2 qualifiers are the most experienced locals as senior Michael Evans (1,600) returns along with fellow members of the 3,200 relay senior Joey Kinscher and Joey Krizek. The relay’s other member, sophomore Derek Doescher, is making his first appearance.
“My expectations are always the same at the regional, sectional and State level and that is to (set personal records) and let the rest happen,” Valders coach Jesse Schneider said in an email. “Obviously every coach wants them to win and get to the podium, as do I, but you can’t get there if you don’t have constant PR’s. This is a team concept for us. To improve/PR in meets means you are getting better and that helps the team get better.”
In Division 3, Manitowoc Lutheran has the most local qualifiers as junior Rachel Winter (200 and 400) and senior Sara Herzog (300 hurdles) have prior State experience while sophomore Brooke Roberts (discus) is making her first appearance. The Lancers also qualified the 3,200 relay team of Kane Neubauer, Reuben Vogt, Connor Rehbein and Philip Krahn with Neubauer the only one with prior State experience.