LA CROSSE — Daniel LaLuzerne accomplished his biggest goal on Friday when the Green Bay Preble track star finished fifth in the Division 1 3,200-meter relay team during the first day of the WIAA state track and field meet.
So when he returned for the D1 800 on Saturday, the Hornets senior didn’t feel burdened by pressure in his final go-round at Veterans Memorial Stadium.
That mentality paid off when LaLuzerne took third in the event in 1 minute, 55.72 seconds. While he’s medaled twice in cross-country and three times in the 3,200 relay, Saturday marked the first time the future University of Wisconsin runner won an individual event at the state track meet.
Wisconsin Lutheran senior Eric Brown II won the event for the third straight year in 1:54.78.
“I feel pretty good,” said LaLuzerne, a four-time state qualifier. “It wasn’t the greatest start and even the first 500 until the backstretch is where I got out and started to pass people. We always preach on going with 300 left, so that’s kind of when I started to go. It was all right, but I feel like if I would have got a little better start I would’ve been with those two top guys.”
LaLuzerne ran the opening leg of last year’s 3,200 relay that broke the school record (7:46.60). To be able to win his own medal was special, but placing again in the relay Friday is what LaLuzerne will remember the most.
“To get an individual medal is really cool,” LaLuzerne said. “But it was so awesome to celebrate the (3,200 relay) title with the guys and just be super happy together. It’s pretty cool, but there’s some cooler things like the 4×8 is pretty awesome.”
McGuire breaks brother’s record: The volunteer in charge of holding Dylan McGuire’s blocks for the D2 boys 400 race was more nervous than the Luxemburg-Casco senior was.
That’s because it was his older brother, Dean, who is a member of the University of Wisconsin-La Crosse’s Division III mens national championship team that was working at the state meet.
“It was awesome,” Dylan said. “When I jogged down here and saw him holding my blocks, it was great to see.”
Dylan McGuire broke his older brother’s school record at L-C by placing fifth in the 400 with a time of 49.04. Dean set the previous mark of 49.53 in 2013, when he placed third as a senior.
McGuire was a sophomore that year, but played baseball. He changed sports after his older brother encouraged him to.
“I wouldn’t be doing track if it wasn’t for him, so that was awesome,” said McGuire, who just missed winning a second state medal as the anchor leg on L-C’s 1,600 relay team, which finished seventh.
The Spartans’ 400 relay, however, did reach the podium with a sixth-place finish.
In D3, Crivitz placed in both the 800 relay (fifth) and the 400 relay (sixth).
Brotherly love: C.J. Pillath is familiar with the state podium.
The Coleman senior became a four-time place-winner in the D3 shot put on Saturday by placing fourth with a throw of 53-3 1/2. What was different for Pillath this year at state was watching his teammates compete at the event as well.
After being the Coleman boys team’s only state qualifier the previous three years, Pillath got to compete in the discus with his teammate and best friend, Collin Kempka, on Friday.
On Saturday, he got to watch his younger brother, Josh, place third in the high jump with a leap of 6-3.
“It’s exciting having someone else other than myself down here,” said Pillath, who holds Coleman’s school record in the shot put (55-3 1/2) and will compete in track and field at UW-Superior.
Josh credits his older brother for his strong finish to the season.
“Watching (C.J.) really gave me the drive to come down here and compete,” Josh said. “It wasn’t my best jump. But it’s exciting to get that high on the podium as a sophomore.”
Mirror image: Jacob and Matthew Wahlers had the same thing on their mind entering their first state appearance.
The identical twin brothers wanted to bring a couple state medals back to Algoma.
Jacob took fifth in the D3 1,600 in a school-record 4:24.78, while Matthew edged out Sevastopol senior Joe Bruno to finish sixth in the D3 800 in 1:57.96. Throughout the event, the brothers were in each other’s corner.
“It gives us more support because we know each other’s feelings,” Jacob said. “We can tell what we’re thinking in our heads. I don’t know how that works, but it’s pretty awesome actually.”
The sophomores will see a lot more of each other next fall, when Matthew plans to join Jacob on the cross-country team.
Bates’ best: Gillett senior Akeem Bates decided to try something new with his long jump on Saturday.
After backing up 3 more feet on his approach, Bates smashed his personal-best mark in the long jump with a 20-111/2 leap, earning him a fourth-place finish in D3. It came one day after he placed sixth in the triple jump.
“I just tried it here,” said Bates of his change. “That one came out of nowhere. The adrenaline was pumping, I guess.”
Ref recognition: Long-time area official Bob Bins of New Franken was a starter for the first time at the state meet. He served as one of the meet’s seven officials.