Jose Guzman entered the track and field season last year not sure if he could even be the fastest 400-meter runner on his team.
The Ashwaubenon junior’s outlook has changed quite a bit since then.
Guzman is going into this season with the intent on making a run at the fastest time in state history for the event.
“I’m really trying to get the state record this year,” Guzman said.
“Last year, I didn’t have much confidence at all. My coaches could tell you that, too. I have a lot more confidence this year, knowing my time and what I can do now.”
Guzman has done a lot already in his high school career, including winning the WIAA Division 1 state title in the 400 last year with a blazing time of 47.53 seconds, which broke the 27-year-old Green Bay metro record of 47.91 seconds set by Green Bay Southwest’s Dave Coates in 1989.
“Jose has matured a lot from last year to this year,” said Coates, who is Ashwaubenon’s sprints coach.
“I don’t know if the state title had anything to do with that, but there is more responsibility on his part. He’s got a little bit of a target on his back now, and he’s definitely approaching this season with more maturity than he did last year. He knows what he wants to do. He’s got his goals set and doing what he has to do to go after them.”
Guzman is aiming to take down one of the oldest records at the WIAA state track and field meet in trying to repeat as the D1 champion for the 400 this year.
The state record in the event is 47.12 seconds, which was set by Nicolet’s Bryan Jones in 1990. It’s the fourth-oldest boys record at the WIAA state meet and the second oldest among running events.
There also hasn’t been a repeat champion in the 400 for the state’s largest division or class since Hartland Arrowhead’s Steve Sarsfield accomplished the feat by winning back-to-back Class A titles in 1986 and 1987. Green Bay East’s Ray Neosh won two Division 1 state titles in the event in 1993 and 1995.
“Jose wants to break 47 (seconds), which I think he’s completely capable of,” Coates said. “That just takes another level of workout to speed things up. At the end, he’s the one that has to run the race.”
Guzman has received interest from several NCAA Division I programs after posting a 400 time that ranked in the top 10 in the nation for his age group last year, according to athletic.net.
He started to flash his potential at that distance as a freshman in being a leg on the Jaguars’ 1,600-meter relay team, which won the WIAA state title with a school-record time of 3:17.23 in state preliminaries.
Guzman served as the anchor leg last season, helping the relay reach the state podium again with a fourth-place finish.
“He’s come in in the best shape he’s been so far in three years now,” Ashwaubenon head coach Cal Kromm said. “His fitness is probably the best it has been. It’s one of those things that last year he wasn’t sure if he should be there because it was (senior) Nate Holly’s (race) until he started beating Nate. He owns it now and goes, ‘I know what I have to do.’”
Guzman will be doing the 200 again this season. He led the Green Bay-area last year with a time of 22.39 seconds in it.
The standout runner also will be adding the long jump to his event load.
“I really didn’t think I could get to where I am now,” Guzman said. “But I’m just going to keep going with it because I still have another year to go.”
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Who else to watch this season
Gavin Buergi, jr., G.B. Preble: Was one of two sophomores last season in the Division 1 field to qualify for the WIAA state track and field meet in the 100-meter dash. The FRCC champion advanced to the state finals and finished ninth. His state-qualifying time of 11.10 seconds at sectionals led the Green Bay area last year.
Josh Pillath, sr., Coleman: The University of North Dakota recruit recorded 34 points to help the Cougars win a share of the WIAA Division 3 state title last year. The Wisconsin Track Coaches Association male athlete of the year was the only individual at the state meet in any division competing in a running, jumping and throwing event in addition to being one of only two competitors to medal in four individual events. Pillath will be attempting to repeat as D3 state champion in the high jump (6 feet, 6 inches) and 110 hurdles (14.83 seconds). He also was the D3 state runner-up in the 300 hurdles (40.16) and placed third in the discus (165-0).
Cordell Tinch, jr., Bay Port: Won FRCC, regional and sectional titles in becoming a four-event D1 state qualifier last year. His personal-best performances in the 110 hurdles (14.76), high jump (6-7), long jump (22-0) and triple jump (44-7¼) led the area. Tinch earned D1 state medals in the 110 hurdles (sixth) and high jump (fourth). He finished seventh on the state honor roll in the high jump, 11th in the 110 hurdles and 17th for both the long and triple jump.
Tannor Wagner, sr., Ashwaubenon: The University of Wisconsin recruit led the state honor roll last season with a time of 4:10.31 in the 1,600. He’s aiming to become a four-time state qualifier in the event and win his first WIAA state title after placing fifth last year. Wagner led the area and was 11th on the state honor roll in the 800 (1:55.04) last year, advancing to state in the event for the first time. He also served as a leg on the Jaguars’ 1,600 relay, which placed fourth at state.