Fall Creek boys' track win WIAA Division 3 sectional title, girls take third
By Sean Scallon
MONDOVI - It was a new coaching staff which took over the track and field program at Fall Creek High School last season, a spring after COVID-19 had shut everything down.
And while last year's squad had success it was a getting-to-know-you process for the athletes and coaches in general, especially with the season truncated as it was.
"We've just gotten to know each other better, the coaches and all our teammates and get used to each other," FC senior Kael Sanfelippo said. "We've had a normal season now and we've had the time to put in the work and get better and that's why we've done so well."
Fall Creek didn't quite get the sweep they wanted with sectional titles for both boys and girls as they've gotten in nearly all their meets this season but they came awful close. FC won the boys title of the WIAA Division 3 Mondovi Sectional Meet held last week Thursday, May 26 with 61 points to Mondovi's 59 and Lancaster's 52. The Cricket girls placed third behind Lancaster's 72.5 points, Kickapoo/LaFarge's 64 with FC scoring 63 points.
"I'm very proud of all our athletes," FC head coach Terry Anders said. "They're all good athletes but they've put in a lot of hard work in practice and weightlifting and just improving themselves with faster times or further throws, jumps or heights and it's paid off with the success we've had."
Augusta placed 11 in the boys;' meet with 23 points while Eleva-Strum and Osseo-Fairchild were unable to score points. Augusta had six points in the girls' meet, Eleva-Strum three and Osseo-Fairchild had zero.
FC secured the meet title by finishing fifth in the 1600-meter relay to go ahead of Mondovi which did not qualify in this event from regionals. But the key to the Crickets' win was victory in the 3200-meter relay in a record time of 8:27.73. Junior Tyler Kleinhans and senior Eric Steinke had the Crickets up front after the first two legs of the relay with junior Stewart Gundry taking the lead on runner-up Boscobel in the third leg and then the senior Sanfelippo brining it home with a kick at the end which edged out Ben Bohringer at the finish line.
Coming as it did early in the meet, the win was a huge confidence boost for Fall Creek according to Anders.
"Winning that race was huge to setting a good tone for us and showing we could win the whole meet," Anders said. "All year they've been running 800 times between 2:13 to 2:17 and today they dropped to 2:06 to 2:07. They really put forth their best effort when they had to."
FC's 3200 team went to state last season and had a goal of not just getting back to La Crosse as they will for this weekend's state meet at Veterans Memorial Stadium but doing well.
"I saw Stewart out in front and it was like a bolt of energy hit me," Sanfelippo said. "I was so fired up because I knew we could win it and I ran with a lot of adrennaline that got me through to the end. I'm speechless really because we went to state last year I knew we could do it again but we also want to place as well and we have a good chance at it."
Indeed, FC comes into the state meet with the fifth fastest time (Ozaukee has the fastest at 8:17.41) and will run in the fast heat in the race that will start the day Saturday at 10 a.m. Fc will need a good showing here and hope to get points from its field events, especially the throws. It's been the shot put and discus where FC loads-up when it comes to scoring for the boys and they didn't disappoint again as they won titles in both events. Senior Soren Johnson took first in the discus with a toss of 167 feet, 11 inches that nearly went into a neighbor's backyard with junior Whittlinger placing fourth and senior Andrew Anderson sixth and in the shot put it was Whittlinger taking first for the first time with a throw of 49-5 with Johnson fourth and Anderson again sixth, 38 points in total just from these two events or over half the Crickets point total in the sectional meet. Both Johnson and Whittlinger are in the top flight in the discus at the state meet with Whittlinger in the top group in the shot put and Johnson the first group but more than capable of throwing towards 50 feet to place at state. The discus event is on Friday, which begins at 3 p.m. and the shot put is on Saturday starting at 10 p.m.
"I knew I had it in me to make that throw and this was good time to do it," Whittlinger said. "I just worked to get better and I did."
Anders said Whittlinger is a good example of the work ethic the team has as he shows up first in the morning in the weight room and they have basically kick him out at night.
"Ryan's really worked hard to improve and be a top-four place winner and Soren settling in this season as our top thrower," Anders said. "Then you have Andy, who broke his arm several months before the season and healed up and was still able to get out there and throw his best. They've been great to count on all season."
Also qualifying for state for the FC boys was junior Leo Hagberg in the triple jump by placing fourth. Other points for FC came from Sanfelippo, sixth in the 400-meter dash and Steinke sixth in the 800-meter run. Also competing for FC in the boys meet were sophomore Jacob Wathke, 10th in the triple jump; sophomore Levi Atkins, 10th in the pole vault; sophomore Isaac Steinke, 12th in the 110-meter high hurdles; Gundry, 12th in the 400; junior Eli Laube, 11th in the 300-meter intermediate hurdles and 10th in the high jump. Hagberg also finished 12th in the long jump and Kleinhans finished 12th in the 800.
For the Fall Creek girls team to have a shot at the sectional they needed junior runner Jenna Anders to have big day on the track and she did so. She won the sectional title in the 1600-meter run in 5:20.97, took second in the 800 and helped the 3200-meter relay team take second as well, a grand total of 26 points in a lot of long distance racing in one meet.
"I sort of take it step by step given how many races I have to run," Jenna Anders said. "Getting to state in the 3200 relay really was a big boost and its fun to run with teammates and accomplish something together. It really helped me with confidence and energy to run today and it was a good day to run."
Anders father was estatic to see her perform at her best in the big meet.
"Very proud of course not just because she won but because she ran with great confidence," Terry Anders said.
Anders thought another FC runner, sophomore Emalie Sorensen, should have also qualified for the 800 as she and Anders were 1-2 after the first lap but claimed a foul in a tangle of runners pushed Sorensen back where she finished fifth.
"It's very disappointing because Emalie ran a great race and deserves to be at state for the work she's put in," Anders said. "But none of the officials saw and you can't use video evidence in a situation like that so we can't file a protest."
But Sorensen will run at state in the 3200 relay on Friday along with junior Megan Johnston and senior Samantha Spencer. Also qualifying for state for FC girls were Spencer in the pole vault finishing fourth; junior Samantha Bann in the high jump placing third and the Crickets' 400-meter relay team of Bann, juniors Kylie VanDong and McKenna Klawitter and senior Katie Kent which placed third. Anders has the fast heat of the 800 and has the eighth best time in the mile run while the 3200 relay team has second fastest time in the state going into the state meet where the event will be ruin on Friday. FC is in the first heat of the 400 prelims. Bann is in the top six of high jumpers and Spencer is in the top eight of pole vaulters.
Also scoring for FC were sophomore Evelyn Bergeron in the high jump, sixth; freshman Alena Sanfelippo in the long jump, eighth; the 800-meter relay, fifth; the 1600-meter relay, seventh; Bann, seventh in the 200-meter dash; junior JaneyAnne Grossinger, eighth in the discus and Spencer, sixth in the triple jump. Also competing in the sectional meet were Sanfelippo in the pole vault ninth and the 200-meter dash 10th; Grossinger, 13th in the shot put; senior Trinity Lontz, 13th in the 100-meter high hurdles; freshman Ella Solfest, 12th in the 400-meter dash; Johnston, ninth in the 300-meter low hurdles.
Augusta will have three qualifiers for the state meet. Senior Bailey Peterson returns again in the 3200-meter run after finishing third at sectionals and Levi White just made the cut to qualify in the 110 HH by finishing fourth. The Beaver boys' 400-meter relay team of seniors Tyler Brixen, Marcus Livingston, White and junior Ben Dickinsen also qualified after placing second. Other Augusta competitors in the sectional meet were the boys' 800 relay team placing fifth and the 1600 relay team finishing seventh.
Eleva-Strum junior Jaden Bautch finished eighth in both the shot put and 100-meter dash. Her teammate senior Madison Schultz finished eighth in the triple jump. Also competing for the Cardinals in the sectional meet were the girls' 800-meter relay, 13th; girls 400 relay, ninth; senior Charlie Dyar, 12th in the 200-meter dash; senior Wyatt Miland, 13th in the 100-meter dash and freshman Jack Preston, 14th in the 800-meter run.
Osseo-Fairchild qualified both its boys and girls 3200-meter relay teams and they finished 15th and 13th respectively. O-F junior Corryn Konkel placed 16th in the high jump.
From the WIAA:
The 126th Wisconsin Interscholastic Athletic Association Boys Track and Field Championships and the 51st Girls Track and Field Championships will be held Friday-Saturday, June 3-4, at the Veterans Memorial Stadium Complex on the campus of the University of Wisconsin-La Crosse. The meet features two sessions Friday. The Division 1 session begins at 9:30 a.m. with the competition proceeding in the order of events, which can be found on the Track & Field Tournament page on the WIAA website. The Division 2 and 3 sessions begin at 3 p.m. The competition resumes Saturday at 9:30 a.m. The order of the finals for each event Saturday begins with Division 3, followed by Divisions 2 and 1, respectively. Ticket prices for the State Track & Field Championship are $11 per session plus online fees, and they are available to be purchased on-line on the WIAA website through GoFan, the WIAA ticketing partner, at: gofan.co/app/school/WIAAWI?activity=Track%20and%20Field. The live stream of the State Meet will be produced by Rush Media on the WIAA.TV portal of the NFHS Network. To purchase a subscription to the live programming, log-on to www.wiaa.tv and click on the subscription image on the home page.
Chetek-Weyerhaeuser and Grantsburg possess the most event entries in Division 3 Boys with eight. Both have participants in six individual events and two relays. Glenwood City, Mondovi and Princeton/Green Lake each have entries in seven events. The Hilltoppers are in five individual events and two relays with the Buffaloes and Tigersharks represented in seven individual events and no relays. There are five individual events and two relays that return champions to the meet this year. Senior Parker Schneider of Durand is the returning champion in both the 800 and 1,600 runs. He enters the State Meet with the fastest qualifying time in the 800 at 1:54.52 and the ninth-swiftest performance at sectionals in the 1,600 at 4:33.57. Senior Brennen Dvorachek of Reedsville also won a pair of events last year and is back to defend the titles earned in the 110 and 300 hurdles. He has the second-fastest qualifying time in the 110 hurdles at 14.98 and the third-quickest seed time in the 300 at 38.81. In both the hurdle events, he’ll need to contend with junior Cade Stingle of Shiocton, who has the fastest qualifying times in both those events at 14.68 and 38.33, respectively, after finishing runner-up to Dvorachek last year. Senior Caden Decker of Athens is poised to contend for his second straight gold medal in the pole vault with the top qualifying performance in the field at 14-3. The Edgar 800 and 1,600 relay teams return in pursuit of a repeat title. The Wildcats have the seventh-best seed time in the 800 relay entering the race at 1:33.27 with the fourth-swiftest time in the 1,600 relay at 3:30.98.
Mondovi Sectional champion Lancaster has representation in 11 events, which leads the division. The Flying Arrows have entries in seven individual events and all four relays. Ladysmith has participants in nine events, including six individual events and three relays. Dodgeland has qualifiers in eight events, having representation in seven individual events and one relay. Seven individual events and two relays feature returning champions. Most notably are the three events won by senior Kayci Martinson of Benton/Scales Mound, Ill. last year. Martenson raced to championships in the 800, 1,600 and 3,200 runs. She also won the 1,600 and 3,200, and placed runner-up in the 800 in 2019. She has posted the best qualifying times this season in the 800 and 1,600 at 2:15.72 and 5:03.68, respectively. She possesses the fifth-fastest qualifying time in the 3,200 run at 11:45.38. In addition, Martenson is a three-time State cross country champion. Junior Steffi Siewert of Deerfield should again contend for the 100 dash championship with the top qualifying time of 12.56 after capturing the crown last year. Junior Kendal Stingle of Shiocton clocked the quickest qualifying time in the 300 hurdles at 46.07 after winning the event a year ago. She should also contend for the 100 hurdles title with one of the top qualifying times. Sophomore Izzy Bender of Fennimore won the high jump title as a freshman last year. A year later, she is back to defend her title with the second-best jump among the qualifiers this season at 5-4. Senior Miranda Firari of Dodgeland is attempting to replicate the feat of winning the pole vault championship back in 2019. She begins competition with the second-best qualifying height of 11-0. The Lancaster 800 relay attempts to defend its title earned last season. The Flying Arrows enter the State Meet with the top qualifying time of 1:47.98 in the event. The Boscobel 3200 relay returns to contend for its second straight title in the event with the fastest seed time of 9:49.62.