Janesville state track qualifiers slowed by tough sectional conditions
Mother Nature made a trip to the podium at this weekend’s state meet a difficult task for Janesville track and field athletes.
Running down the backstretch against winds up to 50 mph at the Division 1 Waterford Sectional resulted in considerably slower times for state qualifiers. Janesville Craig and Janesville Parker athletes are among those affected.
Craig senior Tommy Meister, the defending state champion in the 800 meters, won’t even run in the fast heat today at the WIAA state meet in La Crosse. Meister, a Duke University recruit, won the sectional title with a time of 2:00.67 but is seeded only 22nd at state. Seymour’s Sean Wagner is the top seed at 1:56.13. Parker’s Brad Money, who was sixth a year ago at state, will also run in Meister’s heat today.
“That’s the hardest wind I’ve ever coached in my 34 years,” Craig girls coach Mark Marsden said. “It was unbelievable. Almost to the point where you had to hold on to something or the wind would knock you over.
“It’s really unfortunate because a number of Janesville runners, and even field event athletes, had some of the state’s best times and throws during the season. And for a runner, it’s really tough to do well at state if you’re not running in a favorable lane or heat.”
Despite the tough conditions at the sectional meet, a number of Janesville athletes should make an appearance on the podium. Craig’s 3,200 relay team of Meister, Joe Sarow, Spencer Hrycay and Evan Lalor is seeded second in the event, while Meister is seeded fifth in the 1,600.
Craig freshman Ian Reinicke is seeded second in the triple jump, and the Cougars’ Alli Calkins is the second seed in the girls triple jump.
Parker’s Trever Steinke, who broke a longtime school record in the shot put, is seeded seventh.
Marsden set to retire
Mark Marsden’s retirement next week will end one of the most successful runs of a track and field coach in the state.
The longtime girls coach at Craig put together an impressive resume in a 34-year career. Marsden won 14 conference titles between stints in the Little Ten, Big Rivers and Big Eight. He also coached at Menomonie and Beaver Dam before taking over at Craig.
“It has always been about the kids, and that’s what I’m going to miss the most,” Marsden said. “Although track isn’t the only sport I’ve coached, it’s the one I’m going to miss the most.
“As I look back on what has been an absolutely incredible 34 years in track, I keep coming back to the wonderful kids I’ve gotten to know over the years. In fact, when I move to Phillips this summer, I may see if they would need a volunteer coach.”
Marsden won’t be just a spectator at this weekend’s state meet in La Crosse. A number of Cougar girls qualified for state and will rely on Marsden for race strategy or how to make a couple of minor adjustments in the field events.
“I can’t think of a better way to go out than with this group at the state meet,” Marsden said. “We’ve got some terrible lane assignments because of the wind we ran against at the sectional meet, but these girls have responded time and time again this season.”
Enjoy your retirement Mark Marsden. You’ve earned it.
Rock Valley has talent
The Rock Valley Conference continues to throw its weight around in track and field, and it should be no different at this weekend’s WIAA Division 2 state meet in La Crosse.
Led by defending state discus champion Heather Clankie of Brodhead/Juda, the Rock Valley figures to load up on medals in field events. A number of Rock Valley athletes are seeded in the top five in both boys and girls field events.
Clankie, a senior, is seeded second in the discus with a throw of 137 feet. Whitewater senior Molly Griep is the top seed at 147-4. Walworth Big Foot senior Alyssa Lueck is the top seed in the shot put at 43-0.75, while Griep is third at 42-2.75.
Whitewater’s strong tradition in the pole vault continues with junior Cody Fiedler the third seed in boys competition at 13-9, and the Whippets’ Shaundra Rasmussen and Allison Mathews seeded eighth and 10th, respectively, in the girls pole vault.
East Troy’s Cody Zaeske is the top seed in both the boys long jump and triple jump, while teammate D.J. Sweet is second in the long jump.
Orfordville Parkview’s Ben Davisson enters state as the top-seeded high jumper in Division 2. The junior cleared 6-5 at the sectional meet.
Beloit Turner’s Zach Sherrod has the fastest qualifying time in Division 2 in both the 100 and 200.
In Division 1, Milton’s A.J. Natter (discus) and Riley Kovars (long jump, triple jump) are ranked in the top five.