The state meet in La Crosse this year was really good for our kids.
Many of them have never been down there so it was a really cool experience for them, as well as a great motivator for our season next year. They are all very hungry to get back down there for state next year.
One thing that people do not realize is that it is sometimes very difficult to perform your best at the state meet for a number of reasons. First of all, there were 2,778 high school athletes from around the state that were competing — not to mention a lot of college coaches that were on a talent scout.
There is a lot of pressure on the athletes to do well because the competition is at a whole different level and the temperatures were through the roof. It was a high of 89 degrees on Friday, but on the rubber track and turf field, it was easily 100+ degrees while the kids were running. The heat was definitely a factor in this race as well, as it was exactly in the middle of the day when the temperatures were almost at their peak.
When we train up here in the “North” we do get used to competing and working in cooler temperatures. At sectionals it was 50 degrees, and state brought about almost a 40-degree jump. It takes a tough athlete to compete against the intense competition at state, but the elements do play a factor sometimes. I teach my athletes to ignore the elements as much as possible and focus on what they are there to do and a lot of them have embraced this.
Sierra Clifford competed in the 400-meter dash on Friday and placed 15th overall. She did not make a personal best time, but she ran a great race for sure. At the state level and even at the sectional level, the 400-meter dash becomes a contest to see who can sprint the longest without their body breaking down and their legs turning to Jello.
I asked her how her race went once she caught her breath and she said, “The first half was pretty good, but when I started the second 200-meters, it felt like my feet were on fire and my legs got super heavy.” In the track world, we call that “wearing cement shoes” and that’s exactly what happened with the heat. But she pushed through and ran her best and that is what makes a good 400 runner.
Tanner Johnson competed in the 300-meter intermediate hurdles and placed 13th overall. Tanner did not run a personal best time either, but he was happy with how he ran. He is one of my guys who works so hard in practice and in meets, and it was his long-term goal to get to state this year after missing it last year as a sophomore.
All his hard work definitely paid off for him. He eats, sleeps and breathes track and field so it was already an amazing experience for him. When I asked him how his race went, he said, “Holy cow it’s hot out there. Sierra wasn’t kidding! I mean, I feel like I ran a great race and I tried to not let the heat get to me and it worked for a little bit, but that last home stretch was pretty brutal.”
The girls 4-by-400-meter relay team of Sierra Clifford (sophomore), Ana Johnson (freshman), Holly Miller (sophomore) and Hailey Miller (senior) ran on Friday with a new personal best time of 4:10.66 and placed 12th overall. This was a very intense race, as the 4-by-400 always is. The girls on this team really love this race, though, and it was very apparent when they ran on Friday. Each of them laid it all out there on the track and ended up running a whole 2 seconds faster than they had the week before.
They are now ranked No. 4 on the Hayward Top 10 All-Time record board for the relay. It was all four of these girls’ first time at the WIAA State Track Meet (as an athlete) and they had such a great time. I was really happy to be able to share that experience with them, and you can bet that Sierra, Ana and Holly are going to come into next season with their goals set very high for themselves, and for the 4-by-400 relay.
The Girls 4-by-800-meter relay Team of Ingrid Sokup (sophomore), Nel Hanson (junior), Eliana Malnourie(sophomore) and Hailey Miller (senior) ran on Saturday with a time of 9:50.13, breaking their school record that they set the previous week-by one second. They placed 11th overall.
This race was absolutely crazy. Sometimes people think that the 4-by-800 relay is not that exciting because it is a longer-distance race, but man, this one was intense. With each girl that ran, we changed places in the rankings each time. All of the girls went really hard in this race because at the State meet, you have no other choice but to do exactly that. You have to pull out all the stops and leave it all out on the track and that’s what they did.
Just like the 4-by-400 relay, all of those girls will be coming back except our senior, Hailey Miller, so I’m very excited for the opportunity to work with the girls next year.
Riley Dobbs competed in the long jump and the triple jump and placed second in the triple jump with a distance of 44 feet 2 inches. It is not his farthest jump of the season but Coach Teri Gedart and I were very pleased with his performance. He placed second overall out of the whole state, Division 2, and that is a very big deal.
Riley has been a huge part of our guys’ team for the past two years and is our top-scoring male track athlete for 2019. He is an extremely humble athlete and will be greatly missed at Hayward, but I am happy that he will be attending UW-La Crosse in the fall and will be continuing his track career at the collegiate level.
Riley is the school record-holder for both the men’s long jump (21-10.5) and men’s triple jump (44-08). He is also on the state qualifying school record men’s 4-by-400 relay team from 2018 (3:27.67).
Chase Roehl also competed in the long jump and the triple jump this year. He did not make it on the podium this year like he did last year, but what was really awesome for Chase this year was that he is the only person on the team who has qualified for the WIAA State Track meet three years in a row. That in itself is a huge accomplishment, to be a “3-peat” athlete, especially in a more individual sport like track.
Chase has worked extremely hard during his high school career to get to this point, and this year was an even bigger challenge for him because he was out for three weeks with no competition and very little training earlier in the season. Coach Gedart and I are very proud of what he has done for the team during his time at Hayward, and are happy to see him continuing his track and field career at UW-La Crosse this fall.