The Post-Crescent coverage area had four individuals win six championships along with four championship relay teams and an overall team champion.
Winning individual titles were Freedom’s Lydia Merrick in the Division 2 high jump, Hortonville’s Ben Smith in the Division 1 shot put, Winneconne’s Ayden Hart in the Division 2 110 hurdles and 300 hurdles, and Shiocton’s Cade Stingle in the Division 3 110 and 300 hurdles.
Shiocton also captured the Division 3 boys team title with 38 points.
The Freedom D2 3,200 girls relay team of Gracie Martzahl, Leigh DeWitt, Macy Verhasselt and Claire Helmila took first with a time of 9 minutes, 28.88 seconds.
There were three D1 boys relay teams taking home gold: Kimberly’s 800 relay of Alejandro Pagan Vega, Jack Schreiber, Kamin Cabana and Jack Statz in 1:27.20; Kaukauna’s 400 relay team with the quartet of Logan Bartolac, Daniel VanDyke, Noah Hofmann and Carson VanDinter clocking in at :41.81; and Neenah’s 1,600 relay team with the foursome of Charles Fredrickson, Owen Wise, Ethan Snider and Grant Dean finishing with a time of 3:18.24.
Freedom’s Merrick captures D2 high jump title
Freedom girls track and field coach James Finster knows a top athlete when he sees one. And Irish sophomore Lydia Merrick certainly fits the description.
Merrick won the D2 high jump, recording a leap of 5-6 on her first attempt at the height. That moved her past Osceola’s Elletta Uddin, who finished with a 5-5.
Merrick was also fourth in the 300 hurdles (:45.41) and ninth in the 100 hurdles (:15.77) and was also the anchor on Freedom’s 1,600 relay team which finished seventh (4:05.43).
“I’m thinking back through the history of some of our athletes − the Bartels, the Hambels, the Pingels and Hofackers, and I think she’s right along there with them,” Finster said. “And she’s a sophomore. (The high jump) was her sixth event performance of the weekend. Not a lot of sophomores have the gumption to be able to come out and do something like this. She’s composed all the way through.”
Merrick said winning the high jump was “very thrilling.”
“I went in tied for first and we definitely knew it was a possibility (to win),” she said. “I didn’t think I’d be jumping 5-6, but I was very pleased with my performance.”
Merrick added she began competing in the high jump in eighth grade and has progressed from a leap of 4-8 to 5-2 last season before tying the school mark with a 5-4 leap heading into the state meet.
And now, Merrick is the school’s record holder at 5-6 and a state champ.
“I don’t know where the limit is for her because she’s at a spot where most kids at a senior you’re hoping to get to this spot and she’s not done,” Finster said. “She’s excited with what she can do. She’s the ultimate team player and she works hard. She’s great.”
Hortonville’s Smith repeats as shot put champion
Losing out on repeating as the Division 1 discus champ Friday offered plenty of fuel for Ben Smith to get the job done in the shot put Saturday.
Smith successfully defended his shot put title, recording a toss of 66 feet, 11.5 inches on his sixth attempt to claim the gold.
“Coming from last night and getting that push and motivation I needed, I was ready to compete and throw far,” he said. “Unfortunately, I missed the state record by seven inches I think, but I have one more year and ready to come back faster, strong and farther.”
Kimberly’s Sam McGivern (61-1) and Ben Youngworth (59-6.5) were second and third, respectively.
Smith, a junior, flirted with the state mark but fell short of the record of 67-6 set by Green Bay Preble’s Steve Marcelle in 2006.
Smith said losing out on the discus title to Waterford junior Bryce Ruland was tough to swallow. Both surpassed the state record of 193-3 set by Verona’s Luke Sullivan in 1993.
The long rain delays Friday meant Smith was throwing late into the night.
“I mean, the two rain delays were kind of unexpected,” he said. “Looking at the weather, I was ready to throw on time and then having to throw under the lights, as weird and late as it was, it was still fun first time throwing under the lights in the nighttime.
“Bryce is a great thrower and No. 1 in the nation putting me at No. 2. Having both of us in the same state is kind of funny, but it’s good competition.”
Cade, Kendal Stingle cap senior seasons on high note
Another state track meet, another superb performance from Cade and Kendal Stingle.
The seniors are part of the Stingle triplets who, along with sister Ari, are all athletically gifted. Cade repeated as the 110 hurdles champ in D3 with a time of :14.38. He was also the repeat champ in the 300 hurdles (:38.66).
Stingle was also fourth in the 200 dash (:22.44).
“With the 100, I had to get that out of the way,” Cade said. “I wanted to go out with a bang and I obviously showed them what I can do. I was running higher times all year and I finally dropped it at state and I couldn’t be more happy. That was PR.”
Kendal finished second in the 100 (:15.50) and 300 hurdles (:45.73). She was happy with her performance, but also said she’s been struggling to match her times from last season.
“My times this year haven’t really been as fast as they were last year,” Kendal said. “So I know that if I wanted to place good that I would have to try to get to my times from last year. But it just wasn’t happening all year. I knew that I would try my best and achieve what I could achieve and I’m proud to be here.”
Shiocton boys win D3 team title
The Chiefs got all of their points from Stingle and Jacob Klitzke. Stingle totaled 25 points with Klitzke finishing second in the shot put Friday and fourth in the discus Saturday with a throw of 151-0 for 13 points total.
Jon Schwantz, who is in his first year as head coach of the Chiefs after a long coaching career at Omro, said winning the championship was “surreal.”
“I’m excited for the kids,” he said. “I’ve been a teacher for 32 years and involved in sports since I was a little kid. This is what you dream about. An opportunity to share it with a new group of kids. It’s my first year at Shiocton. It’s just a memory of a lifetime. So it’s a little surreal here.”
Stingle said bringing home the gold was a goal.
“I’m super proud right now of my team,” he said. “And my goal this state meet was to bring home a state title, a team award, so I was right there. I was pushing myself and that’s what kept me motivated. Just trying to bring it. And the 200 finish was just the little cherry on top. Just trying to rack up some points.”
Schwantz added that he was impressed with the support from the Shiocton faithful all season for his team.
“I’m proud of them, my coaching staff and the boys,” Schwantz said. “The community of Shiocton has been awesome. They’ve embraced me and my staff and that’s why we’re here today.”
Winneconne’s Hart sweeps D2 hurdles
Ayden Hart of Winneconne captured the Division 2 110 and 300 hurdles titles to give the area another hurdles king.
“It feels great. I’ve worked very hard these past couple of years I’ve been in track,” he said. “I had a lot of – I guess I could say I was pretty nervous coming in here – but after the first stage getting the nerves out, I knew what I could do. I just had to run my race and just have belief in myself, control my controllables and get the job done.”
Hart, a senior, finished in 14.79 seconds in the 110 hurdles to edge Cavan Dobberstein of Fox Valley Lutheran, who was second in 14.81 seconds. He finished the 300 hurdles in 38.97 seconds to beat Jack Erickson of Belleville/New Glarus, who finished second in 39.88 seconds.