LA CROSSE—Going to the WIAA Div. 1 State Track and Field Meet as a defending champion is a bit of a different experience. There are more expectations, more eyes on you and your goals can go beyond winning a state title.
That was the case for Baraboo senior Josie Schaefer on Friday, who still has plenty to smile about as she came away with her second consecutive state championship in the girls discus.
Schaefer stepped up to the circle as the clear favorite, boasting a 32-foot seed advantage over her next best competitor, D.C. Everest’s Natalie Mohring. Schaefer launched the disc into the 160 foot range on a couple of occasions, and threw her farthest of 163 feet, eight inches on her third try to give her the title. Schaefer said she had a sigh of relief after becoming state champ once again.
“It’s awesome. Everybody expected it to happen, and was like can she do it? So it’s good to have it lifted off my shoulders,” she said. “I think everybody was expecting some farther throws so that’s a little disappointing to know that they were disappointed. But I’m really excited to go out on top and be on the podium with Kelsey (Judge) is a great way to end the high school discus career. So I can’t be too down about that.”
Schaefer was just one of many headlights on the day, as senior Kelsey Judge recorded a fourth place finish in the discus with a throw of 130-03. The throw was only an inch farther from her performance at last year’s state meet, but it jumped her up two spots from 2016’s sixth place finish.
“I’m pretty excited, that’s better than I did last year and it’s just exciting to get back to hitting 130 (feet) again,” Judge said. “With my first few throws, my first three, I wasn’t speedy to my finish like I should have been. And on my last few I adjusted that and started to really getting some torque.”
Baraboo girls coach Annie Hinkhouse was more than proud of Schaefer and Judge.
“Those girls deserve to be up there (on the podium). They’ve worked so hard these last four years and I know it’s tough when there’s a lot of pressure there for Josie, and a lot to Kelsey too when they’re coming back there multiple years.”
Schaefer said she also felt some pressure to potentially beat the state meet record of 169-10, but a steady tailwind got in the way.
“We had a crosswind in the first flight and it just turned right back around into a tailwind during my flight. But that’s for everybody. Unfortunately you can only get that record here on this day, at this time, so that’s tough.”
Schaefer, who easily won the title as Mohring came in second with a 134-02, said she still wasn’t satisfied.
“I kind of lost some separation on a couple of throws and my left arm came a little early and then that last throw my left arm came up so high and the disc went straight up. So things to improve on.”
Meanwhile, three other seniors on the girls side ended their track careers on Friday in the 4x100-meter relay. Senior Kaylee Mueller, sophomore Jamie Runnels, and seniors Hannah Crowe and Emily Kieck finished in the middle of the pack, taking 17th place in preliminaries with a time of 50.27. The quartet finished seven spots back from qualifying for finals.
“It’s such a tough relay. You just never know what you’re going to get. It comes down to the handoffs and any little thing can change on how you finish,” said Hinkhouse on the 4x100. “The girls did exactly what they needed to, I know they wanted to be a little faster in their time but I’m proud of them, they put it out there.”
Crowe also placed 21st in the 300-meter hurdles (:48.00).
It will be a day to remember for both Schaefer and Judge, who raced back to Baraboo to walk across the state at Baraboo High School’s graduation. The duo will make the trip back to UW-La Crosse however, as they will both compete in the girls shot put on Saturday. Schaefer is seeded first with a 46-05 3/4 while Judge is seeded 15th with a 38-08 3/4. The two will be joined by teammate Hannah Braun, who is seeded with a 37-06 1/2 for her first trip to state.
“I think anything can happen. A lot of those girls compete together semi year-round, and they all know each other,” said Hinkhouse on the shot put. “Tomorrow we’ll bring I’m sure everybody’s best.”
Schaefer said she’s eager for the event, as she looks to improve from her fourth place finish last year.
“I’m really excited. Shot has been going well this year, so I’m excited to compete with some adrenaline and a great group of girls and some tough competition. I’m ready.”
Podium finish for Kody Weiland
On the boys’ side, Baraboo’s Kody Weiland got his busy meet off to a fast start on Friday. The senior qualified for the long jump finals, then broke through and finished fourth overall with a jump of 23-03.5, just short of his personal record of 23-04.
“I built into it,” Kody said. “Prelims went alright, and then finals I really left it out there. … I had about a 24-foot jump, I just scratched by a little. But it’s pretty good, I wanted to podium and that’s what I got.”
Kody was one of six athletes to reach the 23-foot mark on Friday, finishing behind Bay Port’s Cordell Tinch (24-02.25), Oak Creek’s James Carter (23-06) and Germantown’s Shon Pratcher (23-04.25).
While Schaefer and Judge had climbed the podium before, it was a new experience for Weiland, and he relished it.
“It’s awesome, it’s been the goal,” Kody said. “Just being up there looking at all the fans and everything, it’s something else.”
Baraboo boys coach Tom Leaver said that Kody has been building toward this moment for awhile.
“He really proved that he belonged at this level,” Leaver said. “He was going 22-05 at the indoor state meet at UW-Whitewater and he’s re-broken his school record a number of times this season. He’s been upper echelon all season.”
Immediately after stepping off the podium, Kody got set to run the 200-meter dash, taking 14th overall in 22.54 seconds.
Kyle Weiland added an 11th-place finish in the long jump (22-3.75), just a half inch away Middleton’s Aaron Richardson, who finished 10th with a mark of 22-04.25.
Coming so close to qualifying for the long jump finals appeared to fuel Kyle when the gun fired for the 300-meter hurdles. The senior crossed the line in 38.74 seconds to win his heat and lower his own school record from 39.01 seconds.
“That kind of ticked Kyle off, because he came back with a vengeance in the 300-meter hurdles,” Leaver said. “He wants to get up on that podium tomorrow like his brother did today.”
Kyle will enter Saturday’s finals with the second-fastest qualifying time, trailing only Eau Claire Memorial’s Drake Schneider (38.05).
The Weilands joined Evan Vodak and Connor Grogan to put together a school-record time of 1:29.51 in the 4x200-meter relay. The T-Birds came up three spots short of qualifying for finals, finishing 13th overall while Menomonee Falls took the final qualifying time with a 1:28.97.
“You can’t do anything more than run the fastest time in school history at the state meet,” Leaver said.