WAUPUN — No one for Waupun’s High School track and field team could remember exactly when it was that the Warriors last had a home meet before playing host to Thursday’s Dodge County Invite, but they were certain of one thing.
“It’s been a long time,” Warriors coach Matt Dickhut said.
Thanks to a brand new state-of-the-art track that was finished last summer, the Warriors are back in business. And they christened their new facility in style, with the boys dominating the nine-team field winning 190-104 over runner-up Columbus while the girls came in third with 114 points.
Dickhut & Co. bounced around some guesses as to when the last big meet in Waupun was, but the best they could come up with was that there may have been a few duals or quads at the old high school — now Rock River Intermediate School — in the 1980s or early ’90s but there hasn’t been a big invitational since sometime in the ’70s.
“The last big meet we had would have been the Waupun Relays,” Dickhut said. “And Robin Rens, who is working the finish line, graduated in ’79 and she said they didn’t have it in ’79.”
The Warriors made sure to make this first home meet in forever a memorable one, with the boys taking first in nine of the 17 events — including all four relays— en route to the runaway title and Emily Rens winning the 100-meter dash (13.18 seconds) and long jump (15 feet, 11.5 inches) while also notching second in the 200 (27.68) and as part of the 1,600 relay (4:46.94) on her way to being named the Girls Most Outstanding Athlete.
“It was our first home meet in 40 years and I was like, ‘There’s no way I can lose this,’” Rens said of her mindset beforehand — in particular of wanting to beat rival Alaina Wagner from Mayville, which Rens was able to do in the 100 by a miniscule two one-hundredths of a second. “Beating her was pretty nice and taking first in a couple events at our first home meet was pretty awesome.
“When I get to conference and regionals I go into the meet different and more focused and with this being a special meet for our program I came in with that same mindset. I was pretty excited for it. It was a good feeling.”
Rens also accomplished another feat Thursday — she actually registered a distance in the long jump after disqualifying in all of her previous attempts this season.
“She struggles just hitting the board and not scratching,” Dickhut said. “We have some things that we figured out why and we know it’s going to come, we just have to get outside on the board and actually run — because the only time that we have actually been in the sand is at meets. So when the weather gets a little nicer it’ll click.”
The highlight on the boys side for the Warriors was the 400 relay team of Quintin Winterfeldt, Ben Fisher, Christian Acosta and anchor Jalen Peters taking first — and it wasn’t close — with a time of 44.8, which is an even second off the school record of 43.8 set back in 1984.
And that was in chilly, wet conditions — it didn’t rain hard but enough that the track wasn’t dry — begging the question: How much faster can the team go once the weather warms up?
“I know, right?” Peters answered rhetorically. “We’re really close.”
Other individual winners for the Waupun boys included Fisher in the 200 (23.07), Aaron Schouten in the 400 (56.43, just barely ahead of teammate Christian Hedeen’s runner-up time of 56.59), Josh McLinn in the 800 (2:06.39), Rhyer Smit in the 1,600 (4:53.04) and Jarrod Vis in the pole vault (12-0, a foot clear of teammate Cody Holbach’s runner-up vault of 11-0).
Peters, Graham Gunn, Cole Panzer and Fisher were on the winning 800 relay team (1:36.24) while it was McLinn, Hedeen, Smit and Schouten on the winning 1,600 relay (3:46.08) and McLinn, Hedeen, Smit and Adam Vanderkin on the winning 3,200 relay (8:50.65).
The only other individual winner on the girls side for Waupun was Peyton McGinnis in the 800 (2:40.99).
Columbus may have lost out to the Warriors in the standings, but it was the Cardinals’ Teagan Herschleb who claimed the Boys Most Outstanding Athlete honor.
The junior was a perfect 4-for-4 — only he didn’t know it until well after he was done competing.
“I was very surprised. I wasn’t really expecting that — I thought I lost by a quarter inch, and I was kind of mad that I didn’t get that extra quarter inch,” he said of thinking he took second in the long jump all the way up until the results were announced to the crowd.
Herschleb won the long jump by a good bit, actually, as his best leap of 22-0.5 beat out the runner-up mark of 21-3.75 turned in by Randolph/Cambria-Friesland’s Sawyer Westra. Herschleb also won the triple jump (41-10.5), the 110 high hurdles (16.59) and the 300 intermediate hurdles (45.50).
His crowning accomplishment among the four?
“Probably the 110 hurdles,” he said of bettering his old personal record mark of 16.74. “My start wasn’t great but I still finished pretty strong.
“I just had to sharpen up my form throughout the rest of the race to catch up on my time.”
Last but certainly not least as far as big winners went on Thursday was the Mayville girls team, which stayed unbeaten in four outdoor meets by winning 160-118 over runner-up Columbus.
Cardinals coach Bob Berry said one of the biggest takeaways was how well Courtney Poellot performed.
“That’s the best two legs I’ve ever seen her run,” he said of her anchoring the winning 400 (56.65) and 800 (1:58.65) relay teams. “She came back and won both those races for us when we were behind.”
Meantime, Wagner came back to win the 200 (27.42) after falling to Rens earlier in the 100.
“Wagner’s 200 was awesome,” Berry said. “She was really mad after she got beat in the 100 — she doesn’t like to lose.”
Katelyn Huizenga also had a big day for Mayville, anchoring the winning 3,200 relay (11:13.55), running third on the first-place 1,600 relay (4:34.76), winning the pole vault (8-6) and taking second in the 400 (1:06.89, just barely behind teammate Amber Schraufnagel’s time of 1:06.73).
“That’s the best race that she’s run this year — that’s her best 800 ever,” Berry said of Huizenga’s split in the 3,200 relay.
Joining Huizenga on the two distance relays were Wagner, Firari and Schraufnagel in the 1,600 and Firari, Samantha Falstad and Faith Danner in the 3,200.
And joining Poellot on the two sprint relays were Hannah Nothem, Aliayh Huston and Khaiya Sabel in the 400 and Nothem, Emma Bingen and Sabel in the 800.
The only other individual winner for the Cardinals girls team was Syd Schultz in the shot put (35-3).
Other area girls to finish first were Central Wisconsin Christian’s Olivia Ruis in the 300 hurdles (54.23) and Mady Friese in the high jump (5-0) as well as Columbus’ Megan Huber in the discus (112-10) and Ada Basten in the triple jump (29-9.5).
On the boys side, other area winners were Westra in the 100 (11.46), Columbus’ Sam Coughlin in the shot put (42-0) and Mayville’s Jackson Mittelstadt in the high jump (6-0).