LA CROSSE — Being at the WIAA state track and field championships for the first time can be a nervous experience, filled with anxiety and pressure.
Jacob Rowe wasn’t fazed at all.
The Rio senior easily eclipsed his 11th-place seed in the boys triple jump, setting a new school record in the process and closing out his prep career with a podium finish at Veterans Memorial Stadium. Rowe finished sixth in the event with a leap of 43 feet, 1 inch, just an inch outside the top-five, as one of three area athletes to reach the medal stand on the first of the three-day event at UW-La Crosse.
“It’s a nice feeling and you can’t really get much better than that,” Rowe said.
He wasn’t lying.
Rowe surpassed the previous school record mark of 42-8 with his very first jump of the day, a major improvement on his previous season-best mark of 41-9. In his state debut, Rowe said the record-breaking leap was a definite tone setter.
“That was a huge help, coming in with a good jump right away and coasting from there, seeing what’s going on,” he said.
Rowe certainly coasted into the finals as his first jump had him sitting third overall through the first three attempts. He failed to improve from there however, but he certainly came close.
After missing out on 42 feet on his first two attempts of the finals, Rowe broke 43 feet with his final jump, but only by half a foot, and having reached the mark matched by Lancaster’s Preston Noethe in the final round, he was guaranteed a spot on the podium.
“That was the goal for the day — that and trying to get close to the school record. It feels amazing. I’m kind of at a loss for words,” he said.
Alongside Rowe, Randolph/Cambria-Friesland notched a pair of podium finishers in seniors Isaac Albrecht and Griffin Hart. Albrecht medaled in both the 110- and 300-meter hurdles, while Hart made his way to the medal stand in the high jump.
Entering seeded third in the 110 hurdles, Albrecht was right on his seed in the preliminaries, qualifying third. He later held that spot in the finals, crossing in 15.93 seconds to secure the bronze. Albrecht was also at the head of the pack in the 300 hurdles, slipping just one spot off his seed to finish fourth in :41.46.
Like Rowe, Hart was an outside contender in the high jump as he entered seeded 12th with a top height of 6 feet. Hart was clean on his first attempt at the opening three heights, matching his seed, but couldn’t move further as he bowed out at 6-2.
He settled for sixth place in a three-way tie alongside Clear Lake’s Riley Peterson and Fall River’s Clay Blevins.
Hutzler improves in first-ever individual appearance
Rowe wasn’t alone in repping the Vikings’ red and white on Thursday as he was joined by fellow senior Adeline Hutzler, who qualified as an individual for the first time in her career.
Hutzler reached state as a freshman in 2018 as a part of the Vikings’ 800-meter relay. And after losing last season due to the COVID-19 pandemic, taking on state as an individual for the first time felt very different.
“I never came for shot put before so it felt like a completely different kind of meet almost, like I’d never been to state before,” she said.
It didn’t show.
Entering seeded 19th due to extra qualifiers, Hutzler opened her day with a throw of 34-½, which she said was “a foot-and-a-half” personal record.
“It was intimidating, for sure, but then I got out there and that first throw calmed my nerves. It was nice to know that I was ok, she said.
Hutzler later improved on that mark with a 34-2¼ in her final prelims attempt. While it moved her up five spots into 14th place, it didn’t keep her season alive as she missed out on finals.
That didn’t undercut the accomplishment of making state itself, though.
“I came out really good and I was expected to get 19th, which is last, but I went out there and didn’t get last,” she said with a massive smile after everything was done.
While she missed the podium, Hutzler was happy to be able to share in her first-ever individual state experience alongside Rowe, as the pair both played basketball this past winter for the Vikings. It was extra special in the fact she closed out her career with her mom, coach Deb Hutzler, right by her side.
“I’m so thankful my mom has been my coach throughout my whole life because it’s made sports better. It’s just been a lot sweeter. A lot harder to give up, but a lot sweeter,” Addie said.
Bulldogs relish in state debut
After being forced to finish the Div. 3 Princeton/Green Lake sectional meet spread across two days thanks to a rain delay, the Pardeeville boys 1,600 relay team hit the UW-La Crosse track for the first time. While it may not have been the best day for the Bulldogs foursome, it was an experience the team of seniors Tyler Schommer and Spencer Smith, and juniors Devin Seth and Derek Lindert won’t forget.
“It means a lot. It really puts a cherry on top of your high school career,” Schommer said.
The Bulldogs group entered seeded 11th but couldn’t hold on to their place, slipping four spots from the second heat to finish 14th overall with a time of 3:40.98. The group finished just over 2½ seconds outside the top-10, with the heat and wind certainly playing a factor.
Still, Smith said the fact the group got to participate together was “super special.” Seth agreed, especially noting the fact the group lost its chance last season.
“It means a lot to get to finish with those two,” Seth said of the seniors. “We’ve been teammates for three years so it really means a lot.”
“That was our goal from the beginning, to make it to state in the 4x4, and that’s what we did,” Lindert added.
The group wasn’t alone for the Bulldogs as junior Abigail Breneman qualified for state for the first time in the girls discus.
Breneman entered seeded 16th with a throw of 99-2, and while she fell short of that mark, peaking with a throw of 85-8, she held on to her seed position.
Joining Breneman in missing the podium from the area was Randolph/Cambria-Friesland’s Mckenzie Kennedy and Savannah Duckett. Kennedy missed the finals in the 100 hurdles by two spots as she finished in 12th with a time of 17.81 seconds, while Duckett also missed the finals in the 200, finishing 13th in prelims at :27.80.
Follow Sean Davis on Twitter @SDavis_PDR or contact him at 608-745-3512.