Track at the State Tournament
Nine members of the University School track team competed as individuals in the WIAA Division 2 State Tournament on Friday, June 2nd and Saturday, June 3rd at the University of Wisconsin La Crosse. Out of 131 teams competing in the D2 tournament, USM girls finished in 32nd place. The USM boys did not score any points so they finished tied with similar point recipients in 58th place.
Senior Davis Collison had the best finish for the Wildcats in the tournament. She took 3rd place in the meet in the 400 Meter Dash. She finished with a time of 57.94 seconds.
Collison finished 7th in the 200 Meter Dash. Her final time in the race was 26.32 seconds.
Joe Eason, USM’s head coach, said, “Davis ended her record-setting high school running career with a great state meet. She finished third in the 400, running yet another new PR (Personal Record) and new school record in the process. Stuck out in lane seven, she knew she had to go out harder than she’d like, but she ran with confidence along the backstretch with really no way of judging her competitors’ positions. She’s such a strong runner, she was able to finish well, too, as the rest of the field gained the advantage of the curve. In the finals of the 200, a late surge put her into the points for her second event of the day.”
Collison also ran as anchor for the USM squad in the 4 x 400 Meter Relay race. She joined sophomore Chyna Bacchus, sophomore Kristen Chou, and freshman Lexi Keppler to finish 16th event. Their time was 4:21.18.
“It was a great achievement for these four girls to qualify and run at state,” said Eason. “Two of them had multiple other events during the day. It’s always tough for a team to miss running their best in prelims at state. It feels like leaving business unfinished. With three of them eager to return, they now have a vision for what can happen and what it’s like to be on the big stage.”
Keppler took 16th place in the 1600 Meter Run. She completed the distance in 5:43.94.
“The sun this weekend was tough on all the distance runners,” Eason mentioned. “Lexi was in a stacked race with all sixteen D2 competitors in the same heat. When the pack got away from her, the temp made it extra difficult to make the kind of comeback she usually makes in the last lap of the event. With this experience under her belt as just a freshman, the sky is really the limit for her in the years to come. She finished her race incredibly well and confident, especially given the position she found herself in.”
USM’s 4 x 100 Meter Relay team consisting of sophomore Ava Bobbs, sophomore Kristen Chou, freshman Tunmi Omoloja, and junior Hailey Farrington-Bentil finished 15th at the state meet. The Wildcats had a time of 51.82 seconds when Farrington-Bentil crossed the finish line.
Eason commented on the quartet’s performance, “These four girls showed great improvement over the course of the season. With two teams from out sectional on the podium, including a new state record holder this year, these girls had a narrow window in which to qualify for this weekend. They peaked at the right time to earn a birth this weekend. They had a great experience just getting to the track at La Crosse, and, with no one graduating, they will be on a mission to get back next year.”
Farrington-Bentil also ran the 100 Meter Dash for USM. She finished 9th at state with a time of 13.12 seconds.
Chou took part in the Long Jump event but did not record a distance due to a foot foul.
“Kristen had a huge day on Friday, with two relays and the long jump,” said, Eason. “She put three great jumps into the pit in prelims, but was a toe over the line on all three. She made all the right adjustments, but each time her momentum grew, too. It was a tough way to end a season where she has been so consistent. I’m looking forward to seeing what she will bring to the season next year— with all of her experience, it’s hard to believe she will be only a junior next spring.”
USM also fielded two competitors in the boys meet.
Senior Walter Taylor competed for USM at state in the High Jump. He jumped over the bar set at 6’00 to finish 14th in the event.
Eason noted, “With his final jumps at 5’ 10” and 6’, Walter showed the tenacity and athleticism that go him to state in his senior season. With his season on the ropes, he put a couple of misses behind him and rallied to make great jumps. His jump at 6’ was probably the best jump I’ve ever seen from him. Two of the coaches next to me in the box both said “Wow” as he cleared the bar. Walter’s leadership on this team will be missed, but I’m glad he earned the chance to have his final clearing jump be a great one at the state meet.”
Senior Marquan Limehouse took 15th place in the Discus Throw. His best throw of the day covered a distance of 129’ 3”.
Eason said, “Marquan has been the cornerstone of our throws program for four years now. He brought a great attitude to the weekend and just came up short on a couple of his throws. Competing at the state meet is a great reward for a great high school career.”
Regarding the conclusion of the USM track team’s season, Eason said, “This team has taken big steps forward over the last few years, thanks largely to the efforts and leadership from our seniors. As always, they leave big shoes to fill, but I think this year’s group of graduates has done uniquely well at preparing underclassmen to be our leaders next year. Taking a large team to the state meet was a great way for them to close out this year and pass leadership on to the next generation.”