Capping off a great season, setting personal bests, and scoring points were three goals that Benton-Scales Mound-Shullsburg track squads had in place heading into last week's state track and field championships held in LaCrosse, WI.
The boy's squad was led by Senior Jeremiah Bailey's gold medal performance in the High Jump. Jeremiah and Suring's John Christensen both tied at 6' 4", but Jeremiah made the tied height on his second attempt, while John didn't clear it until his third. Both boys defeated last year's state champion, and State Male Track Athlete of the Year, Josh Pillath from Coleman. Also, competing in the High Jump was Sophomore Ben Davis. Ben did very well, jumping 6' 0' to take ninth place, just one place from scoring in his first state appearance. "Coach Ernst is to be commended for having the boys ready to go. What a way to end his coaching career @ BSMS!, " applauded Coach Raley
On the track, the boys 4x400 relay (Aaron Pulvermacher, Troy Turpin, Ethan Shetler, David Germaine) ran to a seventh place seed in the prelims on Friday afternoon (3:32.19). They had their work cut out for them as racing from an outside lane can be tricky in the 4x400. Aaron Pulvermacher got the group rolling, coming across at the exchange in the top three places. Troy and Ethan ran extremely well, giving David a shot to move up. David closed the gap on two teams and crossed the finish line in 4th place with a new Tri-Op record of 3:28.92. Once they crossed the line it was announced that Lake County Lutheran would be disqualified for interference, giving the boys the third place medal. It is the first relay medal for the boys' squad (Tri-Op and 1st in all three schools' history).
Earlier on Friday morning, the boys 4x800 was contested. The relay team of Josh Redfearn, Troy Turpin, David Germaine, and Aaron Pulvermacher got their first taste of competing at the state meet as a group (David ran last year in the 400m). Things didn't quite go as well as the boys had hoped they finished in 13th place with a time of 8:33.22, well off of their record setting performance of 8:23.52 run at the sectional meet.
For the meet, the boys tallied 16 points, the Tri-Op's best outing to date while they tied for 13th place with four other teams.
The girls were not to be denied their chance at a record and a gold medal. Their's came in the 4x100 relay. At Friday's prelims, the girl's squad of Paige Murphy, Chloe Matthews, Calli Jerry, and Emma Lawrence ran 50.30 to come in second place, just behind Cuba City's 50.29. There would be a showdown in the finals. Neither team wanted to lose this one to their rival. The race went as expected, with Emma Lawrence getting the baton just behind Cuba's Mykenzie Vaassen on the final leg. Emma worked her magic, passing Vaassen with about 20 meters to go and securing BSMS's first relay gold medal with a winning time of 50.31. The time in the prelims (50.30) set a new Tri-Op record. The old record (50.80) was set last year at the state meet.
"Having to replace 3 of the 4 runners from last year's relay - I'm not sure we thought we could do this at the early part of the season. And then to have injuries and having to use alternates just to get here - this is really special", exclaimed Coach Raley "Hats off to the kids and Coach Lierman for keeping this relay together."
Continuing on the track - Junior Emma Lawrence showed why she is one of the best all-around track athletes in the state. For starters, she grabbed third place in the 100 high hurdles (first time competing at state in this event) with a time of 16.28. She then moved on to the Triple Jump (also first time in this event at state) and proceeded to jump a personal best (35' 3") in the prelims, only to be called to the 4x100 relay. Upon receiving the gold medal for the 4x100, she had to scurry off for the start of the 300 hurdles. "She literally had to run from the awards stand and get into her blocks. We knew this might happen, but she wanted the gold in the relay so bad, that she sacrificed her hurdle race a bit for the TEAM", explained Coach Raley
After grabbing fourth place in the 300h (46.14), and getting her third medal of the day, it was immediately back to the triple jump runway for the finals. She ended her afternoon jumping 35' 3.5" on her last attempt to grab 10th place, while setting a new Benton School record in the process.
In her second appearance at the state meet, Junior Brianna Leahy improved on her 2016 showing (5th, 38' 9.5") in the shot put by tossing the metal sphere 40' 1" to grab third place. Then at Saturday's discus competition (her first in this event) she medaled again, this time taking 6th place with a heave of 117' 10". "To come here and medal in one event is hard enough, but to do it in two, that's extraordinary", exclaimed Coach Raley.
On the weekend, the girls' squad tallied 30 points (their most ever) to bring home 7th place. This was a much tougher meet than the past couple of years, much more competitive. Last year's winner Cuba City scored 34 points - that would have been 5th place this year - great competition.
"This was a great way to end the season, new records and with the boys and girls scoring their most points ever (Tri-Op) at the state meet, what more can you say, shouted Coach Raley.
"The coaching staff had their competitors ready to go - it was a total team effort, they should all be proud."