Sturgeon Bay’s Haley Riechers admits that the girls state track meet didn’t seem possible when the season began in April.
“My biggest goal this year was to make it to sectionals,” said the junior high jumper. “I really didn’t think I was really good enough for state.”
Not only did Riechers prove herself worthy of the Division 2 meet Friday, she is in position to make a strong finish. Riechers, who leaped personal best 5 foot 2 in the Freedom Sectional, is one of nine jumpers who qualified at that height. Two other girls enter at 5-3, and Megan Reddeman of Poynette and Charlie Halvorsen of Arcadia enter the meet with the best jumps at 5-4.
“I think a realistic goal for me is to get in at least the top ten,” Riechers said. “I will try my hardest to push for top five.”
Riechers is one of handful of local athletes who will compete Friday at Veterans Memorial Stadium in LaCrosse. Gibraltar’s Evan Henry and Abbi Sitte, Sevastopol’s Olivia Stenzel and Kiegan Sargent return after competing at the Division 3 state meet in 2018.
Henry returns after placing seventh in the 1,600-meter run in a time of 4:33.29. Henry qualified after running 4:41.47 in the Marathon Sectional and has the 13th fastest time. Henry also qualified for the 3,200-meter run with a time No. 9 seeded time of 10:08.53. David Vannucchi of Luther has the top time in each race.
“[The state meet] will be different because this is my last chance to compete and do something amazing,” Henry said. “Last year I could still look forward to next year. This year is it. I expect some great competition that will push me to my max. I am definitely hoping to get two new best times in my events. The question is how big will they be.”
Stenzel, who placed ninth in the 1,600 last year, qualified for the 800-meter run with a time of 2:26.84. Stenzel, Lizzy Fiscus, Zoe Kuenh and Mya Ploor will compete in the 4×800 relay. This group’s time of 10:24.48 is the third best time in its heat. Kuehn also qualified in the triple jump with a leap of 33-10 ¼.
Sitte, who placed eighth last year in the 100 with a time of 12.95, enters the competition with a sectional time of 12.93. Sitte, sister Nina, Abbey Fitzgerald and Bria Caldecott will compete in the 4×100-meter relay after turning in a sectional time of 52.48. Fitzgerald, a sophomore, enters the state meet in the long jump with a sectional leap of 15 feet, 9 inches.
“I think the excitement definitely tops the nerves, and this year is extra rewarding because I get to share that excitement with my relay team,” Sitte said. “We’ve worked so hard all season and to finally see everything pay off is very fulfilling. Getting to share the exhilaration with others is so much better than going by yourself.”
Sargent, who placed 13th at the state meet in 2018 with a leap of 19-6 ¼, jumped 20-5 in the sectional meet. Reid Larson from Fennimore has the best leap of 21-8 ¼ coming into state competition.
Sevastopol’s Laci Lautenbach qualified for state competition in the high jump with a leap of 5-0. Brinley Wood of Cuba City enters the state meet with a sectional best jump of 5-3.