Three sectional champs among Tigers competing at state track and field meet
By: Ken Olson, Superior Telegram
The Northwestern Tigers track and field team will be taking plenty of experience with it to this weekend’s WIAA State Track and Field Meet at UW-La Crosse.
Junior Tess Nelson is the defending Division 2 300-meter hurdle champion; senior Mike Naumann is returning to state in the boys 300-meter hurdles; junior Logan Holly is doing the same in the pole vault; and junior Jordan Johnson is making it 3-for-3 in state appearances, this year in the 1,600.
Also advancing to state for the Tigers are Nelson in the 100-meter hurdles and two relays, Duncan Mageral, Alex Reynolds, Mike Parkins and Zak Anttila in the 4x100 relay and Naumann, Reynolds, Parkins and Anttila in the 4x200 relay.
Nelson, Naumann and Holly are also fresh off winning sectional championships and have high expectations this weekend.
Nelson will attempt to repeat in the 300-meter hurdles against a field that includes six runners with faster qualifying times. She will also run in the 100-hurdles.
“I’m not that worried about times,” Nelson said. “I haven’t been pushed at all yet this year, even at sectionals, so I don’t even know what I can get or how low I can go.
“Against good competition, though, I’m expecting a big drop in time.”
As for also competing in the 100-meter hurdles, Nelson isn’t too worried.
“I think I should be fine,” Nelson said. “It’s not expected to be as hot this year and the 100 is a lot shorter of a race, so it doesn’t take that much out of you. As long as I don’t fall I should be all right.”
Nelson’s best time in the 300 is 46.28 and she’s hoping to get down to a 45.0.
“The experience of already running at state should help,” Nelson said. “Just being down there, it was a shock to see how big the event was. With already being there, maybe I can help the other kids with what to expect.”
Nelson also got some help this year from Naumann, who was selected as an extra qualifier in the 300 hurdles for last year’s state meet. The two have been pushing each other in the 300 hurdles and the races were pretty close, until this year when Naumann improved.
“We used to have some good battles, but now he’s really pulled ahead of me and is beating by several seconds,” Nelson said. “He has a really good chance of winning this year.”
“I’ve improved a whole second off my best time last year,” Naumann said. “I’m looking to win it this year. My sectional time wasn’t very good because of the rain and the delays and all nine of us in the race are close, so I should have a chance. It should be an interesting race.”
NHS hurdle coach Philip McGrath thinks both could medal this weekend.
“They’re both ranked pretty well and Mike is right in there in the 40s,” McGrath said. “He was eighth last year and his goal this year to get up on the podium and see how high he can go.
“Tess is the returning state champ of course, so we’re expecting big things. I don’t know how fast she can go, she hasn’t really been pushed at all. She works hard and every time she’s pushing to go faster and faster. It’ll be exciting to watch both run.”
The relays virtually the same with Reynolds, Parkins and Anttila with Mageral on the 4x100 and with Naumann on the 4x200.
“Things look good, we had good times this year and we’re pretty excited to go to state,” Reynolds said. “We really didn’t think that we’d get the opportunity, but we’re going to make the best of it.”
Reynolds also thinks having three of the same runners on both relays is key.
“It works out good with the same groups,” Reynolds said. “We have a really close bond and that makes it easier, especially on the handoffs.
“We’re hoping to get into the finals, and get on the podium. We’re working hard and we really think we have a chance.”
Logan’s winning vault at sectionals was 10-3, nine inches better than the second-place finisher.
“Holly’s chances of doing well are great,” NHS coach Noah Jurek said. “She’s peaking at the right time of the year. She’s humble about what she does, but she’s where she should be. She’s a competitor and has really stepped up in everything that we’ve asked.”
Johnson ran on a relay at state as a freshman and then in the 800 as a sophomore. This year she is competing in the 1,600.
“She’s coming into state in back of the pack in a loaded field,” Jurek said. “She’s gone 5:18 earlier in the year and the top runners are sitting at around 5-flat, so that’s a pretty fast field.
“But she’s no stranger to the big stage, so I really think she’s going to bust out a good one.”
TIGER TALES: The entire WIAA State Track and Field Meet will be produced by Play-On Sports (formerly When We Were Young Productions) and streamed live on foxsportswisconsin.com. … The East Troy boys will compete in 10 events, which is the most of any school in the division. … The McFarland girls are represented in the most events with nine, including one relay. Somerset has competitors in eight events. … Sophomore Bonnie Draxler of Wrightstown won the 400-meter dash and the pole vault last year as a freshman. Her best vault this year is 13-3.