Nelson wins appeal, Tigers compete at sectional track meet
By: Emily Kram, Superior Telegram
Northwestern High School’s Tess Nelson received welcome news Wednesday after 48 hours of stress.
The senior track star learned Wednesday afternoon that her disqualification in the 300-meter hurdles had been overturned, clearing her to run in Thursday’s Wisconsin Interscholastic Athletic Association Division 2 sectional meet in Bloomer.
“She was pretty ecstatic,” said Noah Jurek, head coach of the Northwestern High School track and field teams. “There was a misinterpretation of the disqualification rule, and she was reinstated for the meet.”
Nelson was disqualified from the event at Monday’s regional meet in Frederic.
According to the WIAA, the disqualification — charging Nelson with a false start — came from the meet referee after Nelson had been allowed run the race. She was not called for a false start at the line.
“What happened in this particular instance was incredibly unique, perhaps unprecedented,” said Dave Anderson, WIAA executive director.
Northwestern appealed the ruling, and the WIAA began interviewing coaches and officials present at the meet to gather the facts.
“When something like this arises, we take all the time necessary, or all the time available, to (investigate),” Anderson said.
Jurek said he’s challenged calls before, but never to this extent.
The WIAA also found itself in new territory.
Officials looked through the National Federation of Track and Field rules and casebook, as well as the WIAA rules, but nothing could be found “that speaks to the situation as it unfolded,” Anderson said. In such cases, the benefit of the doubt goes to the athlete.
Jurek said the WIAA handled the situation well and delivered a fair decision.
“The WIAA has been great to work with,” Jurek said.
Nelson entered Thursday’s sectional competition as the two-time defending state champion in the Division 2 girls 300-meter hurdles. She is headed to the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee next year to run for the Division I Panthers.
Nelson won her first state title in 2011, finishing in 45.02 seconds — just one second off of the Division 2 state meet record set by Freedom’s Melissa Talbot in 2002.
She repeated in 2012 with a winning time of 45.66 seconds. Nelson also competed in the 100-meter hurdle state finals in 2012, taking eighth in 15.71 seconds. Kaitlyn Hastings of Catholic Memorial won the race in 14.70 seconds, eight-hundredths of a second from Talbot’s record in that event, also set in 2002.
At Thursday’s sectional meet, Nelson held the top seed in the 100-meter hurdles (15.91 seconds) and the No. 5 seed in the 300-meter hurdles (50.44 seconds). She was the only competitor in the section with a seed time under 16 seconds in the 100 hurdles.
Northwestern sent 26 athletes to Thursday’s WIAA Division 2 sectional meet in Bloomer. The boys and girls teams both finished second at Monday’s regional meet and competed in 24 events Thursday.
The Tiger boys competed in all four relays and in six individual events at the sectional meet. The Tiger girls also sent all four relay teams to sectionals and had individuals competing in 11 more events.
The top four finishers in each event advance to the WIAA State Meet May 31 and June 1 at UW-La Crosse.
Final results from Thursday’s sectional meet were not available as of press time. Complete results will be listed at www.superiortelegram.com on Friday.