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Spartans' Becker and White to pull double duty Saturday

Caroline Becker, left, and Daisy White will represent Superior High School at this weekend’s WIAA State Track and Field Championships at UW-La Crosse. (Jed Carlson / jcarlson@superiortelegram.com)

Caroline Becker and Daisy White will enjoy the best of both worlds Saturday.

The Superior High School seniors will compete in the WIAA Division 1 Girls Track and Field Championships in the morning, and they’ll return to Superior in the evening for their graduation ceremony.

“There’s been years in the past where it hasn’t worked out for other people, but I’m really glad that both of us are going to be able to be here,” Becker said.

The seniors will miss the rehearsal and had to pick up their graduation tickets early, but they otherwise do not anticipate any problems with their planned walk across the stage.

Becker will compete in the high jump Saturday morning at Veterans Memorial Stadium Complex in La Crosse. White competes in the discus throw today, but she plans to stay in La Crosse to watch Becker Saturday.

This marks the first trip to the state track and field meet for both Becker and White.

“I think we both knew that we could do this, but it’s really exciting for both of us to be able to say that we finally did it together,” Becker said.

“We’ve been friends this whole time,” White said.

A state sendoff for the two seniors is set for 7:45 am today in the SHS gym. The event is open to the public.

Daisy White

Reaching the state meet has been on White’s to-do list for some time, and in her senior year, she was determined to meet that goal.

“Our first class together in a long time this semester, she sat down next to me and she looks at me and she’s like, ‘We’re going to state this year. Together. You and me,’ ” Becker said.

For White, a trip to the state meet was painfully close last year. About two feet separated her from qualifying in the discus throw.

She won the regional title but then took fourth at the sectional meet to finish one place from the state cutoff.

“I was so close,” she said. “I think that’s what really pushed me to do my best this year. I knew I had a pretty good chance, but I didn’t think about it much. I just competed.”

This year, White’s marks in the discus have soared.

Her state qualifying throw of 124 feet, 4 inches is more than 10 feet beyond her top throw last season, and she has picked up multiple records in her senior year. White set and then reset the SHS discus record, improved upon her school shot put record from last season and claimed the discus record at the Lake Superior Conference Meet. The senior also holds the NBC Spartan Sports Complex track records in both discus and shot put.

“At the beginning of this year I was doing just as good as my junior year, and then I had a meet where I hit 120 (feet) for the first time. Then from there I just went off,” White said. “I think it was like a mental block. I just wanted the record so bad, and I had been inching toward it.

“Now that I’ve got it, I’m fine.”

White also wanted to thank throwing coach Josh Hudspith for her success this season.

“He knows that I can do it, but he doesn’t tell me. He lets me figure it out,” White said. “He never tells me how far I’m throwing in practice, so I never know. I think he just knows me well enough and knows how to (motivate) me.”

Heading into the state meet, White is seeded seventh of the 24 competitors in the Division 1 field. The discus throw is scheduled to begin at 4:30 p.m. today, and White will be throwing with the top flight of athletes.

Returning champion Josie Schaefer, of Baraboo, is heavily favored to defend her title. Her qualifying distance of 165-4 is more than 30 feet beyond the next best mark. The Division 1 record for the state meet is 169-10.

White has no expectation of reaching the 160-foot mark, but she thinks 130 feet is a possibility.

She’s hoping for another personal record in her final high school competition and then looks forward to competing in college at St. Cloud State University.

Caroline Becker

When she lines up for the high jump Saturday Becker will be the underdog, but she’s perfectly comfortable in that role.

“I’m seeded last — big, fat last,” she said Wednesday, laughing. “But I think I’m going to surprise a lot of people. I know that this is my last chance to prove what I have, but I’m not going to let that faze me at all.”

Becker claimed the regional title by clearing a height of 5 feet, 2 inches and qualified for state by clearing 5-0 at the sectional meet.

Superior’s school record is 5-3, and Becker said she has made 5-4 in practice.

The top two contenders in the Division 1 field this year both qualified with marks of 5-6.

“I think I get a little bit nervous in meets, but I’m ready to just kind of leave everything I have on the state track and hopefully get that record,” Becker said. “I know that I can do it. I really have nothing to lose.”

Becker’s only hope is that the state meet proves less stressful than what she experienced last week at the sectional meet in D.C. Everest.

Even now, she is still coming to terms with the fact that she qualified.

“At sectionals, my coach cried because this is something that I’ve been saying is my goal for four years,” Becker said. “I’ve been popping into his room at school and saying ‘Hey, we’ve got it this year.’ ”

But at the sectional meet, Becker believed she’d missed the cut due to a mix-up. She had just resigned herself to that fact when she learned she’d be competing in a jump-off to determine the final qualifying place for the state meet.

“I couldn’t believe that my season was over,” Becker said. “Then a coach came over and they were telling us, ‘Hey if she doesn’t make this next jump, you have another chance.’”

The competitor scratched at 5-2, so Becker put her shoes back on and prepared for a jump-off.

“I knew that I had nothing to lose at that point,” Becker said. “I had already accepted that I lost, and it was the biggest emotional rollercoaster of my life.”

Becker went on to win the jump-off, leaving both her and coach Phil Roe in tears.

“It’s kind of a dream,” Becker said, “so I’m going to enjoy the fact that I made it and not worry about how I place.”

Becker added that she could not have made it without her coach, who offer words of support and makes her believe in herself.

“I would be nowhere without Coach Roe,” Becker said. “He’s my rock; he’s my biggest support. He’s like my dad in some ways. I can just pop into his room and I know he’s always going to be there.”

SPARTAN SPIN: At the sectional meet, White tried a new tactic for the first time: She refused to watch any of the other competitors.

“I did not watch a single girl throw, which I’ve never done before,” White said. “I stood there with my back turned, put my headphones in and didn’t listen to a single distance.”

When it was White’s turn to throw, she had no idea where she stood in the rankings.

“I think that helped me not psyche myself out,” she said.

The senior responded with a career best throw, but she does not plan to use the same approach at the state competition today.

“I’m going to focus on watching these girls this time, I think, because I can learn a lot from them,” White said. “A lot of them are better than me, so I don’t think I’m going to ignore them, but I’m still going to focus on just doing my best for my last meet.”

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