Spartan girls head to state meet

At the start of the track season, Taylor and Raya Kosey had a goal. The sisters wanted to run together in the Wisconsin Interscholastic Athletic Association state meet on the same relay team for the Superior Spartans.

SHS Track
Alternates, from left, Nicole Olson and Jenna Martin, join Taylor Kosey, Caitlin Vaughan, Christa Diedrich and Raya Kosey for a photo of Superior's entrants into the 2009 Division 1 WIAA State Track Meet. (Jed Carlson/

At the start of the track season, Taylor and Raya Kosey had a goal. The sisters wanted to run together in the Wisconsin Interscholastic Athletic Association state meet on the same relay team for the Superior Spartans.

With Taylor set to graduate from Superior High School this weekend and Raya just a freshman, they had only one chance to achieve their goal -- the 4x400-meter relay in Friday's sectional meet at Wausau East.

"It was actually a lot closer than we thought it was going to be. It came down to like the last stretch," Taylor Kosey said.

Senior Caitlin Vaughan led off the relay for Superior. She had a good start and was able to get the baton to Taylor Kosey with enough room for her to gain the inside lane.

"When Taylor got the baton, she ran flat out to beat the other runners to the cut in point," said Kris Leopold, Superior co-head coach. "It was an aggressive move, and that's why she runs second."


Running the third leg was Christa Diedrich. The junior moved Superior into position, passing a few teams and bringing the baton in second, according to Leopold.

On the last leg, all the pressure was on Raya Kosey, who Leopold referred to as Superior's "insurance policy."

"There are only a handful of girls in the state who can run with her, and none of them were anchoring their relay team (Friday)."

Raya Kosey ran the fastest split of the day for Superior and crossed the finish line at 4:08.22, good enough for second place and a trip to state.

"Seeing Taylor hugging her sister after the race said it all," Leopold said. "All the previous times they didn't get along as kids were forgotten. I guarantee they'll never forget that hug."

Vaughn, Diedrich and the Kosey sisters will now compete in the Division 1 state track meet Friday and Saturday at UW-La Crosse. Vaughn also qualified individually in the 300-meter hurdles, and Raya Kosey will run the 400-meter dash in addition to the 4x400 relay. A state send-off for the athletes is planned for 8 a.m. Thursday in the SHS gym.

For two of the relay members, Taylor Kosey and Vaughn, their trip to the state track meet will also mark their last races in a Superior uniform.

"It's kind of bittersweet because we have to miss our last two days of school now," Vaughn said. "If we make it to finals, that's the same time as graduation."


But the seniors said they were excited and it would be worth it, even if they miss their graduation ceremony. Both will be running with track teams next year, Kosey with the University of Minnesota Duluth Bulldogs and Vaughn with the St. Scholastica Saints.

Vaughn and Taylor Kosey have run together on a relay team prior to this season, and Diedrich was the alternate on a team with the two seniors. The only true newcomer to this year's relay team was Raya Kosey.

"As a freshman, it was just so easy coming into this track season with them," Raya Kosey said. "They've just been welcoming, helping me out every practice, making me feel totally comfortable."

"There's so many of us that are capable of being on the 4x400 right now," Diedrich said. "It was close all year round, but everybody's just happy for each other. There's no hard feelings."

The Superior girls hope to make it to the finals, either as a relay team or individually. They said the last Spartan to accomplish that feat was Packy Paquette, who ran for Superior in the 1960's.

"We want to break the (school) record again too," Taylor Kosey said. "We were able to do that last year, but we can definitely do it this year."

In the 400-meter dash, Raya Kosey reset the school record again with a time of 59.52 to finish second. Taylor Kosey, also running in the sectional race, finished fourth. The senior missed a state berth by just one position, but Leopold said it was a victory for Kosey overall.

"She ran a 1:01.4 as a freshman setting the school record then," Leopold said. "She and I have been doing everything we could for the last three years to get her back to that time. She never gave up once. She wanted to do anything she had to do to beat her old time."


At the section meet in Wausau Friday, Taylor Kosey ran the 400 in 1:00.88.

"It says a lot about her character, her tenacity and her will to win," Leopold said.

Vaughan also showed her determination to win during the 300 hurdles race.

"That was exciting," Vaughn said. "At the beginning of the season, I didn't expect it at all, and then winning regionals I still wasn't even sure. So I was really nervous but excited about it."

Vaughn, who finished third, didn't know how close her competitors were behind her. The senior's teammates say there was a comfortable gap between Vaughn and the fourth-place finisher.

"It wasn't until the last little bit that they spaced out," Diedrich said.

Vaughn doesn't expect to make the finals in the 300 hurdles, but she'll settle for breaking the school record. Danielle Larson currently holds the Superior record, and Leopold said Vaughn isn't far from passing her.

"Hurdle workouts are very grueling," Leopold said. "Most kids fall off at the last few hurdles -- a sign that their conditioning wasn't quite there. But Caitlin finishes the 300s like it was a 200-meter run."


Raya Kosey wants to run under 59 seconds and also has her sights set on the finals. She is seeded 13th out of 24 runners heading into the state meet with her time of 59.52. The top Division 1 runner for the girls this year is Tasha Allen of Milwaukee North, who ran the 400 in 54.33 for the top seed.

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