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Tiger track team state bound

Members of the Northwestern High School track team that will be competing in the 2010 WIAA State Track meet in LaCrosse pose for a photo in Maple on Wednesday. Team members are, from left, Jessi Morris, Angela Snow, Jordan Johnson, Nicolette Amber, Austin Berube, Beth Gurske, Jake Schiff, Ryan Miesbauer, Jimmy Hosey, Lee Brown, Zach Yepma, Steven Perry, Carolyn Prochaska and Nate Nelson. (Jed Carlson/jcarlson@superiortelegram.com)

Will it be déjà vu all over again for Ryan Miesbauer, or will he finally get his state title this year?

Miesbauer, a senior at Northwestern High School, is once again heading to the WIAA Division 2 State Track and Field Meet with the No. 1 seed in the shot put. The field athlete found himself in the same position last year, but when it started to rain during the finals, he faltered and came away with a second place finish.

"I'm going for first. I've worked all year and last year, and then everything's been going toward taking first this year," Miesbauer said.

Compared to last season, Miesbauer is already of the pace. His sectional throw of 58 feet, 6.5 is about two feet further than his qualifying throw in his junior year. The 58-6.5 distance also broke Northwestern's all-time record, which had stood since 1994. Tom Burke held the previous record with a throw of 58-2.

Miesbauer set a goal of moving to the top of the all-time shot put list at the start of the season. He easily won the shot put event in most meets, but the school record eluded him until after the regular season had ended.

"It feels good. I've been waiting for it to happen, now I've just got to get the final goal -- to win state," Miesbauer said.

The No. 2 contender in the Division 2 shot put is the same athlete who spoiled Miesbauer's plans for a state title last season. Cody Evers of Little Chute qualified with a distance of 57-10.75. When he won the event last year, he had a throw of 55-2.25.

Miesbauer said he and Evers have averaged similar distances all year, so he knows it will take another big throw to finish first.

"I'm going for 60 no matter what," Miesbauer said.

In the whole state, only one athlete has a qualifying distance of 60 feet or greater: Division 1 top qualifier Mike Hardy, with a throw of 61 feet, 3 inches. Incidentally, Hardy is also the only athlete in the state with a shot put throw better than Miesbauer's.

Heavy rain isn't in the forecast for this weekend, but even if the weather should turn, Miesbauer is confident he has learned from last year's experience.

"I've thrown in a lot of rain this year compared to last year," Miesbauer said. "I've thrown in snow, so I'm definitely more accustomed to it."

Pole vaulting

The Tigers are once again sending a pair of pole vaulters to the state meet, one boy and one girl. Both have competed at the state level before.

For the boys, senior Nathan Nelson is returning after going to state as a sophomore. He has seen a big improvement in his heights this year, which he feels is due to a new training method.

"I used to do middle distance running, but I wanted to work on my speed and get ready for the vault a lot better, so I switched to more sprinting," Nelson said.

The changed helped a lot, he said. He especially noticed he wasn't as tired as he used to be when he ran in the 4x800 relay.

"As soon as I was done with that I'd have to go pole vault, and I'd be so tired it's almost impossible to vault good after that," Nelson said.

Nelson said he's been jumping about a foot and a half higher than last year thanks to the change. He thinks he'll have to clear at least 13 feet, six inches to get on the podium at state.

"My goal is to get onto the podium, and I know anything is possible so I'm excited," Nelson said.

Carolyn Prochaska is returning in the pole vault for the girls after also qualifying last season. She has cleared 10 feet a few times this year and hopes to duplicate that effort at state.

Like Nelson, she also changed her training routine to prepare for this year.

"I lifted (weights) a lot," Prochaska said. "I would go two to three times a week in the morning before school and lift.

"I had a lot of people who really encouraged me. Mr. Coleman, who's a math teacher, would do all the morning weight stuff. He'd encourage me to be there, and if I wasn't he'd be like, 'Where were you this morning?' It was nice having somebody to be accountable too."

Prochaska should be easy to spot at this weekend's state meet. Her mismatched, knee-high socks have become a defining characteristic.

She said she even has a special pair planned for the state competition. On one foot will be a purple and neon green sock, and on the other a tiger print pattern.

"They don't match very well, but why start now?" she said.

Tiger relays

The girls 4x800 relay is led by four speedy underclassmen. Nicolette Amber, a sophomore, is the oldest member of the group. The three others running on the relay team -- Beth Gurske, Jordan Johnson and Angela Snow -- are all freshmen. Another freshman, Olivia Amber, will serve as an alternate along with junior Jessie Morris.

The Tiger girls will be the youngest squad competing in the 4x800 for Division 2 and will need to cut about 10 seconds off their time to contend with the better teams in the field of 16.

Northwestern's time of 10:06.62 in the sectional meet set a new school record for the relay event. It was almost 20 seconds faster than their regional time.

The Tiger boys will also compete in two relays, the 4x400 and 4x800. The four athletes running on the 4x400 team were all starting defensive backs on this year's Tiger football team.

Lee Brown, a member of the 4x400 relay, is also competing individually in the 300 hurdles.

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