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THE CITY REBORN FROM THE ASHES OF AMERICA'S MOST DISASTROUS FOREST FIRE
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Peshtigo's Rauch Captures D2 State Pole Vault Title

Issue Date: June 7, 2018

Bulldogs Finish in 12th; VanVooren Medals Twice

Going into last weekend's Division II State Track Championship, 25 Peshtigo boys had won state championships, with Brad Neumann's 2012 win in the 100-meter dash the most recent win. After the weekend, Peshtigo now has 26 winners in its history.

Junior Max Rauch won the pole vault with a height of 14 feet, six inches. It wasn't his personal record, but it was the best in the division.

Coming into the year, Rauch's goal was to make state, but as the season went on, that goal inevitably changed as he continually soared to new heights.

"From last year, my goal was to make it to state, and as this season progressed, the vision of being a state champion started to kind of become more clear," Rauch said. "As I started hitting higher heights, it became more of a real possibility."

In order to reach that new goal, he had to overcome some tough heat and some wind, along with the pressure that comes along with pole vaulting in front of a packed house in La Crosse.

"He held it together," Bulldogs coach Joe Nault said. "When he vaulted, it was the most brutal weather of the day and he had to take a lot of jumps today. Despite that, he held it together and he's a state champ. He earned it."

Along with Nault, Rauch's dad, Ted Rauch, has served as the team's pole-vaulting coach, something that's helped Max's development.

"Ted has been a huge asset to our team," Nault said. "His knowledge base and commitment is clearly evidenced in the results. We are very fortunate to have him."

He's gotten coaching from some other experts as well. Max Rauch has attended at least six pole vaulting camps prior to and during the season and gone through numerous different pole lengths in his path to the state championship.

"He's a dedicated kid. We've been able to get him to a lot of different camps and he puts a lot of time in," a clearly proud Ted Rauch said. "There were a couple of high-pressure jumps where he was down to his last jump and he made the height. We didn't make the 15-foot, which is what we were looking for, but I couldn't be more proud. It's absolutely fantastic. It's an accomplishment that's unbelievable."

Rauch's win in the pole vault was a big key to Peshtigo placing 12th in the division of 66 teams with at least one representative, but he wasn't the only Bulldog who had a good weekend.

Hurdler Mitchell VanVooren took sixth in the 300-meter hurdles (40.70) and ninth in the 110-meter hurdles (15.85).

"The 110s was a tough race. I didn't get out fast in the finals and it wasn't what I wanted," VanVooren said, with the 300-meter being his preferred race.

In the 300, he broke the school record, despite clipping the final hurdle on his way over

"Mitchell ran really well," Nault said. "He broke the school record, but he actually caught the last hurdle on his run, so he can be a little bit quicker yet."

VanVooren also started the 4x400 race for the Bulldogs, followed up by Reid Marquardt, Cameron Barrette and Jerod Jandt. The team finished in fifth place (3:27.26), with their preliminary race time 2.5 seconds better than their original seeded time.

"We made it to the podium, which is what we all wanted," VanVooren said. "Coming in, we were ranked 10th, so it was cool. It was nice to go down with a team and it was a great experience for all of us."

Barrette is the only senior on the relay team, so if they keep the team together and are able to replace Barrette's speed, they could be back next year if all goes well.

"I wouldn't want to do it with any other group of guys," Jandt said. "We made sure to get out fast and leave nothing behind. We all ran the best that we've ever ran."

Marquardt also competed in the 800-meter run. He came out a bit faster than he maybe should have, finishing 10th (1:59.28).

"Reid went out very fast, and he was in a quick heat of guys running," Nault said. "That's the fastest first lap I've probably ever seen him run."

However, as a junior, he's got time to digest the race and come back next year with more experience.

"Although I didn't get the outcome I was looking for, I know that the race will motivate me to come back next year for another chance to stand on the podium," Marquardt said.

Marquardt isn't the only Bulldog who will be gunning for a state spot next year. With Barrette being the only senior to make state for Peshtigo this season, they've got high hopes for next season.

Referencing the 12th-place team finish, Nault said, "It also tells the possible story for next year, as almost everyone on this team is returning and there are a bunch of underclassmen that are up-and-coming performers. It was flattering to work with these kids this year. Their sportsmanship and dedication to hard work paid large dividends."

Also in DII, Marinette sophomore Katelyn Kitzinger was 13th in the 400-meter dash with a time of 1:00.14.

"She got a PR. That's always a good note to end the season on," Marinette coach Bryan Lenzner said. "It's definitely not the time she wanted, but she's a true competitor and she'll be coming back stronger than ever."

Marine junior Jordan Wendt, who has been battling a foot injury since basketball season, placed 15th in the high jump with a height of 5-10.

As with Kitzinger, Lenzner believes Wendt will be back next year with a new determination and hopefully a healed foot.

"He just didn't have the legs," Lenzner said. "He's a hardcore competitor. He's bound and determined to come back next year."

Gilletts Hansen Wins Silver Crivitz Claims Two Medals

In recent years, Peshtigo and Suring have had the reputations as the track powerhouses of the M&O Conference. This year, however, Crivitz and Gillett gave the rest of the conference a possible glimpse into the future.

Of 61 teams, the Gillett girls were 17th, led by Sylvia Hansen. The freshman was just over a second from winning the 1600-meter run (5:15.04), taking silver, and she finished fifth in the 3200-meter run (11:34.26).

"Sylvia finished quite a freshman year as a runner, finishing third in the state at cross country and following that up by qualifying in both the 1600 and 3200,"Gillett coach Bill DeJung said. She's a very determined girl and just a very intense competitor, so I think she'll be right in the mix next year, so it should be exciting."

Fellow freshman Aubrey DeBauch also showed up to state with a strong performance in the cards. She set a personal and school best with her time of 47.59 in the 300-meter hurdles.

DeBauch didn't compete in the event outside until the final week of April, and the event isn't one that middle schoolers have the opportunity to run in, but once she got the hang of it, her times improved quickly.

"She just continued to get more comfortable with it as far as extending her effort over the distance and she kept winning races, her times crept down," DeJung said. "All of the sudden at the sectional meet, she went out and won the sectional by about three meters, and that was really her eye-opener as far as where she could compete at the state level, and she just kind of continued that confidence in the prelims on Friday. A very, very good performance on her part."

DeBauch said that running at state gave her more motivation to succeed.

"With the better competition, there's so many more people to push you," she said. "The atmosphere"there's nothing like it."

The Tiger boys were not without underclassmen qualifiers, either. Freshman Derek Hanson took 16th in the 1600-meter run (4:49.32) and sophomore Bo Krueger was 14th in the discus throw (131-3).

The 1600-meter run had to re-start after Hanson was tripped up right at the beginning of the race, something that could have affected his time once the race continued.

"He had a good first lap but you could tell that fall probably got to him emotionally," DeJung said. "After lap one, that showed up and he didn't have his best race. It's unfortunate that he took a spell, but I thought he handled it pretty well afterwards."

For Hanson, as well as Krueger, this was a learning experience that will DeJung hopes will propel them to greater heights next year.

"I was happy he got the experience to get down there and throw with the best in the state as well," DeJung said of Krueger. "He had a decent performance and so I was happy he could get that experience. That should help with his confidence going forward too."

With how successful his young athletes have been, even DeJung sometimes forgets they're underclassmen.

"Sometimes I forget that Bo's just a sophomore," DeJung said. "He's still very strong and I sometimes have to check myself and remember that he's a sophomore, and some of those big boys that are throwing the disc in the 170s, Bo has time to grow yet."

With four underclassmen making it to state for their first time, there's a lot of positivity surrounding the Tigers track and field program.

"I thought we did really well for having three freshmen and a sophomore," DeJung said. "I thought they handled themselves quite well and it was great that we could get them down there at such a young age. I thought they held up very well."

The Tigers aren't the only program that had a lot of young athletes at state, however.

The Crivitz boys were 30th in DIII behind the performances from their sophomore class.

After a 10th-place performance in the 110-meter preliminaries, Ezekial Lawrence claimed fifth in the event with a time of 16.02 to wrap up his sophomore season, also taking 13th in the 300-meter hurdles (42.87).

"It's a really great place and it's kind of nerve-wracking," Lawrence said of running in front of the big crowds in La Crosse. "You see all the people, but it's amazing at the same time."

Sophomore Jaden Bemis was ninth in the 100-meter dash (11.78). His preliminary time, however, would have earned him second place the division, so there's room for growth.

Bemis also said he could feel the crowd, saying, "It's crazy. I've never seen so many people in my life."

The pair will hope to make it back next year, when they'll be accustomed to the crowd.

In the pole vault, Crivitz got a happy surprise from sophomore Tony Jopek. Seeded last in the division at 12 feet, Jopek cleared the bar at 13 feet to tie for fifth place.

"It's awesome just making it here. I got a lot more than I expected," Jopek said. "I started out in a not very good ranking and just made up for it."

Senior Michael Retza took 13th in the pole vault with a height of 12-6 to wrap up his Wolverine career. Both set personal records for the season.

"They both improved on the year, so that was a good time to hit their best height," Reichardt said. "They were both were coming around really nicely after conference. They really started to get the hang of it."

Wolverine sophomore Chloe Gruszynski was 10th in the triple jump at 34-2.75 as well.

Reichardt said it's up to the young members of the Crivitz team to put the work in going into next season.

"They know that if they put in the time and effort, they'll reap the benefits," he said. "They've got to work hard themselves if they want to get where they want to be. This experience will help them get a little bit more hungry."

It may not have been Suring's best year, with the youth movements in Gillett and Crivitz getting most of the accolades, but the Eagles were not without representation at state.

Mitch Stegeman is also just a junior, but he's been dominating the M&O Conference for a couple of years now.

In La Crosse, he tied Jopek for fifth in the pole vault at 13 feet and finished 12th in the 300-meter hurdles (42.76).

"It was a little windy and warm but when you're in the zone it doesn't really affect you I guess," Stegeman said. "I'm just excited to be here. Too much adrenaline."

Stegeman also competed in the high jump and 110-meter hurdles at sectionals, but says the pole vault is his favorite event.

"I've been doing it the longest and I'm the most successful in it," he said. "It's definitely my favorite."

Florence/Niagara, Coleman and Laona/Wabeno each had at least one qualifier as well.

Florence/Niagara's girls squad had two state qualifiers in freshman Alyssa Cretton and junior Khalajia Hannah.

Cretton took 11th in the high jump (4-10) and Khalajia was 12th in the 400-meter dash (1:00.77).

For Coleman, sophomore Hope Patz was 15th in the high jump (4-8) and Miles Kremsreiter ended his career with a 13th-place finish in the 800 (2:03.59).

Laona/Wabeno's William Rabe took 14th in the triple jump (40-9).


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