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Written by Mitch Maersch   
Thursday, 30 March 2017 15:59

Large turnouts brighten track and field prospects for Grafton boys and girls

This season’s Grafton track and field teams return several state qualifiers, and a host of young Black Hawks are joining them.

The boys’ and girls’ squads each have more than 50 athletes, one of the best turnouts in recent years, according to coach Kevin Kriegel.

Usually, the girls’ team has 30 to 40 athletes. This year, 18 freshmen are participating.

“That’s huge for us,” Kriegel said.

Junior Abby Cibulka is back with the girls after qualifying for state in the long jump and as a member of the 800-meter relay. The other three runners graduated, but alternate Lizbeth Huertas is back for her junior season. 

Sophomore Julia Wille returns after qualifying for state in the 1,600 run.

For the boys, Bobby Olmr and John Kluck are back from Grafton’s state-qualifying 400 and 800 relays. Sophomore Caden Knauer was an alternate on both relays, and senior Ryan Melotik was an alternate on the 800 unit.

Kriegel said his boys’ team should be strong in the sprints — including  the 100 and  200 dashes and 400 and 800 relays — as well as distance running events.

“I think we have a pretty solid distance team,” he said.

Junior Nick Franzen could excel at discus after missing state by one place last year.

For the girls, senior Casey Garza and sophomore Justine Tiegs are expected to lead the discus throwers.

One big difference this year is that Grafton have been moved up to Division 1. Kriegel said Grafton could be the state’s second-smallest Division 1 school.

But Kriegel, who has been coaching since 2001, said he has always tried to expose his team to large meets with more competitors.

“I think it’s better just to go against better competition even though you’re a smaller school,” he said.

“We’ll see a lot of Division 1 schools at most of the meets. It makes a big, big difference competing against better kids and at meets just with more kids.”

On March 20, the Grafton girls tied for 10th place in the Lois Wolf Invitational at Whitefish Bay. The Hawks and Racine Horlick each scored 22 points.

Kenosha Tremper won the 14-team meet with 72 points.

Cibulka was third in the long jump with a leap of 16 feet, 3.75 inches. Garza was fourth in the shot put (33-4).

Wille was fifth in the 800 run (2 minutes, 41 seconds). Nathalie Arendt was sixth in pole vault (8 feet).

In the Nelson-Daniels Small School Invitational at the University of Wisconsin-Whitewater on March 17, the Grafton girls took fifth place with 34 points.

Jefferson won the meet with 54 points.

Garza took second in the shot put (32-9.75), and Tiegs was third (32-3.75).

Wille was third in the 1,600 in 5 minutes, 43 seconds.

The 800 relay of Huertas, Kate Senczyszyn, Delaney Reindl and Jaden Mirek took fourth (1:54).

The 1,600 relay of Senczyszyn, Kirsten Van Ryzin, Wille and Mirek took fifth (4:32).

The boys finished 13th with 16 points. Monona Grove won with 84.

Melotik was third in the 400 dash (53.13). Placing fourth were the 800 relay of Knauer, Olmr, Melotik and Kluck (1:38) and the 1,600 relay of Olmr, Ian Bould, Knauer and Melotick (3:43).

Grafton’s boys next compete Saturday at the Madison West Relays, which operates as a regular invitational. The girls and boys both compete at the North Shore Conference Indoor Meet at Homestead on April 6. 

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