Warriors shine on biggest track stage

Richards’ wins in discus, shot put help Ozaukee girls to 3rd in Div. 3 state meet

OZAUKEE REPRESENTATIVES at last weekend’s WIAA Division 3 state track and field meet in La Crosse included (from left) Ashlee Mueller, Kelley Large, Amy Hoffmann, Elise Large, Gavin Dorrler, Delanie McFadden, Greta Klas and Jenna Schueller. The Warriors’ other state qualifier was Emma Richards (below). Photo by Sam Arendt
Ozaukee Press staff

The Ozaukee girls’ track and field team racked up five medals, including two golds, and broke a school record in the WIAA Division 3 state meet at the University of Wisconsin-La Crosse last weekend.

The Warriors nearly walked away with the biggest prize of all, a state team title. Ozaukee scored 38 points, good for third place. Champion Benton Co-op scored 40 and Algoma had 39.

“The girls competed hard and left everything on the track and in the throwing circle,” Ozaukee coach Andrew Pfeuffer said.

“I could not be more proud of what our girls’ team has accomplished this season. They are a special group and extremely diligent, smart and kind.”

For Ozaukee’s Emma Richards, the state meet was redemption. Last year, she went for broke but had off days in the shot put and discus and didn’t medal in either.

She fouled on her throws in the discus and on two of her three in the shot put.

“That weekend was a very hard on Emma last year, and we discussed that one bad day does not define who she is as a thrower and an athlete,” Pfeuffer said.

This season, Richards dominated in both events again, qualifying for state for the third straight year and then came home with a pair of gold medals.

Richards started the state meet last Friday much like she did as a junior. Two fouls on her first two throws in the shot put on the pressure.

“That was very nerve-wracking,” she  said.

“My heart was racing,” Pfeuffer said.

Then Richards came through.

“I talked to myself and said, ‘Let me do what I know I did all year,’” she said.

The senior launched the shot 42 feet, 5.25 inches, which got her into the finals.

“It was definitely a good mark I could have up,” she said.

It turned out the throw did more than that. Brianna Leahy of Benton Co-op came within one inch of Richards’ toss, but nobody threw farther in preliminaries or the finals.

Richards won the state title on that final throw just to advance.

“It was great. I was really happy and ecstatic,” she said.

The next morning, Richards started similarly in discus.

“The first throw ended up going into the hammer cage, and they had to file off the edges of the disc. That was pretty nerve-wracking starting off,” she said.

Richards’ next throw reached 142 feet, good for second place. Her third sailed 154 feet, which put her in first.

In the finals, Richards threw a 158-1, which was one inch short of her personal best. The throw also sealed a second gold medal.

Richards won the state title by nearly 14 feet. Katelyn Williams of Algoma was second at 144-7.

“It was really amazing just to have the shot (title).” That really calmed me down for the next day,” Richards said.

“Winning the disc was just icing on the cake. It was just awesome to fall in place.”

It was a family celebration for Richards, who is coached by her father Bill and brother Keegan.

“I’m just thankful for my team, my coaches and my family support,” she said.

“I could not be more proud of how Emma responded to the adversity of last year and the work she put in the offseason paid off,” Pfeuffer said.

“I think having Bill and Keegan coaching our throws crew helped tremendously. It makes a special year that much more special when its an entire family that worked together to achieve their goals.”

Ozaukee senior Elise Large entered the state meet as the defending champion in the 1,600-meter 3,200 runs. She knew she had a target on her back, and both races were decided in near-photo finishes.

In the 3,200 on Friday, Large got boxed in early before breaking out later. She stayed within 10 meters of the leaders and ran in fourth for a while.

She made a pass to move into third and gave it her all on the final two laps.

Large finished second in 11 minutes, 58.32 seconds, just .32 of a second behind Edgar’s Marissa Ellenbecker, who Large edged for the title last year. Rachel Lawton was third in 11:58.62.

“It was a really fun race to run with such good competition,” Large said.

Large said she should have made her move earlier but otherwise ran how she planned.

In the 1,600 on Saturday morning, Large ran against many of the same competitors.

The pack of runners broke up early, and Ellenbecker took the lead, just like Large had figured.

“She’s a phenomenal runner. She’s a gutsy runner,” Large said.

Large kept her in range but lost inside position with 200 meters left. She couldn’t quite catch up to second place and finished third in 5:15.1.

Ellenbecker won in 5:14.12, and Sylvia Hansen of Gillett was second in 5:15.04.

“Again, it was a fun race,” Large said. “I wanted to finish knowing I left it all on the track, and I did do that.”

Individual accomplishments aside, Large said the most fun part was the team aspect.

“Track is an individual sport, but it’s a team sport as well,” she said. “One thing I was most focused on was getting points for the team.”

In Large’s two seasons in track, she brought home four state medals and helped the Warriors win a conference title for the first time in 33 years.

The coaches, family and friends, Large said, “are the reason we got to where we have.”

Pfeuffer said he is proud of his standout runner.

“We are incredibly proud of how Elise competed and finished out her high school career. She is a very gifted runner, student and person,” he said.

The Warriors lose both Richards and Large to graduation, but they will inspire future athletes, Pfeuffer said.

“They left a legacy of leadership, how to work hard and compete the right way for our younger athletes to look up to,” he said.

Ozaukee’s 3,200 relay of Ashlee Mueller, Kelley Large, Jenna Schueller and Amy Hoffmann broke its own school record with a  time of 10:08.08, good for sixth place and the final spot on the medals podium.

Pfeuffer said Mueller started off by putting the relay in a great position and Large kept it in contention. Schueller ran her best split of the season and Hoffmann finished strong.

All four are underclassmen, including the alternate Greta Klas.

“Our girls did a phenomenal job, and I look forward to working with this team over the next two years,” Pfeuffer said.

Ozaukee freshman Delanie McFadden qualified for state in the 100 and 200 dashes. She reached the finals in both events, taking ninth in the 100 in 13.22 and eighth in the 200 in 26.81.

Pfeuffer said he looks forward to her development over the next three years.



Click Here to Send a Letter to the Editor

Ozaukee Press

Wisconsin’s largest paid circulation community weekly newspaper. Serving Port Washington, Saukville, Grafton, Fredonia, Belgium, as well as Ozaukee County government. Locally owned and printed in Port Washington, Wisconsin.

125 E. Main St.
Port Washington, WI 53074
(262) 284-3494


User login