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Raider junior Ryan Kromer leads the pack early in the boys' 1600 meter run last Monday at the WIAA regional meet in New Richmond. Kromer won the race and went on to take first in both the 1600 and 3200 meter races at Thursday's sectional meet in Rice Lake to qualify for this weekend's state meet in La Crosse in both events. Photo by Bob Burrows

Raiders on track to state; WIAA Championships this weekend in La Crosse

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Raiders on track to state; WIAA Championships this weekend in La Crosse
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Sitting around for nearly three hours waiting for the rain to let up in Rice Lake last Thursday, May 24 didn't seem to have much of an effect on the Hudson Track and Field teams.

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By the time the meet finally ended under the lights at the sectional meet, 20 Raider athletes had punched their tickets to this weekend's WIAA State Track and Field Championships in La Crosse.

Hudson took home five individual sectional titles and the Raider boys' earned the sectional team title while the girls finished third at the 17-team meet. Hudson's girls' coach Jami Holum said the meet was memorable for a lot of reasons.

"The sectional meet was fantastic, and one that the athletes will probably never forget," she said. "There were a lot of weather delays at the beginning but the athletes made the most of it. Once the meet started, they were ready to go and had a great day."

Junior Ryan Kromer won an individual title in the 1600 by over seven seconds with a time of 4 minutes, 23.53 seconds, and took second in the 3200 in 9:36.2 to qualify for state in both events. It will be Kromer's second state tournament appearance in three years after finishing 16th in the 1600 as a freshman in 2010.

Junior Bryan Caffin won the shot put title with a throw of 54-feet, 8.75 seconds and took third in the discus with a toss of 137-2.5 to earn his first trip to state in both events, while senior Katie Wetzstein is heading to state for the third straight year after placing second in both the 1600 meter run in 5:06.21 and the 3200 meter run in 11:06.84. Wetzstein finished seventh in the 1600 and eighth in the 3200 at last year's state meet.

Junior Taylor Steffen won the sectional title in the girls' shot put with a throw of 41-4 to earn her second straight trip to state.

Hudson's girls claimed a pair of sectional titles in the relays. In the 4x100, sophomore Julia Douglas, freshman Jordan Huber, sophomore Claire Zais and senior Katie Thielmann teamed up for a first place time of 51.19 seconds, while in the 4x200, Huber, junior Erikka Haft, Zais and Thielmann won with a time of 1:47.29.

It will be the third state meet for Thielmann and Haft as part of Raider relay teams. Last year they were part of Hudson's third place 4x100 meter team.

Senior Tucker Malecha will compete at the state meet for the fourth straight years after qualifying with the Raider boys 4x100 and 4x200 meter relay teams at the sectional meet. He teamed up with juniors Brandon D'Andrea, Nick Jorgenson and Dan Kelly for a second place time of 1:31.42 in the 4x200, and combined with D'Andrea, senior Tyler Smrcina and Kelly for a second place time of 43.92 seconds in the 4x100.

Malecha, Jorgenson and Smrcina were all part of the Raiders' 4x200 state qualifying team last season while D'Andrea ran on last year's 4x100 team.

Senior Casey Fall returns to state for the second straight year after finishing second at the Rice Lake sectional with a height of 11 feet in the pole vault. Last year she finished 10 feet at state to finish 14th.

Sophomore Wade Malecha qualified for his first state meet in the 110 meter high hurdles with a time of 15.86 seconds, while sophomore Jared Johnson will make his first state appearance in the discus after finishing third as sectional with a throw of 144-0.5.

Freshman Dakota Carlson will travel to state as an alternate for the girls' 4x100 and 4x200 meter relay teams while sophomore Nate Bennett and freshman Braden Marvin will serve as alternates on the boys' relay teams.

Holum said all the athletes are excited to compete in the biggest meet of the year.

"It should be exciting, considering how well they sit in their events," she said. "The teams both did a great job at the sectional and will take that momentum into state."

The WIAA State Track and Field Championships gets underway with Division 1 competition Friday, June 1 at 9:30 a.m. Girls' pole vault, boys' shot put, boys' 1600 meter run and girls' 3200 meter run, as well as preliminary heats will take place Friday. Finals in all events, as well as the boys' discus, girls' shot put, girls' 1600 meter run and boys' 3200 meter run, will take place Saturday, June 2.

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Bob Burrows
Bob Burrows has been sports editor at the River Falls Journal since 1996 and at the Hudson Star-Observer since 2009. Prior to joining the Journal, Burrows served as sports editor with Ledger Publications in Balsam Lake, Wis. A native of Bayonne, N.J. and a U.S. Navy veteran, Burrows attended Marquette University before completing his studies at UW-River Falls in 1992.
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