State track: Raiders take home four medalsHudson junior Ryan Kromer won two medals, and senior Katie Wetzstein and junior Bryan Caffin took home one apiece at the WIAA Track and Field Championships over the weekend in La Crosse.
By: Bob Burrows, Hudson Star-Observer
Maybe it was the shirt. Or maybe Hudson junior Ryan Kromer is simply one of the best distance runners in the state of Wisconsin.
Kromer, wearing the same jersey his father John wore for Hudson in the 1979 state meet, passed two runners in the final 100 meters to finish second in the 3200 meter run Saturday and earn his second medal at the 2012 WIAA State Track and Field Championships.
Kromer’s first medal came in Friday’s 1600 meter race by virtue of a sixth place finish. Senior Katie Wetzstein also won a sixth place medal in the girls’ 1600 meter run while junior Bryan Caffin earned a fourth place medal in the shot put to give the Raiders a total of four medals at the meet.
After finishing sixth in Friday’s 1600 meter run with a personal best time of 4 minutes. 14.65 seconds, Kromer found himself just out of medal position halfway through Saturday’s 3200. He worked himself into third place with one lap remaining before setting the stage for a dramatic finish.
“One guy passed me and I wanted to be higher on the podium so I started kicking with about 100 meters to go. I passed him and saw one more guy ahead of me and went for it.”
Kromer headed down the final stretch on a dead sprint and caught Chandler Diffee of Madison La Follette at the finish line, edging Diffee by one-hundredth of a second to take state runner-up.
Kromer was clocked with a time of 9:19.23, his best 3200 time ever, while Diffee was timed at 9:19.24. Coincidently, Diffee was the Division 1 state cross country champion last fall while Kromer won a fourth place medal.
“Honestly, I just went into survival mode,” Kromer said about his sprint to the finish. “When you see one ahead of you that you think you can catch, you just go after him.”
Kromer said he spotted his father’s old Hudson jersey while packing for the state meet and decided to bring it along.
“I decided to wear it for one of the races,” he said. “Now it’s my lucky charm.”
John Kromer finished third in the 1600 meter run earing the same shirt at the 1979 state meet.
Wetzstein, who is heading to the University of South Dakota next year to run track and cross county, cemented her legacy as one of Hudson’s best distance runners ever by posting personal best times in both the 1600 and 3200 meter runs at the state meet.
Wetzstein’s time of 5:00.03 in Saturday’s 1600 not only cut five seconds off her previous best time, but also set a new Raider senior class record and earned her a sixth place spot on the awards podium. She just missed a medal in Friday’s 3200 meter run, placing seventh with a personal best time of 10:57.05, nine seconds faster than her previous best.
Caffin also saved his best effort for last, turning in a 55-foot effort in Friday’s shot put competition to earn a fourth place medal. He also qualified for state in the discus, placing 16th Saturday with a throw of 143-02, while teammate Jared Johnson finished 19th with a distance of 139-3.
Junior Taylor Steffen competed in Saturday’s girls’ shot put, and shrugged off the nagging effects of a head cold to place seventh in the 24-thrower field with a toss of 38-11.75.
Hudson’s girls’ 4x200 meter relay team of Jordan Huber, Erika Haft, Claire Zais and Katie Thielmann posted a personal best time of 1:46.12 to finish 14th overall. The same foursome teamed up for a 21st place time of 51.12 seconds in the 4x100.
Senior Casey Fall wrapped up her high school career by finishing 12th in the girls’ pole vault with a height of 10-6.
The Raider boys’ 4x100 meter relay team of Tucker Malecha, Tyler Smrcina, Brandon D’Andrea and Dan Kelly combined for a 12th place time of 43.46 seconds, while the 4x200 meter team of Malecha, D’Andrea, Kelly and Nick Jorgenson finished 20th in 1:31.88.
Freshman Wade Malecha made his first appearance at state in the 110 meter high hurdles and finished 22nd with a time of 16.16 seconds.
The Raider boys finished 14th out of 63 teams with 16 points while the Raider girls placed 36th out of 73 teams with seven points.