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Raiders cap season at state track

Hudson senor Taylor Steffen smiles on the awards stand after receiving her fifth place medal in the shot put last Saturday at the WIAA State Track and Field Championships in La Crosse.

Not many high school athletes get to end their season in front of a two-day total of 17,395 people, but that's what 28 Hudson athletes had the chance to do at the 2013 WIAA State Track and Field Championships at the Veteran's Memorial Field Sports Complex in La Crosse last weekend.

Raider senior Taylor Steffen made the most of her third and final opportunity at state by bringing home a fifth place medal in the girls' shot put, while freshman Miranda Miller contributed to the Raider girls' team score with an eighth place finish in the 800 meter run. Hudson's girls finished 42nd out of 120 Division 1 schools represented at the meet.

The Raider boys came up empty in the scoring column, with senior Bryan Caffin's 13th place finish in the discus the team's best showing.

"The girls overall did a great job going down to La Crosse and getting a taste of what it means to compete on a pretty awesome stage to finish the 2013 season," girls' head coach Jami Holum said. "With so many girls being underclassmen, it was a great opportunity for the 14 girls to get a feel for what it can be like if they are successful and work hard in the off season."

Steffen, one of just two senior girls at state for the Raiders, reached the awards stand for the first time with a throw of 39-feet, 5.25-inches, good enough for fifth place. She finished seventh at the 2012 state meet as a junior after placing 15th in her first trip in 2011.

Steffen said she her goal was to make the finals in the shot put, then hope for the best. She said she was a lot calmer than her previous two state meets.

"In the past I think I psyched myself out. This year I think I was more relaxed," she said. "I would have liked to put up 40 feet, and in the back of my mind I was going for the school record; I'm only about two inches away."

Steffen will have one more chance at the school record before heading to the University of Wisconsin on a track scholarship in the fall when she competes at the Midwest Senior Spotlight Meet this Saturday, June 8, at the University of St. Francis in Joliet, Ill.

"It has been a great four years for her and it will be fun to see her compete for UW-Madison next year," Holum said about Steffen.

The Raider girls only other points came from Miller, who made her state meet debut with an eighth place time of 2 minutes, 18.92 seconds in the 800 meter run, re-breaking her school record in the event for the fourth time this season.

The Raiders only other senior girl -- Erikka Haft -- was also making her third trip to state as a member of Hudson's 4x100 and 4x200 meter relay teams.

The 4x100 team of junior Julia Douglas, Haft, junior Claire Zais and sophomore Jordan Huber posted a season-best time of 50.46 seconds to finish 18th, while the 4x200 team of Douglas, Haft, junior Katy Fox and Huber finished 17th in 1:48.3.

Douglas also competed in the 100 meter dash and finished 13th with a time of 13.19 seconds.

Miller anchored the Raiders' 4x800 meter relay team behind junior Erin Wetzstein, junior Sadie Kroll and sophomore Rachel Anderson that finished 19th in 9:51.83, while Kroll ran to a 14th place finish in the 1600 meter run with a time of 5:21.98.

Boys' coach Gerry Uchytil described this year's state meet as "bittersweet."

"It was great to be there and the weather cooperated and we had great effort from the kids but... no score," he noted. "I was pleased with the effort and I think most of the kids felt good about what they did."

Senior Alex Beyer ran a personal best time of 50.97 seconds to finish 14th in the 400 dash, while the Raider 4x400 meter relay team of senior Nick Jorgenson, Beyer, senior Greg Frechette and junior Ryan Schramm came close to a season best time, finishing 14th in 3:25.64.

Sophomore John Uchytil cleared 13-feet, 6-inches in the pole vault to finish 14th in his first trip to state, while Caffin recovered from scratching on all three of his throws in Friday's shot put competition to finish 13th in the discus with a throw of 142-feet, 10-inches on Saturday.

"John Uchytil represented himself very well for a sophomore and should do well the next few years," his coach and dad said. "Bryan Caffin tried to really push his limits but in the process scratched, so he didn't score but he tried his best."

The Raiders' 4x800 meter relay team of junior Jack Kadidlo, junior Don Clark, sophomore Michael Laraia and Frechette battled a strong wind during their race Friday night and finished 24th with a time of 8:34.06.

Uchytil said this spring has been one of the most challenging track and field seasons he can remember.

"With seven meet cancellations and poor practice conditions, I was very impressed with our kids' attitude," he said. "They didn't let it get them down and they worked hard to the end."

Holum said she's looking forward to this year's state experience of the underclassmen paying off in the future.

"It was an added bonus to get the all of the freshmen and underclassmen, including the alternates, a chance to go out onto the track in front of an amazing crowd of people to get invigorated and excited for next year," she said. "With so many of the girls returning, there are a lot of great things to come in 2014."

Track camp through community ed

The Hudson track and field staff, under the direction of Uchytil and Holum, will be holding a summer track camp through Community Education the last week in June. See the Community Education link on the Hudson District web page for more information.

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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