Track and Field: Raiders shine on big stage
Catch the person in front of you.
That's the strategy the Hudson girls' 4x200-meter relay team used at the WIAA State Track and Field Championships Saturday, June 2, in La Crosse.
After qualifying for the finals with the fifth fastest time of 1 minute, 42.93 seconds in Friday's preliminaries, the Raider team of Anna Wilgren, Bailee Dierks, Kady Kochendorfer and Lexi LeFever moved up one spot to finish fourth in Saturday's finals, and earn a berth on the awards podium, with a time of 1:42.7.
Dierks also earned a fourth-place medal in the 100 hurdles and the girls' 4x100 relay team reached the finals to highlight a state weekend that also included record-setting individual efforts by Kochendorfer and Le Fever.
Fifteen girls represented Hudson in 11 events at the 123rd running of the WIAA State Track and Field Championships at Veterans Memorial Stadium in La Crosse over the weekend to cap a successful 2018 Raider season that included Big Rivers Conference, regional and sectional team titles.
For five of the 15 state qualifiers—Wilgren, Kochendorfer, LeFever, Julia Bennett and Emma Newman—it was the final meet of their high school careers.
"We are really going to miss the five graduating seniors of the 15 girls we brought down, but the 10 underclassmen that we had down at state had some terrific performances and the experience will be a great start to their next season," head coach Jami Holum said.
Kochendorfer competed in four events in her fourth and final trip to state, kicking off the weekend by breaking teammate LeFever's school record in the 100 with a time of 12.52 seconds in Friday's preliminaries. LeFever set the old mark of 12.54 in 2017.
In addition to running the third leg on Hudson's fourth place 4x200 relay team, Kochendorfer teamed up with Wilgren, Emma Olson and LeFever to post an eighth place time of 49.57 seconds in the 4x100 finals. The foursome earned the 10th and final qualifying spot with a time of 49.21 in Friday's preliminaries.
Kochendorfer also just missed reaching the podium in the triple jump with a distance of 36 feet, 10.5 inches.
After Kochendorfer replaced LeFever as the school record holder in the 100, LeFever went out and crushed the seven year-old school record in the 200, clocking a time of 25.16 in Friday's preliminaries to place 11th overall and break the previous school mark of 25.61 set by Angela Tipp in 2011.
Kochendorfer and LeFever were part of Hudson's 4x100 and 4x200 relay teams that have advanced to state all four years and reached the podium in at least one of the events the last three years. They will continue to be teammates at UW-Eau Claire next year, but LeFever said it was "weird" knowing they were running together as high school teammates for the last time Saturday.
"It was weird thinking it's our last 4x200 ever because college doesn't have it," she said. "So running it together today was a great way to finish the season, especially on the podium."
Dierks earned her second state medal in the 100 hurdles with a fourth-place time of 15.23 seconds in Saturday's finals. She finished second in the 100 hurdles and fourth in the 300 hurdles last year but she said she was happy with her fourth-place finish Saturday.
"I think higher is always better, but top six, second year in a row, it's pretty good. I'll take it," she said.
After missing last year's state meet with a stress fracture in her foot, Wilgren got the chance to end her illustrious career at Hudson on the awards podium Saturday alongside her 4x200 relay teammates.
"It was awesome," she said. "It was good to end my senior year like that."
Wilgren, Hudson's girls' hockey's all-time leading scorer and a state qualifier in tennis, will head to Minnesota State University, Mankato for hockey next year, but Holum said her contributions to the Raider track team shouldn't be overlooked.
"She led off both scoring relays, running remarkably well as the most stable and reliable relay lead off we have had in a long time," Holum said.
Sophomore Rachel Ball ran three distant events over the two days, posting a personal best time of 5:16.99 in the 1,600 to place 17th, placing 12th in the 3,200 in 11:37.04, and teaming up with Bennett, Alicia Belany and Anna Czupryna for a 17th place time of 9:54.76 in the 4x800 meter relay.
Czupryna also competed in the 800 and placed 19th with a time of 2:22.3, and Belany finished 24th in the 1,600 in 5:29.7. Olson contributed a 20th place time of 25.87 seconds in the 200 while Newman capped her high school career by tying her personal best of 10-6 in the pole vault to place 14th.
The lone boy to represent Hudson at the state meet, Carter Maack, finished 15th overall in the 110 hurdles with a time of 15.2 seconds.
Holum said the weekend was a fitting way to end a great season.
"They are a pretty strong unit with really uniquely positive personalities, from the sprinters through the distance runners into the field events," she said. "I am extremely proud of them, and it is hard to put into words how lucky I am to be able to work with this group."