Whippets 4 x 200 relay team takes 5th at State Championships

From Coach Houwers:

The Whippets finished off the 2018 track and field season at LaCrosse this weekend. The weekend started off with excitement and anticipation as we climbed into vans for the trip. About 40 minutes into the trip, it came to a complete halt, with all traffic coming to a complete standstill for an hour and a half due to an accident. It added a little stress to the morning, forcing some changes in the plan. But we arrived with plenty of time to get checked into our rooms and get ready for the meet to begin at 3 pm.

Miranda Reynolds was the first Whippet to go. She cleared 4′ 10″ in the high jump, and then bowed out at 5′. She had some nice attempts at 5′, but showed a little inconsistently, the result of only jumping in 3 meets prior to to the state meet due to a quad injury. She was disappointed with the result, as she was hoping for better. She’s been forced to deal injuries at inopportune times each of the last two years. But she ended her high school career as one of the top high jumpers in WHS history, as only the 4th high jumper to even qualify for state.

Sashi Popke was next up, starting what would be a very busy weekend. He got things going in the pole vault. He vaulted as good as he ever has, equaling his lifetime bet of 13’6″. This meet, he cleared that bar without a miss. Unfortunately, 6 other competitors cleared the next height of 14′, meaning Sashi would finish 7th, just one place off the podium.

The 4x200m relay team of Tyler Sheffield, Will Leibbrand, Popke and Jack Mayer had their preliminary race on Friday, running a very solid race, and very close race. The Whippets were edged out at the line by Aquinas by only .01 seconds. Oddly, in the second heat, the team from Wautoma managed to finish between the Whippets and Aquinas, leaving 3 teams within .01 seconds of other heading to finals. On Saturday, the Whippets ran well again, equaling their seed from Friday, finishing 5th. The effort resulted in a trip to the podium and the highest finish for the Whippets this weekend.

The same four boys ran in the 4x100m relay and also competed both Friday and Saturday. On Friday, the team struggled a little bit, with a poor handoff almost costing the team an opportunity to compete on Saturday. They managed to sneak into finals with the last qualifying time. It was a chance for redemption. Saturday was a better race, but only enough to finish 8th overall. While they scored, it wasn’t quite enough to make the podium. Their best race proved to be at Sectionals, where they set a new school record.

The final event of the weekend was the long jump, where Popke got an opportunity to make one more trip to the podium. The timing of the event ended up less than ideal for him, as it fell right between the two relays he was running on. The 4×200 went first. Then he had to come back to the runway to get approaches in. He was ushered away for the 4×100 before he could make adjustments to his approach due to the headwind they were jumping into. After the 4×1, meet officials quickly ushered him back to the event even though he was supposed to be allowed 15 minutes to check out for his event. He put two of his jumps on the board and managed to make finals, seeded 7th. His one scratch was by a fraction of an inch, and clearly his best jump of the day. In finals, the wind picked up and not a single jumper better their jump. He finished 7th, and again 1 spot off the podium. Even without the medals, Popke ended one of the best track seasons ever for a Whippet as just the second WHS athlete to qualify in 4 events for the state meet.

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