This weekend, the Whitewater Boys’ and Girls’ Track and Field team concluded their season at the WIAA State Track and Field Championships in La Crosse. The two-day meet included events consisting of 16 competitors in each event who qualified from their respective Sectionals.
On Friday, a pair of athletes competed in field events, while on the track sprinters competed for a chance to run in the Final on Saturday. In the field events, Jaylyn Ewing was a first-time State qualifier in the High Jump, after being named an extra qualifier based on his Sectional performance. In the competition, Jaylyn jumped 6’-0”, tying his personal best. He had no misses until he attempted 6’-2”. Jaylyn’s height placed him in a tie for 10th place. Also, in the field events, and also an extra qualifier from the tough McFarland Sectional, senior Evie Troxel competed in the Pole Vault. Evie cleared her first three heights, 9’, 9’-6”, & 10’, without any misses. After two misses at the next height, 10’-6”, Evie gave it everything she had and cleared the height to earn three more attempts at the next height. After calculating the results, five girls cleared the same height of 10’-6”. However, because she cleanly cleared her three initial heights, Evie’s jump placed her in 6th place, earning a spot on the podium! Evie concludes her career as a two-time state qualifier, and her height of 10’-6” is a Top-5 vault in WHS history.
On the track, three Whippets competed in the preliminaries of the individual sprint events.
First up, senior Maddie Buehler raced in the first heat of the 100-meter dash, just as she did in 2022. After a false start from one of her competitors, the race was restarted. Maddie placed 4th in her heat with a time of 12.72, and after the second heat was concluded, her time was good for 9th place, qualifying her for the Finals Saturday. Junior Ethan Dugan competed in the Boys 400-meter dash, running in the first of two heats as well. This was Dugan’s second time qualifying for this event in as many years. Going up against tough competition, Ethan placed 5th in his heat in a time of 50.90. Dugan waited with bated breath during the second preliminary heat, but his time placed him in 10th, qualifying him for Saturday’s Final as well. Finally, senior Kindyl Kilar competed in the 200-meter dash for the second year in a row. Racing in the first heat, Kindyl held her own, placing 6th in a time of 26.06. When all was said and done after the second heat was completed, which included a runner from Shorewood breaking the existing State Record in the event, Kindyl’s time placed her in 12th, which although did not qualify for the Final, bettered her finish from the 2022 State Meet in the event.
Additionally, two girls’ relays ran and both qualified for the Saturday Final. First, the 4×200 meter relay team of Buehler, Sydney Schilt, Emma Weigel, and Kilar blazed ahead with the third fastest time of the day in 1:44.49, as they were edged slightly by Conference Rival East Troy. Returning to the track for the 4×100 meter relay less than an hour later, the team of Calli Grosinske, Buehler, Weigel, and Kilar responded with an astonishing time of 48.96, which again broke their school record. Their time was the fastest of all preliminary heats, earning them a spot in the fast lane for Finals. When all was said and done, the time was the fastest in Division 2 during the 2023 season.
Saturday was a magical day for the Whippets Track & Field team. Each athlete who competed on Saturday earned points for the team by placing within the Top 8 of their events.
Kicking off the day, Maddie Buehler raced in the Final of the 100-meter dash. After qualifying for the final in 9th, she was in Lane 1, but ready to improve upon her preliminary seed. The 2023 Final of the Girls 100 was incredibly fast, as the winner broke the existing State record. However, Maddie competed hard, crossing the finish line in 8th place in a time of 12.50, just .13 off her personal best. Maddie concluded her individual event career as a two-time State finalist in the 100-meter dash, the #2 100-meter runner all-time in WHS history, and earned a point for the team with her performance.
In the 400-meter dash, Ethan Dugan took some time during Friday evening to plan his race strategy, which in the Final he executed brilliantly. His combination of a strong block start, aggressive first 200 meters, and racing against incredible competition, Dugan used a late-race surge to propel himself to an 8th place finish, earning a point for the boys’ team. Dugan’s time of 49.98 was good for a personal best, and an improvement upon his already #5 all-time mark in the WHS history books.
In the Discus, senior Connor Raupp came into the competition firing, leading off with a strong first throw of 159’-1”. Connor continued to throw close to that mark, throughout the prelims and the Final. However, his first toss was enough to place him fourth, earning a spot on the podium. Raupp concludes his exceptional prep career as a State finalist and two-time RVC champion.
Back on the track, the girls’ 4×100 meter relay team competed in the Final of the event. After a long day already, the girls competed their absolute hardest, and executed their handoffs excellently. However, they faced their toughest competition of the year in a team from Notre Dame Academy. In an incredible finish, the Whippet girls crossed the finish line in second place as State Runners-up in a time of 49.34. The race was their fourth sub-50 second relay time of the season. Before this season, no WHS 4×100 had run better than 50.30. The team of Calli Grosinske, Maddie Buehler, Emma Weigel, and Kindyl Kilar held their heads high as State Runners-up, school record holders, and with their Friday preliminary time of 48.96 as the fastest Division 2 time in the state in 2023, only .27 off the State record of 48.69.
On the boys’ side, sophomore Jack Hefty highlighted the meet for the Whippets with his performance in the 1600-meter run. During the first lap, Jack appeared to be boxed in the inside lane around 7th-10th place. Without panicking, Jack ran the pace of the other competitors for the first lap. About halfway through the second lap, the field began to spread out. Jack moved up six places over the course of the second lap, moving up to fourth place. The slower paced 2:12 first half mile gave Hefty confidence heading into the second half of the race. Jack moved up to second place over the third lap, and sat behind Eli Boppart of Mauston as the bell rang, indicating one lap remaining. With about 250 meters to go, Jack turned on the jets, passing Boppart, and moving into the lead. With his foot speed from several 400-meter races, Jack pressed ahead, creating a wider and wider gap between himself and second place. Hefty crossed the finish line, threw up his arms in celebration, and earned the title of State Champion. Jack finished the final lap in an astounding 59.50, the only competitor to split sub-60 seconds for the final 400m. Jack’s time of 4:16.47 established a new school record, besting Brett Harms’ time of 4:19.30 from 2014. Jack joins Ben Maas (1996), John Crummey (1963), and Leonard Converse (1927) as Whippets who can call themselves State Champions in the 1600-meter run. Congratulations Jack Hefty, your 2023 State Champion in the 1600m!!!
About 15 minutes after Jack’s race, the girls’ 4×200 meter relay took to the track. After qualifying for the final with the third fastest time, the girls were looking to improve upon their seed. Maddie Buehler started out of the blocks, quickly reducing some of the stagger between the Whippets and their competitors. Freshman Sydney Schilt held their position, running a strong second leg, and executing a stellar handoff to senior Emma Weigel, battling a slight headwind on the final 100, Weigel handed off to senior Kindyl Kilar, the Whippets’ trusty relay anchor. Seeing that she was slightly behind, Kilar received the baton and got to work. She passed two schools to quickly catch up with East Troy who had the fast lane. For the final 100 meters on the home stretch, Kilar battled back and forth with East Troy’s anchor leg, and passed her to finish the race in first place, earning Whitewater’s second State Championship in a 15-minute span. The relay’s time of 1:42.95 established a new school record, was the fastest time in Division 2 in 2023, and was the second-fastest time in Division 2 history and only the second relay team to go sub-1:43. The team broke the previous school record of 1:43.93, which stood since 1986. The 1986 team’s record was the State record for 24 years until it was broken in 2010. The 2023 girls add themselves to the list of State Champion relays in the event, joining teams from 1998, 1997, 1989, 1988, and 1986 as State Champions. Congratulations to the girls’ 4×200 meter relay team, your 2023 State Champions!!!
Article and Photos Submitted by Matt Green
Whitewater High School Head Track and Field Coach