Bulldog track steps up to starting line for 2017 season

By Cara L. Dempski

BOYCEVILLE — Bulldog head track and field coach Corey Day sent a pole vaulter and a relay team to the state meet in 2016.

He welcomes back the same pole vaulter and three of the four members of last year’s girls’ 400-meter relay. Day is hoping Tyler Krueger, the vaulter, and Erica Sempf, Carlee Schultz and Cassie Malean, the three remaining sprinters from the relay team, will be joined by a few of their teammates at UW – LaCrosse this year.

Krueger placed seventh in Division 3 competition at last year’s state track meet with a 12 foot, six inch vault, while Sempf, Schultz, Malean and Ireland McAbee-Thomas were ninth in their relay with a time of 52.43 at LaCrosse. The quartet set a new school record for the 400-meter team with a time of 51.84.

If taking four runners and a field event competitor to state was not enough, 12 Bulldog runners were named to all-conference teams for 2016. Sempf, Booth, Schultz and McAbee-Thomas were named first team sprinters, Brooklyn Booth earned first-team honors for her 8-foot pole vault, and Brandon Windsor was awarded first-team status for his shot put distance of 44 feet, one and one-half inches.

Malean also earned second-team honors with her five foot, one inch high jump attempt, Sempf cleared 16 feet in long jump to take second place in the conference, Emma Harnisch vaulted to seven feet, nine inches for a second-place pole vault finish, and McAbee-Thomas finished second in triple jump with a distance of 31 feet, two inches.

Honorable mention, or third-place finishes as the conference meet, was given to Malean for her 13.21 finish in the 100-meter dash, Harnisch for running the 100-meter high hurdles in 19.6, and Haley Wold for a throw of 93 feet, 11 inches in discus. The high concentration of girls in the top three at the 2016 conference meet garnered a third-place team finish for the girls.

The Bulldog boys finished eighth at the Dunn-St. Croix meet, but added boys’ runners Caleb Hagen, Brandon Malean, Jack Kapsner, Rian Corr and Krueger to their all-conference honors. Hagen finished second in the 800-meter race, and joined Kapsner, Malean and Corr to finish the 3200-meter relay in 9:11.16 for second place.

Boyceville lost McAbee-Thomas and Windsor to graduation in 2016, along with Kapsner and hurdler Anna Hagen. As noted previously, the Bulldogs return three of their four girls’ 400-meter relay team and three of their boys’ 3200-meter relay. 

Booth, Malean, Schultz and Sempf return to the 2017 team as senior letter winners, and are joined by juniors Satina Chilson, Emily Voelker, Paulina Wenke and Haley Wold. On the boys’ team, Kiel Anderson, Michael Chich, Rian Corr, Emmett Kapsner, Brandon Kenefick, Tyler Krueger, Brandon Malean, Dylan McNew, Trystin O’Connell and Damien Waller return to this season as varsity letter winners. 

Day seems pleased to have so many talented runners and field event competitors returning in 2017. 

“We lack numbers, but we have a lot of experience with a junior- and senior-heavy roster,” Day said. “We have some field event people that are exceptional, and will make up for lost points in lack of numbers.”

One of the field event competitors Day will be relying on to provide more team points this year is senior Brooklyn Booth. The athlete has been one height away from qualifying for state for two years, and was the 2016 conference and regional champion in girls’ pole vault. 

Day also said Wold, Wenke and Chilson dedicated themselves to working harder in the off-season, and thinks they will “turn heads” this year in the discus. Emily Voelker, who Day finally convinced to join his cross country team last fall, returns to the track this spring in the hopes of leading the female distance runners.

Krueger has qualified for state in pole vault for the past two years, and Day is hoping the senior will lead the boys’ team. Hagen, last year’s conference runner-up in the 800-meter race, looks to provide leadership for the middle distance, and Chich went to sectionals for pole vault in 2016. He will round out the middle distance runners for the boys.

Junior Brandon Kenefick did a lot of work between the end of the 2016 season and the beginning of practice on March 6. Day said Kenefick will be one to watch in pole vault.

Kiel Anderson, who finished last fall’s cross country season by being named to the second team all-conference, will provide leadership for the distance runners with the assistance of junior Rian Corr.

Freshman Naomi Hillman was a second-team runner in the Dunn-St. Croix during the 2016 cross county season, and Day is hoping she will add a little something extra to his girls’ track team.

“Her (Hillman’s) true strength is her speed, which plays to her favor in track,” Day stated. 

The Bulldogs head coach named Kyra Benson, Tara Gunnefson, Abby Litomsky and Rachel Becker as new talent with high potential to make substantial contributions to this year’s team.

The team’s main goal this year is to have a strong conference showing and qualify as many individuals as possible for sectionals and state, but Day said there is a numerical goal the team is trying to reach too.

“Statistically, our goal is to get one percent better each day, and if we do that, we will have some really strong performances this year,” the coach finished.

Day indicated Elk Mound will be the team to beat this season because the Mounders are always bringing their number-one game. The Bulldogs’ head coach has been with the team for 10 years, and was assisted last year and this year by coach Jacob Peterson.

The Bulldog girls finished last season with a third-place finish at conference, second at regionals, and 15th at sectionals. The boys’ team was eighth at conference and regionals, and was 24th at sectionals.

Boyceville ran its first meet on March 16 at St. Croix Central, and will take a one-week break before hitting the indoor track at the Menomonie High School field house on March 23. The Bulldogs will then take a day to practice before heading to the Northern Badger Classic meet at UW – Stout on March 25. They will return to UW – Stout on March 28 for another meet.

Roster:

Seniors – Brooklyn Booth, Cassie Malean, Carlee Schutlz, Erica Sempf, Kiel Anderson, Michael Chich, Caleb Hagen and Tyler Krueger.

Juniors – Satina Chilson, Lauren Dominick, Emily Voelker, Paulina Wenke, Haley Wold, Rian Corr, Ryker Ferg, Emmett Kapsner, Brandon Kenefick, Brandon Malean, Trystin O’Connell and Josh Smith.

Sophomores – Abby Litomsky, Gage Brown, Dylan McNew and Damien Waller.

Freshmen – Rachel Becker, Kyra Benson, Ana Evenson, Tara Gunnafsen, Naomi Hillman, Jasmine Windsor, Ty Gundlach and Steven Rasmussen.