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By Amber Hayden
GLENWOOD CITY — The Glenwood City Hilltoppers track and field teams have begun their practices indoors, like most squads, until the snow and resulting run off dissipates.
First-year head coach, Carrie (Mitch) Blanchard, a former Hilltopper track and field standout back in the mid-1990s, explained that in order to optimize practices, the high school and middle school coaches will be working in tandem with the teams.
Blanchard takes over for Rick Tiberg, who retired at the conclusion of last season.
“A coach specializing in long distance running can work with students in grades 6-12,” Blanchard stated. “We also have a strong group of track athletes that are good leaders and role models for younger and or first year athletes. This is also another pro of combining practices.”
The Toppers’ track and field teams has 17 returning letter winners which features 13 girls. Returning letter winners are Annika Bauman, Myah Eliason, Kinzie Strong, Yasmin Mendez, Lexi Wannemacher, Bella Rassbach, Gabby Moede, Kristin Dayton, Marie Garcia, Hallie Cook, Bethany Ullom, Hanna Strehlo, Delaney Quinn, P.J. Watson, Will Eggert, Jordan Klatt and Zachary Raska.
But the Toppers did have to say goodbye to an outstanding class of athletes and leaders after last season as both the boys’ and girls’ relay teams were hard hit by graduation last May.
“We graduated a strong group of seniors,” said Blanchard. “We will be missing the contributions they brought to the team and their leadership skills.”
The core of the boys’ two-time state medalist 4×100 meter relay team – Darian Multhauf, Jacob Kopacz, Jacob Nelson and Carson Strong – graduated. The quartet was the state champion in 2017 and finished third in 2018. The same group also competed in the state 4×200 meter relay those same years. Kopacz also competed in the state 100 meter dash a year ago taking tenth.
In addition, 2018 graduates Ethan Kahler and Peter Hill also competed for the boys at state last season. Kahler competed in the 300 meter intermediate hurdles and Hill in the high jump. Both finished in 11th place.
Taylor Quinn, who took home the conference championship in the triple jump, also graduated.
The Lady Hilltoppers took three relays of their own to the state meet in LaCrosse last June. For the third consecutive year the girls’ 4×800 meter relay team competed in the state meet. Headlined by three-time state participant Liz Wink, who also ran in her second straight 400 meter state race, along with fellow graduates Megan Speiser and Makayla O’Brien and current sophomore Gabby Moede placed fifth in the 2018 state event. Sophomore Lexi Wannemacher was also a member of the relay.
Wink and Speiser coupled with sophomores Bella Rassbach and Kinzie Strong to run the 4×400 m relay at state.
The girls’ final state-qualifying relay team, the 4×100 meter, will return all of its members this season and includes Rassbach along with fellow sophomores Marie Garcia and Kristin Dayton, junior Bethany Ullom and senior Delaney Quinn.
The girls’ 4×100 meter and 4×400 meter relays both won the Dunn-St. Croix Conference championship.
As a freshman, Yasmin Mendez claimed the GC girls only individual conference title with a win in the shot put. The sophomore will return to defend her title this season and compete in other field events.
All-conference runner Bella Rassbach finished third in the D-SC 100 meters. She also competed in the 100 meters as well as the long jump in the regional and sectional meets.
Senior Hanna Strehlo returns in the 100 meter high hurdles, an event she competed in through sectional competition in 2018.
Glenwood City’s first competition, weather permitting, of the season is scheduled for Thursday, April 4 at St. Croix Central High School.
Seniors: Hadin DeSmith, Hanna Strehlo, Axel Peralta, and Delaney Quinn.
Juniors: Emily Bethell, Halle Cook, Cas Grant, Jabin Hojem, Azra Ibrahimagic, Jordan Klatt, Bryce Nutter, Zach Raska, Bethany Ullom, and Izzy Williams.
Sophomores: Annika Bauman, Kristin Dayton, Isabel Draxler, Will Eggert, Myah Eliason, Marie Garcia, Andy Grant, Jalissa Hager, Nick Hill, Yasmin Mendez, Gabby Moede, Charles Morgan, Bella Rassbach, Kenzie Strong, Alex Swanepoel, Lexi Wannemacher, and P.J. Watson.
Freshmen: Isabel Christmas, Hannah Mattingly, Brady McCarthy, Justin Moe, Austin Nelson, Drew Olson, Sam Peterson, and Brenna Schwartz.