Pioneer track teams take third, eighth at WIAC Meet

Seniors Aaron Hrubes and Chas Spangenberg were instrumental in the University of Wisconisn-Platteville men’s track and field team taking third place, the team’s highest finish since 1969, in the WIAC Outdoor Track and Field Championships Saturday.

The team improved as a whole through this season after finished fifth at the WIAC Indoor Track and Field Championships Feb. 23.

“We’ve had more time to practice outside, and that’s helped us,” Hrubes said.  “And, personally, the coaching I’ve gotten from coach (Chris) Rotzenberg has helped me run faster than ever.”

Hrubes, a sprinter from Madison, took second place in the 100- and 200-meter dashes, trailing champion Thurgood Dennis from University of Wisconsin-Eau Claire by 0.26 seconds in the 100, and 0.39 seconds in the 200.

“Thurgood Dennis has been Eau Claire’s powerhouse this year,” Hrubes said.  “I knew I was going to have to work hard to earn the spots I did.”

The 4×100-meter relay team of Hrubes, senior Jordan Olp, senior Casey Goffinet and freshman Caleb Mertens seized the WIAC title in 41.13 seconds, edging out University of Wisconsin-La Crosse’s team by 0.21 seconds.

“That was the best we’ve ever run,” Hrubes said.  “We’ve got a good set up with our anchor spot (Mertens) now, and our handoffs have been great.”

Moving forward, Hrubes plans to stop competing in the 100- and 200-meter races in order to rest for the NCAA Division III Outdoor Track and Field Championships May 23-25.

However, Hrubes and his team are considering forming a team for the 4×400-meter race, in which case the squad would need to compete in upcoming meets to attempt to make the national qualifier list.

Spangenberg took second in the pole vault, falling just one-tenth of a meter short of the winning jump of 4.92 meters.  Freshman Malachi Romportl was close behind Spangenberg, taking fourth place at 4.72 meters.

Junior T.J. Valley took second place in the 110-meter hurdles, and the 4×800-meter relay team of sophomores Matt Kocak, Joel Walden and Jason Henkins, along with freshman Darren Hudziak, finished in second place as well.

The women’s track and field team garnered eighth place at the championships.

Freshman Emily Kjos won the javelin throw in her first outdoor championships, besting the next closest competitor by nine inches.

“It was one of those days that the weather was going to determine how well we could do,” Kjos said. “None of us at the meet threw our best, but I was able throw the best on the day.”

Kjos’ performance is even more impressive in that she just began throwing last month.

“I walked in and felt like I really wanted to try (throwing). With the help of my coaches I was able to get to this point. I’m pumped for what the future holds,” Kjos said.

Junior Lynea Axelson continued her successful outdoor season with a third-place showing in the 800-meter run with a time of 2:13.26.

Freshman Alyssa Iserman took sixth in the high jump, just two inches away from the winning leap.

Athletes from both the men’s and women’s teams will either head to the Dr. Keeler Invitational at North Central College in Naperville, Ill., or to the La Crosse Open this weekend.