By Nick Beversdorf
Bluejay varsity track had their first Valley Conference Meet this past Tuesday at UW-Stevens Point. Unfortunately, the Merrill athletes did not perform as well as anticipated. Both varsity girls and boys teams placed last (7th place) with 23 and 30 points, respectively. Stevens Point held the advantage at the event, placing first by a relatively wide margin for both boys and girls.
“Merrill Track got a good dose of what other competition is out there in the conference,” comments head coach Kurt VandenHeuvel. “We made mistakes and lacked confidence which led to the end result and sloppy performances, but that is to be expected when a new philosophy and high standards are being set and athletes really want to excel early in the season. We are building a culture and embracing challenges. Last night was a very challenging event for our athletes but the best way to learn and grow in this sport is to get knocked down right away and respond by getting back up. We are excited to see how the athletes respond.”
However, there still were some notable performances. Top performers for the girls include Sr. Rylee Folz who placed first in the high jump with a clean 5 ft, So. Autumn Schenzel who placed fifth in the qualifying 55-meter dash with a time of 7.78 sec and placed fourth in the finals with the same time, and Fr. Dalie Thomas who placed fourth in the 400 meter dash with a time of 1:03.05 sec.
Top performers for the boys include Jr. Todd Grund who placed third in the pole vault with a score of 12 ft. 6 in., Fr. Jared Ollhoff who placed third in the qualifying triple jump with a score of 40 ft. 6.75 in. and 2nd in the finals with 41 ft. 2.5 in., and So. Adam Laehn who placed fourth in the qualifying long jump with 19 ft. 1 in. and eighth in the finals with the same score.
“There still were standout performances,” adds Kurt. “They include Rylee Folz winning the High Jump, Jared Ollhoff placing 2nd in the Triple Jump, Daile Thomas just coming up short of breaking the 400 indoor school record and Todd Grund battling in the PV to end up 3rd. We are a talented team but lack belief. We will continue to look forward working on the things we can control and know that the outcome we want to reach is at the end of the season.”
Bluejay varsity track will compete again at 4:00 p.m. on April 19th @ Wausau West. The girls will participate in an invite while the boys will be participating in a triangular.