Merrill girls launch into new season
The Bluejay girls jumped feet-first into a new season in last Friday’s indoor opener at UW-Stevens Point, ending up 12th in the 28-team event.
“Friday we experienced a lot of ‘firsts’ of the season – first time vaulting into mats at heights, first time around an indoor track, first time working on steps, or first time using alternates and accepting a challenge,” MHS coach Bethany Martinovici said. “The meet nerves had set in and many of the girls reacted to the meet as if it were their state qualifying meet.
“The coaches and I looked at this meet as a starting point, a place where they could set the bar, and a place to see what really needs to be refined or focused on for our home meet Thursday.”
While the meet represented that beginning point for many, some of the veterans with big aspirations blasted out of the blocks with top performances.
Senior Morgan Marnholtz broke her own school record in the 400M with a runner-up 1:01.86, more than two seconds faster than third place. She also ranked fourth in the triple jump after losing a third-place tie at 33’ 4” that left her 1.5” from first.
Senior Hannah Marrier placed third in the 55M hurdles, less than a tenth of a second out of second place. Junior Rylee Folz placed seventh in the high jump at 4’ 10” for Merrill’s other top-eight finish.
“In the midst of the meet, Morgan Marnholtz completed her trials of the triple jump, which qualified her in the finals, and ran her 400, breaking her indoor 400 school record set in 2014,” Martinovici said. “She ran a smart race and for the beginning of the season- very strong.
“Our three relay teams were also great to watch as the girls were competing together for the first time this year. Communication, practice, and trusting one another will be a large part of defining the group. There will be a few changes in positions and girls if need be, but on Friday, they did well competing after only practicing a handful of times as a group. I know splits will get faster and hand-off transitions will be smoother as we cruise into the season.’
“Hannah Marrier made finals in the 55 hurdles. She is right in the place she should be at this time. Can things be altered and tweaked? Sure, but Hannah knows how, when and where to push herself.”
The 1600M relay team of Marrier, Marnholtz, Kennedy Soderberg and Autumn Schenzel ranked 12th in 4:37.64. Schenzel (13th, :07.86) and Kaitlin Berry (26th, :08.12) showed well in the most-populated event, the 55M dash. Christa Schleif tied for 14th in the pole vault (7’ 0”) and the 800M team of Miranda Jahnke, Folz, Soderberg and Berry finished 17th in 2:01.03.
Being in such an early stage of the season has the Merrill coaching staff acting in an understandably prudent fashion.
“Soreness, bumps, bruises and small injuries were other things that we need to take care of early on,” Martinovici said. “I would rather have them out of events in the early stages of the season than at the end when we need them for conference meets and beyond. We are working on taking care of the injuries, while still focusing on practices and meets in our future.”
Kimberly ran away with the meet, putting up 97 points to far out-distance LaCrosse Logan (39) and Appleton North (38). Merrill (21) ended up in a close race with Valley rivals SPASH (6th, 26), D.C. Everest (9th, 22), Wausau East (11th, 21.5) and Marshfield (14th, 17).