It was a weekend of near misses in a push to win medals for the Oregon boys track team at the WIAA Division 1 state meet Friday, May 31 and Saturday, June 1 in La Crosse.
Two sprint relay teams for the Panthers were one second or less away from reaching the podium at UW-La Crosse’s Veterans Memorial Stadium.
Junior Matt Kissling couldn’t help but sprint onto the track to give freshman Yordanos Zeliniski a hug after the boys’ 4x400-meter relay.
Zelinski was busy staring at the electronic jumbotron to see the Panthers’ time in what appeared like a fifth-place finish and a spot on the podium Saturday.
An hour later, that medal was gone.
A meet official and appeal committee met with every coach before ruling teams could run the race again because of a disqualification on Neenah when runners collided on the final hand off.
The Panthers’ team of senior Ian Ganshert, senior Carter Hendrickson, Kissling and Zelinski opted to keep its time of 3 minutes, 26.45 seconds and not run the race again. It was just off the Panthers’ season-best time they ran in the preliminaries on Friday of 3:23.85.
Both Bay Port and Appleton North ran faster times in the rerun, bumping Oregon from fifth to seventh and causing it to miss a medal by 1.02 seconds.
“We knew it was a risk not to run the race again,” Hendrickson said.
Hendrickson took the stunning result in stride despite it being his final chance to medal at state.
“It’s upsetting and sad,” Hendrickson said. “We can’t do anything about it. It’s insane that Bay Port and Appleton North ran back-to-back 4x400 relays and ran a 3:24. For them to do that, they deserve it.”
Coach Ned Lease said how the race was run again was not fair because some teams used alternates that were fresh, others used their same runners and only four teams elected to run the 10-team race again.
The Panthers failed to earn a medal.
Their 4x200 relay team of Hendrickson, sophomore Ryan McCorkle, senior Kamron Armstrong and Kissling took seventh (1:29.51), 0.27 seconds away from a sixth-place medal that River Falls captured.
The 800 relay team set a school record (1:29.23) taking fourth in the preliminaries on Friday. The top 10 finishers in preliminaries reached the finals.
“All of this work has paid off for the past couple of months,” Kissling said after the race Friday. “Everything felt really good and seemed to click. There can be adjustments on hand offs, but overall, it was really strong.”
Kissling placed 15th in the prelims of the 200 with a personal-record time of :22.38.
“You always wish you can get on to that finals stage,” Kissling said. “I had a really good run and PRed. I can’t be disappointed with how I ran. Next year I hope to be on that finals podium.”