Verona senior Max Herkert had to make a quick switch into his high jumping shoes after matching a personal-best in the pole vault at the WIAA Division 1 Verona sectional on Thursday, May 23, at Curtis Jones Field.
Herkert went on to win sectional titles in the pole vault (14 feet, 6 inches) and the high jump with a PR of 6-6 to punch his ticket to state in both events.
The Wildcats had six individual events and two relays qualify for the state track meet Friday, May 31, and Saturday, June 1, at the University of La Crosse’s Veterans Memorial Stadium.
Herkert's mark in the pole vault broke the Curtis Jones Field track and field record.
“In the last few meets, we were jumping just to qualify and then we would stop,” Herkert said. “He (pole vault coach Rob Szymanski) finally let me loose, and it felt good to tie my PR.”
Herkert, who now owns the school record, as well, had a strong final attempt at 15-0, but his foot just clipped the bar.
“My last attempt, it felt like I was going to fly over it,” he said. “It’s promising. I know I can get it now.”
In the high jump, Herkert made 6-4 on his final attempt – with four high jumpers left, including Verona senior Jatavion Hawkins. The top three automatically qualify for state.
“It was a huge relief,” Herkert said. “After that, I knew I had already qualified, and it was just see how high I can go. The 6-5 was unexpected, and all of a sudden, that 6-6 was even more unexpected.”
Hawkins cleared a PR of 6-5 to take third. He said it’s the first time Herkert has beat him in the high jump.
“I always love competing with Max, so having him next to me will be great,” Hawkins said.
Sophomore Jackson Acker won a sectional title in the discus (180-5) and placed third in the shot put (51-9 3/4).
“That one (discus) was probably the most expected,” Acker said. “It still feels great to win.”
Acker said he has more he can do in shot put.
Senior Jayden Joe-Wright finished third in the 200-meter run (22.47). In the Wildcats’ 4x200 relay, senior Mason Jordan teamed with freshman Javon Presley, Acker and Joe-Wright to take third (1:30.35).
Acker said the 800 relay could have run a faster time with better handoffs,
“We made it, but there is a lot of room for improvement,” he said. “We are all strong runners. It’s just the handoffs that kill us every time.”
The Wildcats’ 4x800 relay team of junior Brad Tuomi, junior Drew Gonzales, senior Ian Grossenbacher-McGlamery and freshman Aidan Manning placed third with a time of 8:14.1.
The Wildcats’ 4x100 relay team was disqualified after sophomore Graham Stier completed a handoff with Joe-Wright outside the exchange zone.
Senior Dylan Bourne finished fourth in the discus (142-6), 18 inches away from qualifying for state. He also took fourth in the shot put (50-6 3/4), 15 inches away from a state berth.
The Wildcats 4x400 relay team of Soko, Gonzales, Presley and Jordan placed fifth, about one second away from qualifying for state.
Middleton won the sectional championship over Verona 96-80.