Sophomore Graham Stier didn’t know if he would run in the 4x200 relay at the WIAA Division 1 state meet until late in the week.
Stier got the call to run the 800 relay in place of sophomore Jackson Acker who was competing at state in the discus and shot put. He made the most of his opportunity. The Wildcats’ 800 team of seniors Mason Jordan and Jayden Joe-Wright, freshman Javon Presley and Stier finished fifth with a time of 1 minute, 29.21 seconds on Saturday, June 1, at the UW-La Crosse’s Veterans Memorial Stadium.
“We had a good week of practice, and I found out I was going to be running the prelims and there was a chance I would be running the finals,” Stier said. “I just wanted to come out here and get it done for the team. I had to step up, and I thought we did that today.”
The Wildcats entered Saturday’s finals seeded seventh. The performance by the 800 relay team was the third medal at state for the Wildcats, who finished 15th with 16.5 points. Verona also got medals on Friday from Acker in the discus (second) and senior Max Herkert in the pole vault (sixth).
“We all knew we had it in us,” Joe-Wright said of the 800 relay. “We were just saying beat your seed like last year. It’s a real special feeling to go out with a medal.”
The Wildcats were seeded fifth in the 4x400 relay last year and finished fifth.
Presley said Jordan and Joe-Wright are inspirations on and off the track.
“Everyone was focused,” he said. “We came in with a razor-sharp mentality.”
It marked Jordan’s second time at state. He was a state qualifier in the 400 last year.
“There is no greater feeling than this,” Jordan said. “I’m happy I got to compete again.”
Jordan said the team spent the past couple of weeks working on handoffs because the order was changed up several times during the season.”
It appeared early in the high jump competition the Wildcats could add two more medals to their total.
Senior Jatavion Hawkins cleared 6 feet and 6-2 on his first attempt. He made 6-4 on his final try. Herkert enjoyed similar success in the early going clearing 6-0 on his first attempt. He missed his first attempt at 6-2 before clearing it on his second jump.
But Herkert couldn’t match his lifetime-best jump of 6-6 set last week at sectionals and finished eighth. Hawkins also cleared 6-4 to finish ninth based on misses.
Racine Case senior Jay Jay Rankins won the event at 6-7. Three of the medalists in the high jump had at least one miss on the opening height of 6-0.
Another Big Eight Conference athlete earned a top-three finish, with Janesville Craig senior Trevion Moore taking third 6-6.
Joe-Wright took eighth in the 200 (22.21), .09 seconds away from medaling. He qualified for the finals by taking ninth in the prelims.
Acker added a ninth-place finish in the shot put (52-4). It was 2 1/2 inches away from a PR.
State champion repeat
Kimberly repeated as the state champion outdistancing Waukesha North 46-39. Kimberly and Mukwonago had the most events at state (16).
Senior Lily Brings cleared 10-0 to take 16th in the pole vault.