The DeForest girls and boys track teams had a historic showing at last Saturday’s WIAA Division 1 state meet on the UW-La Crosse campus.
Both Norski squads had the most state competitors they have ever had and came away with just the second individual state title in program history.
Thanks to a state title from Anna Szepieniec, the DeForest girls placed 12th overall with 20 team points.
“It was crazy weather with heavy rain all day and conditions had a direct effect on performance numbers,” DeForest girls coach Chris Smith said. “We had very few season-bests throughout all competitors. I’m proud of how we competed. It was tough to see our seniors finish their careers.”
D.C. Everest garnered the girls title with 46 points, followed in the top five by Muskego (46), Kaukauna (35), Onalaska (33) and Waunakee (32).
The Norski boys failed to score a team point.
“The guys had a solid meet in some really challenging conditions,” DeForest boys coach Joe Parker said. “When the rain did not pour, it still created a wet mess. Overall, we had a great day and for the Juniors that competed, can look to improve from the experience going into next year.”
Arrowhead easily won the boys title with 66 team points, followed in the top five by Oshkosh West (38), Kimberly (30), Slinger (28) and Verona (28).
Szepieniec had a very memorable debut at the state meet. She became the first DeForest girl to win a state title. She is just the second Norski track athlete to ever win a crown, the first since Drew Simmons won the 400 in 2008.
Szepieniec took top honors in the 300 hurdles with her time of 45.61 seconds. She nearly won another crown in the triple jump, where her distance of 37-feet, 4-inches put her in second place.
Szepieniec added a seventh-place finish in the 100 hurdles (:15.43).
“For her to score in three events equals or is a school-best,” Smith said.
The Norskies’ Stacy Kipkoskei also competed in the 300 hurdles. She came in 20th place (:49.15).
Carleen Snow had a great showing in the pole vault for DeForest. Her height of 10-6 put her in 11th place.
The Norski girls had a representative in both of the throwing events on Saturday. Miranda Manghera came in 12th in the discus (94-8), while Morgan Hahn was 22nd in the shot put (29-5.5).
The DeForest girls also competed in a pair of relays.
Jocelyn Pickhardt, Snow, Szepieniec and Logan Peters teamed up to placed 15th in the 1,600 relay. Muskego’s foursome of Nicole Doerr, Rachel Helm, Grace Lundie, Angelica Refinski won the event (4:01.89).
The Norskies’ Ashley Durnen, Alexys Scheuerell, Kipkoskei and Pickhardt came away with 22nd place in the 800 relay (1:51.64). Muskego’s Nicole Doerr, Megan Reedy, Lundie and Refinski claimed the crown (1:44.59).
Caleb Ekezie had the highest finish for the DeForest boys. He garnered 15th place in the 400 (:52.63).
The Norskies’ Deven Magli sprinted his way to 17th place in the 100 (:11.41).
Ferris Wolf came away with 18th place in the 110 hurdles (:16.59).
“Deven and Ferris both put together competitive races in tough conditions to be a sprinter,” Parker said.
Jackson Grabowski was the only other Norski to compete in an individual event. He worked his way to 20th place in the 800 (2:01.67).
“Caleb and Jackson both came back in the 400 and 800, respectively with performances that they both will hope to improve on in future state opportunities.”
Like the girls team, the DeForest boys hit the track in a pair of relays.
Isaiah Bauer, Ekezie, Korbin Eisler and Grabowski joined forces to place 16th in the 3,200 relay (8:17.67).
“Isaiah ran a lifetime-best in the 4x800 and put us in a good position in the race,” Parker said. “Caleb, Korbin and Jackson ran consistent times but not the lifetime-bests that it would have taken to keep us in contention of a scoring position.”
Oliver Vandehey, Bryce Jacobsen, Grabowski and Ekezie rounded out the day for DeForest with an 18th-place finish in the 1,600 relay (3:32.18).
“Oliver ran a lifetime-best split in the 4x400,” Parker said. “Bryce executed the race plan we talked about but lost ground on the front pack. The third event of the day on both Jackson and Caleb wore on their legs.”
With their appearance on Saturday, Wolf, Magli and Vandehey became the first Norski athletes to compete at state in three different sports during their respective careers.
“A special shout out to the three guys who competed in their third sport at the state level,” Parker said. “Ferris, Deven and Oliver all have accomplished a great feat to have qualified and represented DeForest at the highest level in WIAA competition is something they should all be very proud of.”