Girls’ track team now has larger roster
By Greg Seubert
Greg Seubert Photo
What a difference a year makes.
Last year at this time, Waupaca girls’ track coach Joel Kempfert was looking at a roster that had only 15 names, including managers and injured athletes.
This year, he has 28 girls to work with, including a trio of returning state qualifiers in seniors Tatiana Sotka and Michelle Petkovsek and sophomore Avrey Simonson.
Sotka, the Eastern Valley Conference’s runner of the year as a junior, is a state qualifier in six individual events and one relay the past three seasons.
“She came in eager to go,” Kempfert said. “I think she’s in her best starting position mentally and physically. She wants to make this her best year and the same with Michelle. They’ve taken it to the next level.”
Sotka placed 12th and 14th in the 100- and 200-meter dashes, respectively, at last year’s WIAA State Track & Field Meet, while Petkovsek placed 12th in the 400-meter dash in her second trip to state and Simonson placed 16th in the 200.
The recent warm spell has given some athletes the opportunity to get outside while preparing for the season that kicks off Thursday, March 17, with the boys heading to the University of Wisconsin-Oshkosh for an indoor meet.
“Our distance runners have been outside,” Kempfert said. “It definitely makes a difference because you’re breathing better air. It’s not the stagnant air in a gym.”
Kempfert said he couldn’t be happier amount the numbers for his squad.
“It’s great,” he said. “We have a good, solid freshman class coming in.”
Other returners for the girls include seniors Azaria Molencupp and Cassie Rasmussen; juniors Erin Montgomery and Lexi Tripp; and sophomores Kristin Petkovsek, Kenzie Schultz, Mya Snyder, Lana Sommer and Kelsey Weir. Newcomers include seniors Ashley Jeske and Amanda Worthey; junior Ellen Trombla; and freshmen Hannah Baumgart, Britney Bertzyk, Chloe Buster, Rebecka Graham, Zoe Harrison, Kalyn Klug, Karina Lisogor, Janissa Nickel, Justine Panzenhagen, Laura Petersen, Kali Revai, Laura Saunders and Gabrielle Wennesberg.
“One of our goals is to always be a family,” Kempfert. “A couple of them have gone to college track meets already. Even though track’s not a team sport, they make it a team sport.”
The girls will open their season Friday, March 18, at an indoor invitational at the University of Wisconsin-Stevens Point.
“They’re somewhat like a glorified practice for the upperclassmen,” Kempfert said of the early-season indoor meets. “For them, it’s a measuring stick to see how their work in the offseason has paid off. For the underclassmen, it’s about what events will be best for them. For the freshmen, it’s a whole different ball game than middle school.”
The Comets have a handful of new teams to compete against this year in the new North Eastern Conference, which includes Little Chute, Freedom, Clintonville and Fox Valley Lutheran out of the former Eastern Valley Conference and new teams Oconto Falls, Denmark, Luxemburg-Casco, Marinette and Wrightstown.
“I don’t know how tough it’s going to be, but we’re still going to have that high level of competition,” Kempfert said.
His assistants include Meghan Waller; Chelsea Benitz; and former track athletes Taylor and Macie Davidson and Alicia Masias.
Waupaca 2016 Track Schedule
• Thursday, March 17 – at UW-Oshkosh Invitational, 4 p.m. (indoor meet, boys only)
• Friday, March 18 – at UW-Stevens Point Invitational, 4 p.m. (indoor meet, girls only)
• Saturday, March 18 – at UW-Stevens Point Invitational, 11 a.m. (indoor meet, boys only)
• Monday, March 28 – at UW-Oshkosh Invitational, 5 p.m. (indoor meet, girls only)
• Tuesday, March 29 – at Merrill Invitational, 4 p.m. (boys only)
• Thursday, March 31 – at Wautoma Relays, 4 p.m.
• Thursday, April 7 – at Wautoma Invitational, 4 p.m. (boys only: at Wausau West Invitational, 4:15 p.m. (indoor meet, girls only).
• Saturday, April 9 – at Badger Invitational, UW-Whitewater, 9:30 a.m. (girls only)
• Saturday, April 16 – at Little Chute Invitational, 10 a.m.
• Tuesday, April 19 – vs. Freedom, Wrightstown, 4:15 p.m.
• Saturday, April 23 – Waupaca County Meet, Waupaca, 9:30 a.m.
• Tuesday, April 26 – vs. Weyauwega-Fremont, Little Chute, Oconto Falls, 4:15 p.m.
• Thursday, April 28 – at Kimberly Invitational, 4 p.m.
• Tuesday, May 3 – at Clintonville triangular, 4:15 p.m.
• Thursday, May 5 – Vic-Tree Invitational, Waupaca, 4 p.m.
• Monday, May 9 – Waupaca Relays, 4 p.m.
• Saturday, May 14 – North Eastern Conference Meet, Oconto Falls, 10 a.m.
• Tuesday, May 17 – North Eastern Conference JV Meet, Little Chute, 4 p.m.