Simonson expected to lead girls
By Greg Seubert
Waupaca girls’ track coach Joel Kempfert didn’t have to think too hard when asked about the leaders on this year’s team.
Two-time state qualifier Avrey Simonson is back and Kempfert expects the junior, fresh off of a successful Waupaca Area girls’ hockey season, to carry the load.
Simonson, who competed at last year’s WIAA State Track & Field Championships in the Division 2 triple jump and on the Comets’ 1,600-meter relay team, is one of four captains on the girls’ squad, along with senior Erin Montgomery and juniors Kristin Petkovsek and Mya Snyder.
“She’s run everything from the 800 on down,” Kempfert said. “She’s a great athlete and just a fun kid.”
Simonson also joined Snyder, Petkovsek and Michelle Petkovsek on the 3,200-meter relay team that set a new school record last year.
Kempfert has 25 girls on his roster, including seniors Montgomery, Lexi Tripp and Ellen Trombla; juniors Simonson, Petkovsek, Snyder, Marissa Benavidez, Alyssa Schroeder and Kelsey Weir; sophomores Hannah Baumgart, Britney Bertzyk, Chloe Buster, Rebecka Graham, Zoe Harrison, Karina Lisogor, Janissa Nickel, Justine Panzenhagen, Tirzah Piencikowski, Kali Revai, Laura Saunders and Gabrielle Wennesberg; and freshmen Isabella Elandt, Anna Kilcoyne, Halle Richter and Sarah Shambeau.
The girls have to replace four-year state qualifier Tatiana Sotka and Michelle Petkovsek, who set four school records.
Boys’ coach Neil Sternweis also has to replace a 2016 state qualifier in Christian Overman, who placed third and 10th in the 110- and 300-meter hurdles, respectively, in La Crosse.
The boys’ roster includes seniors Brandon Anderson, Seth Boldt, Ryan Johnson, Gert Kruger, Dylan Minton, Blake Orr, Ryan Phillipsen, Derrick Rotta, Dylan Shaw, Hunter Smith, Spencer Sondrol, Justin Bertzyk and Michael Heger; juniors Dayton Bell, Jared Doro, Danny Esch, Austin Handrich, Mark Kilcoyne, Quinn Nimmer, Andy Schroeder, Bruce Sternweis, Luis Barraza, Bryce Cramer, Zion Stewart and Sean Matthews; sophomores Gene Bertram, Sam Christie, Alex Dremel, Brad Moloney, Colby Nimmer, Alex Orr, Caleb Studzinski, Forrest Ziebell, Trey Noltner, David Pacheco-Rojas, Cody Rasmussen, Gunner Tripp and Mitchell Trzebiatowski; and freshmen Connor Bailey, Abram Jackson, Riley McKibben, Ben Pacheco-Rojas, Dillan Russell, Terry Schmidt, Sawyer Sopa, Collin Studzinski, Zayne Vasquez and Owen Vassar.
The boys will open the season Thursday, March 16, at the Oshkosh Invitational at the University of Wisconsin-Oshkosh, while the girls headed to UW-Stevens Point Friday, March 17, for the Stevens Point Invitational.
“I treat these (indoor meets) more as practice and to give the girls new to track or high school track some experience,” Kempfert said. “They get to see some good competition.”
After the two teams compete at five indoor meets between them, the Comets are scheduled to open the outdoor season Thursday, March 30, at the Wautoma Relays before hosting a quadrangular meet Monday, April 3.
Both teams held their first practice March 6.
“I thought it was a really good first week of practice,” Kempfert said. “They’re anxious to try new stuff.”
The Comets compete in the North Eastern Conference, which also includes Clintonville, Denmark, Fox Valley Lutheran, Freedom, Little Chute, Luxemburg-Casco, Marinette, Oconto Falls and Wrightstown.
Kempfert called the conference one of the best Division 2 leagues in the state for girls’ track.
“It’s a good, solid conference,” he said. “We’ll probably finish in the middle of the pack, where we finished last year. It’s going to be a tight bunch in the middle and near the top.”
Facing programs like Freedom, Oconto Falls, Fox Valley Lutheran and Little Chute during the season will only help the Comets down the road, according to Kempfert.
“It’s like any other sport,” he said. “The better the competition, the better you’re going to get.”
Waupaca 2017 Track Schedule
Thursday, March 16 – at Oshkosh Invitational, UW-Oshkosh (indoor meet), 4 p.m. (boys only)
Friday, March 17 – at Stevens Point Invitational, UW-Stevens Point (indoor meet), 4 p.m. (girls only)
Saturday, March 18 – at Stevens Point Invitational, UW-Stevens Point (indoor meet), 10 a.m. (boys only)
Thursday, March 23 – at Merrill Invitational (indoor meet), 4 p.m.
Monday, March 27 – at Oshkosh Invitational, UW-Oshkosh (indoor meet), 5 p.m. (girls only)
Thursday, March 30 – at Wautoma Relays, 4 p.m.
Monday, April 3 – Waupaca quadrangular, 4 p.m.
Thursday, April 6 – at Wausau West Invitational, Wausau (indoor meet), 4:15 p.m. (girls only)
Saturday, April 8 – at Little Chute Invitational, 10 a.m.
Tuesday, April 11 – at Clintonville triangular, 4 p.m.
Tuesday, April 18 – at Fox Valley Lutheran triangular, Appleton, 4 p.m.
Saturday, April 22 – at Waupaca County Meet, New London, 9:30 a.m.
Tuesday, April 25 – at Freedom triangular, 4 p.m.
Friday, April 28 – at Kimberly Invitational, 4:15 p.m.
Tuesday, May 2 – Waupaca quadrangular, 4 p.m.
Thursday, May 4 – Vic-Tree Invitational, 4 p.m.
Saturday, May 13 – North Eastern Conference meet, 10 a.m.
Tuesday, May 16 – North Eastern Conference JV meet, Luxemburg, 4 p.m.