State track, day one: Bowers scores second; Relay seeded first
June 04, 2010 | 09:44 PM
La Crosse -- Is it possible for a student-athlete to be too athletic?
Badger senior Justin Bowers competed in the long jump and 400 relay Friday in the state track meet at the University of Wisconsin-La Crosse. But Bowers' overwhelming ability combined with an unusually extended long jump session threw the standout's routine upside down.
During preliminary warm-ups for the long jump, which lasted around two hours due to impromptu meetings from officials over the eligibility of two competitors, Bowers was warmed up and ready to jump. But the delay of the event caused it to occur simultaneously with the 400 relay, and Bowers was forced to run in the relay (as the anchor) and quickly return to jump.
"It threw me off a little bit," said Bowers of the mix-up. "Especially because there was a mix-up with two guys scratching, and it postponed the start of the long jump. If it would have started earlier, maybe I would've done better. But what happened happened."
Bowers, seeded first with a jump of 23-1, grabbed second in state with a leap of 22-2.75 in the finals. But it was almost for naught. He scratched on his first two jumps by slightly stepping over the marker but recovered for the solid final jump. Bowers' goal was to win state, but second worked just fine.
"I had to switch up my steps, and the adrenaline got to me," he said. "It's only a little scratch, but you could tell they were long jumps (one was nearly 24') so it was a little disappointing. Second place is just fine with me. There was great competition. I was satisfied, but I think I could've done a lot better. Overall, I'm happy."
Mukwonago's Chris Haase won the long jump with a 22-10.25.
Relay team sheds a quarter second
Badger's 400 relay team is making a habit out of breaking records -- particularly its own.
On Friday, Wes Aranda, Connor Kotula, Jarek Kunz and Bowers bested themselves by an impressive .25, placing first in the prelims with a scary-fast time of 42.57. Badger, which hasn't had a sprint relay team at state in 14 years, keeps improving its time, from 43.44 at regionals to 42.82 at sectionals to today's mark that would make even Speedy Gonzalez smile.
Kunz attributes some of the success to the underdog role.
"We keep getting faster every time we run," he said. "We had the adrenaline running with the state meet, and we keep getting more practice time and making better handoffs. We were the team that came out of nowhere, nobody expected Badger to challenge for the 400 relay. I know once Bowers gets the baton, he's not going to let the kid next to him beat him. I felt really good today, and I'm excited to run tomorrow."
The squad sprints for gold tomorrow. Action begins at 10:30 a.m. Saturday, and the 400 relay is the 15th scheduled track event. Kunz will kick off the day in the triple jump, where he is seeded third.
Also, the 3200 relay team of Jordan Skates, Dan Sepe, Corey Nevin and C.J. Morris is the first scheduled track event.
Other Badger and Big Foot results
Boys shot put: Joe Cychner, 47-2.5, didn't qualify for finals
Boys 100 dash: Wes Aranda, 11.66, didn't qualify
Girls 100: Megan Mulligan, 13.73, didn't qualify
Girls 200: Mulligan, 26.41, didn't qualify
Girls 400: Mulligan, 1:02.03, didn't qualify
Girls 3200 relay: Tristan Sproul, Karina Reeves, Aaryn Edge, Courtney Frederick, 9:53.13, didn't qualify
Girls shot put: Alyssa Lueck, sixth, 39-2.25
Boys 110 high hurdles: Kenny Walker, 16.01, didn't qualify