W-M Track team reflects on strong season

By Matt Bunke, Community Editor

The Watertown-Mayer track and field teams recently wrapped up a successful season in which four school records were broken, all-conference honors were won in five different events, and 10 athletes competed at the state meet – where the girls’ team finished in second place overall and won state titles in two events.

The second-place finish at the state meet was the capper on an outstanding year for the track team, especially since the girls came just one point from tying for the state title despite having only five athletes competing in four events. The girls’ 4×800 relay team shattered its own school record at the state meet when Marissa Janning, Katie Heilman, Liz Miller and Hannah Johnson combined to finish in 9:31.06, winning the state title by nearly 10 seconds. Janning was also the state champ in the 300-meter hurdles, also breaking her own school record in that event at the state meet with a time of 45.39 seconds.

Caitlin Duske also had a strong state meet, finishing third in the triple jump. Earlier in the year, she also broke Kim Lueck’s 2-year-old school record with a distance of 36-feet-2.75 inches, breaking the old record by 10.5 inches. Also reaching the podium at the state meet was Heilman, who finished fourth in the 400 meters with a personal best time of 58.72 seconds.

The Royals also had a number of boys’ compete at the state meet, where Nick Hix, Dan Raiter, Matt Scanlon and Drew Walstrom finished 12th in the 4×200 relay after winning the section championship in that event and setting the school record in the event with a time of 1:34.79 during the season. Hunter Hulley also finished 18th in the state in the high jump.

The Royals also won all-conference honors in five events, including Walstrom in the 100 meters, Janning in the 300 hurdles, Duske in the triple jump, Heilman in the long jump, and the 4×800 girls’ relay of Johnson, Lydia Fails, Janning and Heilman. Dan Raiter and Kate Theisen also earned honorable mention all-conference honors.

Forty-one Royals won varsity letters this season, including a group of 11 seniors. The seniors for the Royals this season were Janning, Walstrom, Salomey Dankwah, Brianna Hausladen, Elena Hausladen, Pennapa Johnson, Abigail Martin, Raimundo Penafiel, Katie Rains, Bjorn Viking Safsten and Miriam Soltau.

The team also handed out numerous awards at a postseason banquet. Walstrom, Ethan Thonn and Hannah Johnson were named the hardest workers. Raiter and Brianna Hausladen were named the Carrier’s of the Royal Baton, Mike Burns was the Freshman of the Year, Jesse Bushman and Heilman were the Rookies of the Year, Raiter and Duske were named the Most Improved, Shawn Wasser was the VIP, Walstrom Martin and Johnson won the Leadership Awards, Hulley and Duske were the top jumpers, Thonn and Theisen won for weights, Janning and Josh Oak were the top hurdlers, Walstrom and Rains were the top sprinters and Casey Fails and Johnson were the top distance runners.