Special from the Challenger
While the track and field season came to an end for many across Wisconsin this past Thursday, five runners at St. Joseph Catholic Academy will continue their season in competition at the WIAA state track meet in La Crosse, Wis., this weekend (June 1st and 2nd).
On a hot and sunny day, the runners took to the track with one goal in mind: advance to state. Starting off the evening, the boys 4x800 meter relay achieved that goal. Seeded third in the relay entering the race, the team was able to finish with a season-best time of 8:17.8, good for 2nd place.
Three of the four legs on the relay set personal bests. Leading off was senior Cam Mills, who set the pace with a 2:06. Following him was senior Joey Ilada, who ran a three-second personal best with a 2:03. Up next for the Lancers was junior Luke Nuzzo who also set a personal best, running a time of 2:08. Nuzzo set the team up with a 3rd place spot. Ben Scopp, who ran a personal best with a time of 2:00, was able to claim second place after a late-race surge.
Looking at the relay team from the outside three weeks ago, it looked as if their goal of reaching state would not be achieved. Scopp missed the entire indoor season with a shin injury, Ilada missed the first seven weeks of the season with a quad injury, and Mills missed two weeks in the middle of the season with a hamstring issue. The team did not run together in a meet until last week at the regional track meet. But that did not deter them from running their hearts out.
“Throughout the season we knew what we were capable of if we were healthy, so the issue was really just getting healthy. And eventually we did that,” said Luke Nuzzo. “Now we get another chance to run on the highest stage and show our speed.”
Last year, Lili Jaraczewski, a sophomore at the time, competed at the state meet. At the sectional meet, she was able to run to a victory in the 3200 meter race, running a time of 12:01.35. State did not go as planned, though. With temperatures nearly hitting 100 degrees, and Lily starting off the race faster than she typically did, she struggled throughout the second half of the race. But as a sophomore, that is expected. Lily does not worry about the result of the race and instead uses it as a learning experience.
“Last year, the state meet was fun, but fairly overwhelming! This year, I know what kind of runner I am and I know how to run my race. I’m going in with a plan this time,” she said.
The road to the state meet this year was significantly harder than last year, but that was not a problem for Lili. Again competing in the 3200 meter race, she faced very tough competition in the regional meet. Jaraczewski was pushed to a new level, with two of the top five seeded runners in the state in her race. She ran a personal best of 11:56.93, which was good for third place. At the sectional meet, Lili set another personal best, running a time of 11:48.93, and again finishing in 3rd place, only behind the two top-ranked girls. She will run at the state meet and is ranked 9th in her event, and is ecstatic. She said that “I feel so grateful that I get to return to the state meet this year...and I’m excited to have my friends and family there to support me!”
For the second straight season, Scopp will be running the 3200 meter race at the state track meet. Last year, he finished in 9th place with a time of 10:05.60. This year, he has set the bar high. “I think it would be great to finish in the top six, which would get me onto the podium.” Though Ben knows it will be a difficult task, he will not be deterred from trying to reach it. “It’s the state meet, anything can happen. I’m going to leave it all out there.”
At the sectional meet, Scopp ran to a personal best time of 10:02:88, which gave him a second place finish.
When does everyone run?
Lili will run the 3200 meter race Friday evening
The boys 4x800 relay team will race Saturday morning
Scopp will run the 3200 meter race Saturday afternoon
To watch the races live, follow the link below: