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Leopards roll to 1A regional crown

By KLINT SPILLER

kspiller@dailynews.net

The La Crosse High School boys' track and field team made winning a Class 1A regional championship look easy Friday at Lewis Field Stadium.

The Leopards cruised to win the team title with 128 points, beating second-place Wheatland-Grinnell by 77.

"(Leopard Coach Jon Webster) put us in events that he thinks we can benefit the team over the individual," said La Crosse junior William Storie, explaining the team's success this year. "He stresses team over individual glory."

La Crosse walked away with eight gold medals and 14 state qualifiers.

Junior Levi Morss led the way for the Leopards. He won the 100-meter dash (10.73), 200-meter dash (21.98), 400-meter dash (52.53) and long jump (22-1).

Junior Kip Keeley won the javelin and triple jump, breaking his personal record by a big margin in both events.

He came into the javelin seeded second behind Wheatland-Grinnell senior Ty Kaiser, who had thrown 184-2 this season, and he fell behind in the triple jump to Golden Plains senior Cole Christensen in the triple jump.

Then he uncorked a throw of 191-5 in the javelin -- a 9-feet, 4-inch improvement from his previous best -- and a leap of 43-10 in the triple jump -- a 2-feet, 6-inch improvement.

He leads 1A in both events heading into state.

"Competition definitely brings out the best of me," Keeley said.

Storie and senior Austin Webs finished first and second in the 300-meter hurdles in 42.70 seconds and 42.81 seconds, and the 1,600-meter relay team got first in 3:35.18.

With such strong performances, Keeley said a state championship is definitely on their minds.

"The last five years we have been in the mix to win a championship, but this year, we've got a good shot again," Keeley said. "We've got to keep our minds focused, but in the end, we all realize it's a big possibility."

Big day for Hays

Northern Valley senior Gunnar Hays won the 3,200-meter run (10:28.49) and 1,600-meter run (4:40.49) and finished third in the 800-meter run (2:05.63).

Battling the wind, Hays said it was a difficult day to hit good times, but he said the goal was just to make it to state in all three.

"Sometimes you don't run as fast as you want," Hays said. "Sometimes you don't beat everybody you want, but getting in the top four is the important thing."

Hays, a two-time 1A state cross country champion, has never won a gold medal at state track, which he said is a big motivational factor.

"It definitely gave me something to push for during cross country and it gives me something to push for now," Hays said. "I'm definitely focused on state from here on out."

Schiltz breaks PR, pole

St. Francis senior Isaac Schiltz beat his personal record of 14-4 Friday at the Class 1A regional in Hays, reaching 14-7 in the pole vault.

On his attempt at 15 feet, Schiltz bent the pole, and it snapped, hitting him in back and stinging his hands from the vibration.

He said it was the first time that's ever happened to him.

"This tailwind really made me overbend the pole," Schiltz said. "Maybe there was a nick in it or something. I overbent it, snapped it and it really hurt."

Nevertheless, Schiltz has the best 1A mark heading into state by more than two feet.

Field events produce top marks

All but one of the field events Friday at FHSU produced the top 1A marks heading into state.

Quinter senior Brian Ochs leads 1A in the discus with a throw 158-5, and Winona-Triplains senior Jerray Nichols has the top mark in the shot put with 48-4.5.

Morss' long jump and Keeley's javelin and triple jump lead 1A, as well as Schiltz in the pole vault.