Dennis sizzles for Whitewater
Maybe he should have been.
After all, he was going up against one of the meet’s top performers of the day in senior Jared Abbrederis of Wautoma/Faith Christian, who dazzled Walworth Big Foot in the Division 4 state football championship game last fall.
Abbrederis, who is a preferred walk-on for track and field at the University of Wisconsin, set state records in winning the Division 2 110 high hurdles (14.35) and 300 intermediate hurdles (37.91).
A two-time state champion in the 110 hurdles, Abbrederis erased a 28-year-old state record of 14.48 that was set by Oconto’s Tony Dollinger in 1981 in the event.
But Dennis ruined Abbrederis’ hopes of a triple title day when the Whippets’ star sprinter roared out of the blocks and finished in 22.55 seconds to claim his first title. Abbrederis was second in 22.66.
“I was surprised yesterday when he beat me,” said Dennis, who was second to Abbrederis in their preliminary heat on Friday, but was the second seed in the event entering Saturday’s finals.
“You know you have to be confident. If you go in worrying about what other people will do, you can’t do it. You have to be strong.”
Dennis also ran on the Whippets’ 800 relay that finished 11th on Friday and fell short of the finals. He anchored the 1,600 relay that placed seventh on Saturday and included Tony Floyd, Michael Mitchell and Tony Bilderback.
Floyd also placed fifth in the 110 hurdles finals, and Bilderback was third in the triple jump.
“I didn’t do too well at the beginning of the year. But I kept working, and at the end I was getting personal bests,” Dennis said. “I was feeling good in the 200, and I got beat. But I didn’t let it get to me. I said I’m just going to work hard and be ready to win.”
Milton senior Ethan Bachinski agreed that the setting was more suited for football season than a state track meet. But the Western Illinois football recruit has a positive memory of his last high school track meet.
On a day where 15 of the 24 competitors in the Division 1 boys discus did not get a throw in play—including top-seeded Damonte Reed of Monona Grove—Bachinski made it to the medal stand with a fourth-place finish at 142 feet, 9 inches..
“I scratched, too. You couldn’t really spin too well, so I just did power position and got into fourth place,” said Bachinski, whose best throw of the day came on his first attempt in the prelims.
“I just took a power position throw and gave it all I’ve got. I just wanted to get one in and it was enough to place.”
Bachinski said anything fancy on the rainy day was doomed to failure.
“I’m glad I was able to finish on the podium,” he said. “It was pretty neat being up there. It was cool. I was nervous and I’m freezing. It’s football weather. It’s beautiful. I wish I had the pads on today.”
In area girls competition, the East Troy duo of juniors Tia Nowak and Jasmine Haines had a successful state meet. Nowak was seventh in the 400, and Haines was second in the 200. They also both helped the 800 and 1,600 relays finish third.
“We did pretty well considering the circumstances. I had a little injury, but we overcame it and had an amazing race in the 1,600 and finished third,” Nowak said.
“I hurt my back. I don’t know what’s wrong with it yet. It’s been going on for awhile. But I made it.
“I didn’t want to miss out on this race. I love it too much (1,600). I pulled through for them. I didn’t want to give up. My teammates were depending on me.”
Haines was pleased with her finish as well but admitted she is already looking forward to next year’s state meet.
“I was second in the 200. I could have come out a little harder,” she said. “But I did my best.’’
n Edgerton senior Shea Sweeney made her second trip to state in the girls Division 2 pole vault pay off in a fourth-place finish at 10 feet.
n Crimson Tide senior Peter Zepke went 50 feet, 4 inches for seventh place in the boys Division 2 shot put.
n Clinton sophomore Laura Popanz ran a 12.79 in the finals of the Division 2 girls 100-meter dash to finish sixth.
n East Troy junior Cody Zaeske finished third with a 51.05 time in the boys Division 2 400.
n Monroe senior Brett DeNure was the Division 2 boys runner up in the 800 at 1:55.24.