Whippets off and running at La Crosse
The senior sprinter, who will compete at UW-Eau Claire next season, qualified in three events for today’s finals at the WIAA Division 2 state meet at Veterans Memorial Stadium.
Dennis-Oehling, who is the defending state champion in the 200-meter dash, will run on the 1,600 relay, which will be seeded second. He is also seeded third in the 100 and fourth in the 200.
“I have some more in the tank for tomorrow. The first race is always kind of nervous,” Dennis-Oehling said after the Whippets wrapped up the meet’s opening day tied with Madison Edgewood for first place in the team standings with 18 points.
“After that, it gets better. Tomorrow, I can do better in the 100s and defend my state title in the 200.”
After entering the meet rather anonymously a year ago, Dennis-Oehling, like his teammates, hasn’t surprised anyone this season. In fact, expectations of a state title began the first day of practice.
“It’s a bit more difficult this year because I’ve had a target on my back,” Dennis-Oehling said. “Last year was nice because I came in as a dark horse. I could get through without people worrying about me.
“This year, people know who I am. They know who we are and it’s more difficult. But if we do what our coaches tell us to do, we’ll be alright.”
Based on the teams qualifying seeds, the Whippets were projected to score 63 team points. Last year, Wautoma/Faith Christian Academy needed only 35 points to win the Division 2 boys title.
The Whitewater boys got off to a good start behind senior Loussaint Minett, who won the discus title (169 feet, 5 inches) and senior Tony Bilderback, who finished second in the triple jump (44-7 ).
Minett is a potential medalist in the shot put today, where he is seeded third at 55 feet.
Whippet senior Tony Floyd remains a threat to place in both hurdle events, registering the fourth-fastest time in the 110 high hurdles (15.06) and sixth-fastest time in the 300 intermediate hurdles (40.12).
The Whippets’ 1,600 relay team also advanced, but their 800 relay was 12th and missed advancing by 51/100ths of a second.
“Our goal is to do our best and anything that comes with that is an added bonus,” Dennis-Oehling said. “We worked really hard this year. So, hopefully it will all pay off.”
Molly Griep, though, got a jump on her male counterparts when the Whitewater sophomore was the first Whippet to medal after finishing second in the shot put with a throw of 41-11. Walworth Big Foot’s Alyssa Lueck was sixth at 39-2.
Osceola’s Paige Garriga won the event with a throw of 42-2.
“I was really rooting for first place. But (Garriga) had a great throw,” said Griep, who will compete in the discus today.
“Being a sophomore and being here last year, I improved so much that I was happy with my second-place finish. I wanted to get more aggressive and it was a good feeling today.”
Elkhorn senior Dan Sullivan finished fourth in the 1,600 in Division 1 with a time of 4:14.44. The Elks’ Skyler O’Laughlin also picked up a medal by finishing fifth in the high jump. The senior cleared 6-4, with Waunakee’s Ross Maly winning with a jump of 6-6.
Orfordville Parkview’s Tailor Hartman qualified for today’s final in the Division 2 200 meter race, East Troy’s Cory Zaeske qualified third in the Division 2 400.
Clinton’s Laura Popanz had the fifth-fastest qualifying time in the 100 in Division 2, and East Troy’s Jasmine Haines qualified for today’s finals in the 400.
Lakeside Lutheran’s Ellen Schwartz, a Janesville resident, is the eighth seed in today’s 300 low hurdles and was on the Warriors’ fifth-place 3,200 relay team.
The Lake Geneva Badger boys 400 relay team is the top seed in today’s race.