Clinton’s Popanz aims for return to podium
The Clinton High School star sprinter just missed a return trip last season after a seventh-place finish in the 100. The top six medal at state.
Now a senior, Popanz plans on making it back to the podium this year and bringing her younger sister, Katie, along with her.
Clinton’s 800 relay team of Katie Popanz, Karen Vidal, Laura Popanz and Brianna Hart is seeded first at state in Division 2 with a qualifying time of 1:45.40. Laura Popanz has the second-fastest qualifying time in the 100 and is seeded fourth in the 200. Katie Popanz is seeded 13th in the 200.
Laura Popanz, an Augustana College (S.D.) recruit, has battled shin splints for much of the season but is close to 100 percent heading into this weekend’s state meet at La Crosse. She has lost only once this season in the 100 and 200, that coming at the sectional meet to Whitefish Bay Dominican’s Deysha Smith-Jenkins, the top seed in both events. Madison Edgewood’s Eileen Gehring is the defending state champion in the 100 and 200.
“I think running at state the last two years has prepared me for what to expect,” Laura Popanz said. “Getting back up on the podium is the most important thing, and if I could finish second, that would make me very happy.”
Laura Popanz said the Cougars’ top-seed in the 800 relay is somewhat of a surprise. The team has run together in only two meets—regional and sectional.
“I don’t think any of us were expecting to be that good,” Laura said of the state’s top seed at 1:45.40. “But our hand-offs have been good, and it has turned out to be a very good team.”
The Clinton boys will be represented by thrower Kevin Klitzman. The senior was fifth in shot put last year and is seeded second (56-1.25) this year behind University of Wisconsin football recruit and Pewaukee senior Derek Watt (57-5).
Klitzman also will compete in the discus, where he is seeded sixth.
Whitewater’s boys team, the defending Division 2 state champion, will be led by the second-seeded 1,600 relay team of Dawson Miller, Nick Romani, Clark Zinzow and Bryan Edwards. Miller, a senior, also qualified in the 800 and 1,600.
The Whippet girls feature two potential state champions in pole vaulter Kim Stonewerth and Molly Griep. Stonewerth is the top seed in Division 2 at 11 feet and has cleared a school-record 11-8 this season.
Griep is the defending state champion in discus, while Brodhead/Juda’s Heather Clankie is the top seed with a qualifying throw of 128-9. Walworth Big Foot’s Alyssa Lueck is seeded second in the Division 2 shot put with a throw of 42-1.50, while Griep is seeded eighth at 38-1.
Big Foot’s Kenneth Walker won a sectional title in the 300 intermediate hurdles and is seeded sixth at state with a qualifying time of 40.53.
In Division 2 boys pole vault, Monroe’s Jeff Hill is the top seed at 13-9, while Edgerton’s Brent Samuelsen is seeded fifth at 13-6.
Monroe around-round senior sports standout, Michael Barrett, is tied for the third-best qualifying effort in the Division 2 high jump at 6-6. Rice Lake junior Wally Ellenson is the leader at 6-11, and Orfordville Parkview sophomore Ben Davisson, the Rock Valley Conference champion, goes in at 6-2.
In Division 1 boys, Fort Atkinson’s Brian Beaudo has the second-fastest qualifying time in the 400 at 49.78.