Janesville's Meister maps route to success
The Janesville Craig High School junior meticulously maps out every race he runs.
That strategy will be put to the test at this weekend’s WIAA Division 1 state track and field meet in La Crosse. Meister hopes the pre-race planning can lead to a state title.
Meister is seeded second in the 800 and eighth in the 1,600, and will anchor Craig’s 3,200 relay team. He finished sixth in the 1,600 a year ago.
“I strive for perfection, even though I know it’s not attainable,” Meister said. “You’ve got to go up there and give it everything because that’s really what it’s going to come down to.
“If I can finish a race and say I gave it everything I could, then I can be happy with it. But if I feel like I have something left at the end or didn’t run a smart race, then I can’t be happy with it.”
Meister’s junior year has made him more than happy. He finished second last fall in Division 1 at the state cross country meet and has been nearly unbeatable on the track this spring. His time of 1:55.43 in the 800 is the third-fastest in the state this season, and less than a second behind Nicolet’s Jeffrey Pigg, who ran a 1:54.79 at the Division 1 regional at Grafton.
Meister won the 800 and 1,600 at the Big Eight Conference meet, but he left a little in the tank in both races. That won’t be the case at state, coach Jeff Deininger said.
“Has Tommy run an all out 1,600 yet? No, not yet,” said Deininger, trying to keep a straight face. “The time to do it is at state, and that’s Tommy’s plan.
“You know when you work with Tommy, he has a game plan for everything,” Deininger said. “He is a smart enough runner to know when to go hard and when he can pull back. For the most part, he has pulled back in the 1,600 because the only important thing is qualifying for state.”
Meister will make eight trips around the track at the state meet and plans to make each one count. It starts with the 3,200 relay on Friday.
Meister, Evan Lalor, Joe Sarow and Spencer Hrycay hope to break the school record of 8:01 and earn a spot on the podium as one of the top six finishers. The team qualified by winning the Badger Sectional with a time of 8:04.98.
The 1,600 and 800 follow for Meister on Saturday. His best time in the 1,600 is 4:17 at the Big Eight meet, which was one second off the conference record. That was also the night Meister tried to pull off a rare Triple Crown by winning the 800, 1,600 and 3,200. He finished second in the 3,200.
Caleb Abfall of Bay Port is the top seed at state in the 1,600 with a qualifying time of 4:21.68.
“The 800 is basically a sprint,” Meister said. “You have to be near the front right away. The 1,600 is more of a technical race, and I’m not sure yet how to approach. My dad, coach ‘D’ and I will sit down and talk about the race at some point this week.
“Last year, the (1,600) race spread out pretty quickly. I don’t think that will be the case this year. There are quite a few guys that are capable of winning.”
Mr. Game Plan hopes his pre-race strategy puts him at the top of that list.