Meister takes home gold
Or more accurately, the shorter run.
Within a span of a couple of hours, the Janesville Craig High School junior went from being heartbroken by the narrowest of losses in the WIAA Division 1 state 1,600-meter race to being sky-high after winning the 800 state title on a lean at the wire.
Meister won the 800 in 1:52.9, which broke the longest-standing Craig school track and field record. Gary McVicar had held the school 800 record since 1974.
What made the 800 title run so sweet is what occurred both earlier in the day and also last fall.
In October, Meister had come in second to Appleton East’s Dan Schubert in the WIAA Division 1 state cross country meet by a mere 1.2 seconds over the 5,000-meter course.
On Saturday, he entered his first race of the day—the 1,600—with the eighth-fastest qualifying time of 4:23.99. He went out with the pack, and made an early move to take the lead at the 400-meter mark when he felt the pace was too slow.
Meister held the lead into the final 100 meters, when fellow junior Russ Sandvold of Hartland Arrowhead came up and the two hit the wire together.
Sandvold, who had finished four spots behind Meister in sixth at the state cross country meet, won by 2-100ths of a second. Sandvold’s time was 4:12.98, while Meister finished in 4:13, which established a Craig record in that event.
“He had the kick,” Meister said.
That winning kick went directly into Meister’s stomach.
“I was disappointed in myself,” Meister said. “I ran as hard as I could, of course, but in a better situation, I felt I could have won. I was a little down.”
Craig boys coach Jeff Deininger hinted Meister might have been more than a little down.
“Coming in second again in the 1,600, after he runs an incredible race, was hard to deal with," Deininger said.
Meister had more than an hour to collect himself for his second state final race.
“I knew I had one more race,” he said. “I had to focus on the 800.”
The more he thought about it, the more he used the 1,600 as a positive. This time it turned out Meister did the tracking.
“I didn’t have a game plan,” Meister said.
He knew Jeffrey Pigg, a senior from Glendale Nicolet, was the top seed with his sectional time of 1:55.2. Meister, the second seed at 1:56.13, knew he had to stick with Pigg.
“I got right behind him,” Meister said. “My dad (Rick) always tells me whatever happens, don’t give up.”
Meister stuck with the leader until the final 100 meters.
“This time, I was the hunter,” he said.
And this time, he was the winner. Meister finished in 1:52.92, with Pigg 7-100ths of a second behind at 1:52.99.
“It was a race of a lifetime,” Deininger said.
Meister finally has a state gold medal and some redemption.
“I’m still trying to figure out that it actually happened,” Meister said. “It feels great.”
Meister will go into his senior season with the school records in both the 800 and 1,600. No one else has ever held both records.
“He’s just a tremendous young man,” Deininger said. “He’s worked so hard for what he’s got. It was his turn to win.”
Parker senior Austin Lloyd finished fourth in the 110 high hurdles in 14.62 seconds.
“That was his fastest time of the year,” Parker coach Joe Dye said. “That was a big race for him.”
Dye said his only concern going in was that Lloyd isn’t always strong out of the blocks.
“He got off to a good start, and he finished,” Dye said. “He’s always been a good closer, and he really closed today.”
Parker junior Brad Money added a sixth-place finish in the 800, setting a school record by two seconds with his time of 1:54.47.
“It was competitive for fifth and sixth at the end,” Dye said, adding that this was just Money’s second year out for track. “His goal was to break our school record and get on the medal stand, and he accomplished both.”
That gave Janesville two of the top six finishers in the event, with Meister having the victory.
“Two place-winners in the 800 out of the city of Janesville isn’t bad,” Dye said.
Craig’s Cy Badertscher did not qualify for the finals in the triple jump.
Deininger said Saturday did not take away what the senior had accomplished.
“It was just a tremendous season for him,” Deininger said. “He was incredible. It was a great high school career for Cy, and he’s not done yet.”
Badertscher, who leaves with both the school’s long jump and triple jump records, will attend Valparaiso (Ind.) University and participate in track.
Other area Division 1 action:
n Craig junior Kaylyn Funk took ninth in the girls shot put with a distance of 36 feet, 11.75 inches.
n Craig sophomore Maggie Slatter was 10th in the girls 100 with a time of 12.81 seconds.
n Madison East senior Travis Turnquist won the boys 400 in 48.94 seconds. Fort Atkinson senior Brian Beaudo was 10th at 51.26.
n Beloit Memorial senior Josh Wherling took second in the 300 intermediate hurdles in 38.17 seconds. Lake Geneva Badger junior Ed Ruzga was seventh at 39.4.
n Sun Prairie senior Liz Berkholtz won the girls 1,600 in 5:05.18 and the 3,200 in 10:52.76.
n Milton junior Riley Kovars was 10th in the boys triple jump with a distance of 43 feet, 8.5 inches.
n Milton senior Nate Hammon was eighth in boys 100 in 11.21 seconds.
n Delavan-Darien placed seventh in the boys 400 relay with an all-senior team