EagleHerald/Jody Korch
Peshtigo’s Nicole Motkowski clears the bar at 5 feet, 2 inches at the WIAA State Track & Field Meet Friday in La Crosse. She placed fourth.
EagleHerald/Jody Korch
Peshtigo’s Nicole Motkowski clears the bar at 5 feet, 2 inches at the WIAA State Track & Field Meet Friday in La Crosse. She placed fourth.
LA CROSSE, Wis. — A surprise thunderstorm kept the opening day of the WIAA state track & field meet in the starting blocks for more than two hours Friday afternoon before local athletes began their medal quests.

Peshtigo’s Nicole Motkowski turned in the top local finish with her fourth-place medal in the Division 2 high jump. Motkowski tied for fourth with her leap of five feet, two inches. Freshman Brooke Blazei of Martin Luther had the winning jump of 5-5.

“I told her ‘don’t feel bad because for three years you’ve medaled,’” Peshtigo coach Jim Stillman said. “She was just having a little bit of a hard time with her curve when she turned to the bar.”

Marinette freshman Morgan Florek earned a sixth-place medal in the Division 2 shot put with her launch of 39-8 1/2. Andrionna Ellis of Milwaukee Lutheran had the winning throw of 42-4 1/2.

“I was really impressed with Morgan,” Marinette coach Bob Caelwaerts said. “Especially being a freshman, she definitely didn’t let the pressure get to her.”

Junior Megan Wagner of Marinette had an eighth-place throw of 39-2 1/2 in the shot, 5 1/2 inches better than her sectional mark.

“She’s a hard worker in the weightroom,” Caelwaerts said. “She’s obviously a talent.”

A long day of waiting for Division 2 and 3 competition to begin didn’t faze the Marines.

“I think I was more nervous than they were,” Caelwaerts said. “They seemed laid back. I was really proud of them.”

Wagner is a junior, so both Marines have a shot to come back to La Crosse, a year wiser.

“There’s no way to prepare a kid for just the amount of eyes that are going to be on you,” the Marine coach said. “It was impressive that the big stage didn’t affect them that much.”

In the boys’ competition, Adam Slaby of Crivitz cleared 13-0 to earn a fifth-place medal in the pole vault. Slaby was one of six vaulters to reach the 13 foot mark. Devan Gertschen of Marathon won the gold medal with his vault of 14 feet.

Tyler Slaby placed 11th with his 12-6 vault.

Coleman’s C.J. Pillath placed seventh in the Division 3 discus with his throw of 148-4. Junior Tucker Wedig of Belmont won the discus with his throw of 169-5. Pillath will compete in the shot today.

In the Division 3 100-meter dash preliminaries, Ben Fischer of Crivitz advanced to today’s 100-meter dash finals with his sixth-place time of  11.48. Alex Hartwig of Melrose-Mindoro posted the top preliminary time of 11.01.

Fischer, Micah Sessler, Ryan Padgett and Tyler Slaby finished 12th in the 400-meter relay.

Lena’s Roy O’Harrow qualified for today’s 200 dash finals with a 10th-place time of 23.44.

The Suring girls’ 800 relay team of Calley VanBellinger, Blake Seppel, Courtney Stelzer and Az VanBellinger posted a 15th-place time of 1:51.54 and the Eagles’ Brooke Gauthier was 15th in the shot put.

Peshtigo’s 1,600-meter relay team of Jake Romenesko, Colin Hass, Connor Smith and Aaron Bhatoya missed today’s finals with a 13th-place time of 3:28.38.

“I thought they did a nice job,” Stillman said.

In the 800 run, Bhatoya finished 10th with a time of 1:56.50. Bhatoya got boxed in during the first 200 meters, then got caught in traffic again in the final back stretch.

“It was a good season and just another lesson learned,” Stillman said.