Denmark earns five firsts at regional, qualifies 14 for section

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Denmark's Mickalyn Babcock competes in the long jump on May 20 at the D2 Regional at Wrightstown High School. Babcock finished second in the 300-meter hurdles to qualify for sectionals on May 23. Photo by Denis Lotto

By KELLY FENTON

The Denmark News

DENMARK – Given her dominance over the past couple of years, Leah Kralovetz’s primary competition has been Leah Kralovetz.

As in, can Leah Kralovetz beat Leah Kralovetz’s previous best (personal, school, meet) mark?

Mostly, she’s been winning those battles. Other times, such as last week when the University of Iowa signee broke the North Eastern Conference records in the 1,600 and 3,200 – broke her own records, mind you — while failing to record a new personal best, it’s a draw.

On Monday at Wrightstown, Kralovetz cruised to two more easy wins and set a personal mark in the 1,600 at 5 minutes, 0.48 seconds, winning by 13. She won the 3,200 by 28 seconds in a time of 10:38.12.

Kralovetz was one of four Vikings winners on Monday and one of 14 Viking qualifiers for sectionals on Thursday at Freedom.

Seth Alexander not only won the long jump by 10 inches with 21 feet, 1.25 inches, he shattered the Denmark school record in the triple jump by going 41-08.50, breaking Ryan Gronke’s 41-04.5 in 1994. Despite that he came up 1.25 inches short of a regional title to Sturgeon Bay’s Nathaniel Greenlaw.

“We were uncertain about the competition coming in, but Seth rose to the challenge and stayed really focused,” said head coach Tom Neuman of Alexander’s runner-up in the triple. “He was a little disappointed that he didn’t win it as close as he was. He scratched on one that was close to 42 feet.”

Other Denmark winners at Wrightstown were Jackson Koenig, who busted his previous shot put best by nearly a foot with a heave of 49-07.50; and Connor Sisel, who edged out sophomore teammate Lucas Soquet to win the 3,200 in a time of 10:24.02. Soquet, who has been in a healthy competition with Sisel the past two seasons, was just four seconds off Sisel’s winning pace and finished in 10:28.00.

“It’s very exciting to seem them both get through in the 2-mile,” said Denmark distance coach Terry Wetzel. Neither made it out of regionals last season. “Connor led from the front, but it was a nice, controlled race.”

Four runners finished within 10 seconds of the winning time. The competition becomes fierce for both going forward. Wetzel said there are a lot of good 2-milers at sectional, though the times among the qualifiers are right in line with those posted by his two runners.

“The goal is to finish in the top four and make it to state,” Wetzel said. “They both have the potential to do it and we’re confident about their chances.”

The top six finishers at last year’s sectionals were seniors.

Quick And Explosive

Koenig, Neuman said, has just gotten better each week after working hard on his footwork. Koenig is so strong that he sometimes scratches by coming out of the ring on his toss.

“He just has tremendous explosion,” Neuman said. “(Coach Mallory Anderson) has been doing a great job working with him. I saw him on the football field, a big guy so smooth on his feet and so quick and explosive so I’m not surprised at what he’s doing.”

While Kralovetz’s best event is undeniably the two-mile, Wetzel says she deserves plenty of notice for what she just accomplished in the 1,600.

“She does not give herself enough credit in the mile,” he said. “But young ladies that run a flat 5 (minute)-mile are pretty amazing.”

Her 10:38 in the 3,200 on Monday was just three seconds off her best time on April 30 in a meet featuring some of the top distance runners from around the Midwest.

“She is peaking at the right time,” Wetzel said. “She shouldn’t have any trouble getting out of sectionals. She’s more focused on state. It’s too early to talk about the toughest competition coming up. She’s always focused on just running her absolute best time. There are a lot of strong girls running in D2 right now so we’re just looking for her to lay down her best pace and see if the other girls can keep up.”

Kralovetz won the sectionals in both the 1,600 and 3,200 last season, with all her nearest competitors underclassmen. So she should recognize most of the competition on Thursday.

They will definitely recognize her.

Kralovetz finished second at state in both events in 2018.

Babcock On The Move

Alexander was busy all day, also finishing fourth in the 100 (11.67 seconds) and teaming up with Brandon Wavrunek, Mason Karl and Casey Kropp to finish second in 44.99 in the 4×100, the group’s best time ever as they moved on to sectionals.

“That group is a bit of a surprise,” said Neuman. “They’ve only got two real sprinters in Brandon and Seth, but they’ve been working hard on the handoffs and that’s been keeping them in the race. They’re fifth in the times among the sectional qualifiers so if they can know a little time off, they can get through to state.”

Also qualifying with a fourth-place time of 8:42.40 was the 4×800 relay team of Soquet, Sisel, Riley Brantmeier and Hudson LeBresh.

Mickalyn Babcock was runner-up in the 300-meter hurdles and moves on to sectionals. Babcock’s time of 49.01 was just 8/10 of a second off the winning time. She will be back in the mix with Freedom’s tough duo of Gabby Johnson and Sam Bartels. Johnson blew away the field at the North Eastern Conference Championships two weeks ago. Babcock finished third behind those two, though barely lost to Bartels.

“She has one of the best times right now in the upcoming sectional,” Neuman said. “She’s already seen those two girls from Freedom, so she doesn’t need to get out and run her race. When she’s comfortable and hitting her mark, she’s as good as there is out there.”

Mike Rabas, who is out for his first season in track, is making his mark in the high jump, a highly technical event, Neuman points out. Rabas finished second on Monday to qualify for sectionals, posting a mark of 6-00.

Mason Karl finished third in the discus with 133-09 and will advance, while freshman Haley Schott finished third in the 200 (28.67) to qualify.

“Haley is a bit of a surprise as a freshman,” Neuman said. “For any freshman to compete that well with juniors and seniors takes some mental aptitude. She’s really strong.”

Jonah Harmann, who Neuman said has labored in relative anonymity all season, qualified in the pole vault by finishing fourth with a personal-best mark of 12-00.

The top four in each event will qualify for the state championships on May 31-June 1 in at UW-La Crosse.

 

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