LA CROSSE -- When Monroe sophomore Cade Meyer cleared 6 feet, 8 inches in the boys high jump earlier this season, Lakeside Lutheran junior Collin Schulz realized he had a serious challenger to the crown he wore as the defending Division 2 state champion in that event.
 
Meyer had one miss midway through the state meet, but overcame it by clearing 6-9 to win this year's title at the WIAA State Track and Field Championships on Friday.
 
For his part, Schulz was the cleanest of five competitiors to clear 6-6, the height he crested to win last year's state title. That gave him runner-up honors on tiebreaker criterion.
 
"That is me, signature height," Schulz said.
 
For a portion of this season, Schulz was missing his usual mark and was merely winning meet after meet with a top jump of 6-4. But he didn't panic and got back to vintage form in time for the postseason.
 
"Over the course of the season, you kind of get a little worn down and tired," Schulz said. "At points, your body is fatigued a lot. So it was kind of nice to have this big break this last week and a half to just kind of recuperate and go over things we had to go over.
 
"(Competition like I saw today), it's always good. You've got to be humbled a lot. It wasn't my year. I'm OK with that. I'm just going to come back next year. 
(Meyer) cleared 6-9. I was feeling good and then the 6-7 jumps just didn't feel too good. Always room for improvement."
 
Even last year he won the title, Schulz competed with more peace of mind in his second trip to state.
 
"It felt great," Schulz said. "I felt really confident. Just the experience added a whole lot. A lot less nerves."
 
Lakeside Lutheran brought another respectable number of athletes to state and all of them competed on Friday.
 
Senior Casey Ponyicsanyi qualified for the finals in both the 200 and 400 meter dash events. Ponyicsanyi finish third in the 200 trials in 22.44 seconds and sixth in the 400 trials in 50 seconds flat. He also teamed with seniors Caleb Bilitz and Brevin Jegerlehner and sophomore Tersony Vater to reach today's finals in the 400 meter relay with the eighth best time of 43.63.
 
Lakeside's girls competed in two relay events which did not make the finals. The 800 relay team of junior Annika Bilitz, senior Kaitlyn Shadoski and juniors Lauren Thiele and Janae Jensen finished 11th in 1:47.68 to miss the finals by .18 of a second. The same foursome finished 13th in the 400 relay in 50.85. That time missed the cut by .33 of a second.
 
Other area teams competed in relay events as well.
 
Jefferson's boys had three relays teams in action on Friday.
 
The 3,200 relay team of senior Logan Wegner, senior Ryan Nelson, junior Ian Sande and senior Alex Marin finished eighth in a school record time of 8:07.52. The 800 relay team of freshman Brady Gotto, Wegner, junior Jordan Weisen and sophomore Taylor Phillips made the finals with a fourth place time of 1:30.84 in the trials. The 1,600 relay team of Gotto, Wegner, Marin and Phillips grabbed the tenth and final spot in the finals with a time of 3:27.82.
 
Gotto also narrowly made the finals in the 200 meter dash with a tenth place time of 22.65 in the trials. Phillips did not make the finals in the 300 hurdles after finishing 15th in the prelims in 42.52.
 
Luther Prep competed in two events on Friday.
 
The 1,600 relay team of Ben Cole, sophomore Jonathan Holtz, junior Ben Bode and junior Cole Burow made the finals by finishing ninth in 3:27.70.
 
"We went a little faster at the sectional, about a second faster, so these guys know they can do better but they ran a great race today," Luther Prep track and field coach Steve Vasold said. "Cole edged out the Jefferson guy. They edged us out at the sectional. Cole ran a tough race down the stretch. All of them did well."
 
Senior Ben Hillmer competed in the boys high jump and finished 17th after clearing 5-10.
 
"Hillmer did a nice job all season long," Vasold said. "He didn't get 6 feet until the last couple weeks of the season and then he went 6-2 this year. Being 5-10, going four inches over his height, that's impressive. He had a great career. We are going to miss the seniors.
 
"The 4 by 4 girls was a tough one. They were ranked third in state going into the sectional. It didn't happen, so we miss not having them here, but our 4 by 8 boys had a good shot as well. Good team effort overall." 

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