Middle Border Conference girls stand out in state track meet

Wow, finally a few seconds to gather my thoughts after the state track meet and the sectional baseball tournament.
The state track meet is like sports nirvana, but there is so much activity that also borders on sports sensory overload. Everywhere you turn, there are elite athletes performing, and every one of them is a story.
Several of the stories that rang out loudest to me were performances by athletes from Middle Border Conference girls teams. One of the favorite stories is Ellsworth senior Abbey Ristow. She suffered a knee injury during the basketball season. Ristow placed second at state in the discus throw last year, but the injury made it appear that she’d be lucky to compete at all the season. Give her credit for some amazing self-motivation. She got a late start to the season, but by the conference meet she was throwing around 120 feet. She threw well enough in the regional and sectional meets to get back to state.
She saved her best for last. Ristow was in second place behind the defending state champion when Ristow took her final attempt. She launched the discus 129 feet, 4 inches, the best throw of her career, which lifted her to first place in the event.
Another MBC senior who gave an amazing performance in the state meet was New Richmond sprinter Kat Keller. Competing in Division 1, Keller was racing against the fastest sprinters in the state. This is nothing new for her, she’s earned three state medals in the sprints during the past two years. Keller showed again why she was recruited to run at the University of Minnesota this year. She took second place in the 100 meters, then third place in the 400 meters and fourth place in the 200 meters.
Keller took on an extra challenge this year by starting to compete in the 400 meters. There is a high percentage of sprinters who never make that step. The 400 is out of their comfort zone, too grueling for many sprinters to try. Keller not only took it on, she conquered it.
Keller wasn’t the only MBC sprinter to make big news. Osceola’s Aimee Rice-Strand took second place in the Division 2 100 and 200 meter dashes. Her crowning achievement was leading the Chieftain 400 meter relay team to a state championship and a state record time.
Somerset’s Natalie Broome may have received as little recognition as any three-event sprinter who qualified for state. Running in the same conference as Keller and Rice-Strand caused her case of anonymity, but at state she proved she was an elite level sprinter in her own right. She placed fifth in the 200 meters at state, but her best performance may have been running the anchor leg in the Spartans’ 400 meter relay, where she pulled the team up to fourth place by the team she reached the finish line.
One of the most entertaining events at state was the boys Division 1 110 high hurdles and the main entertainment came from Wisconsin Rapids senior Vince Biegel. Biegel is a huge specimen who looks like he should be wearing a cape and leaping tall buildings. In the hurdles Biegel didn’t seem real concerned about leaping over the hurdles. He pretty much charged through every hurdle, but he still was good enough to take second place in the state finals.
Any sports fan who has never attended a state track meet should put a trip to La Crosse for this event on their bucket list. It is a spectacle that is unmatched in excitement and pure athletic ability on display.