Kietlinski the top track and field athlete after monster spring

Lena/STAA takes team honor
Morgan Rode
Sports Editor

Area high school boys track and field teams and individual athletes enjoyed a productive spring season, with plenty of top finishes along the way.

Bowler’s Emmitt Kietlinski separated himself from other individuals as the season went along and picked up a pair of top-two finishes at the state meet on his way to being named the NEW Media Inc. Boys Athlete of the Year.

“I trained hard to prepare for a great spring,” said Kietlinski. “Being a three-sport athlete certainly helped as well. I put extra time into the weight room, adding a few new exercises for leg strength, and I worked on my core a lot at home. On weekends, I would often get in some extra jumping work at a sand volleyball court in Phlox.”

Kietlinski, who was a part of the Bowler/Gresham co-op, competed in the high jump, triple jump and long jump to start this spring, and was earning top finishes in each event as soon as the season kicked off.

Kietlinski placed first in each event during the Central Wisconsin Conference-Small Division Meet on April 18. By that point in the season, the senior owned some of the top marks in his events, not only in the state, but the entire country.

Despite the buzz starting to build around him, Kietlinski didn’t let it affect him in a negative way by keeping things simple.

“I know it sounds simple, but I focused every day on doing something to get me to jump higher or farther,” said Kietlinski.

The top finishes continued to pile up for the senior, including top finishes in all three events at the CWC-Small Meet on May 12.

When the postseason began, Kietlinski dropped the long jump and powered on while focusing on the high jump and triple jump.

Despite the competition improving, it didn’t stop Kietlinski from winning.

He was the top finisher in both events at the regional meet and then won the sectional high jump title, while placing second in the triple jump.

“In sports I never get nervous during games or meets. I actually tend to do better during big moments,” said Kietlinski. “I certainly enjoyed competing in front of large crowds and I tended to feed off the pressure situations. I would remind myself to just do what I’ve done all year and everything would turn out fine.”

Kietlinski delivered again during the state meet in La Crosse, winning the high jump and placing second in the triple jump.

The senior cleared 6 feet, 6 inches in the high jump. He was leading the triple jump with a leap of 44-9¼ before the final jump of the competition bumped him back to second.

“My goal all season was to be a state champion, so finishing state champion and state runner-up is something I will cherish forever. It was a great way to end my senior year,” said Kietlinski. “Being just the third state champion in Bowler school history is really special.

“In fact, a few hours after I won the high jump, I received a phone call from Tim Hanke, Bowler’s first ever state champion (1987 in the triple jump). He had been watching the live results online from his home in South Carolina, tracked down a way to contact me, and called. His first words were, “Welcome to the club!” His call meant a lot to me.”

Shortly after graduating, Kietlinski made a trip to the University of Oregon to compete in the high jump and triple jump at the Nike Outdoor Nationals.

Kietlinski placed second in the high jump after clearing 6-9, and was 23rd in the triple jump after a top mark of 42-2¼.

Honorable mentions

There was no shortage of talented individuals on track and field teams this spring, with a few getting to state.

Gillett’s Alex Peterson made it to state in three events, placing fourth in the 1,600, fifth in the 3,200 and fifth on the team’s 4x800 relay team.

Pulaski’s Jack Marsh qualified for state in the discus, placing eighth in a loaded field of competitors.

Bonduel’s Ryan Westrich and Karter Schroeder were individual state qualifiers in the shot put and high jump, placing eighth and ninth, respectively in La Crosse.

Lena’s Anthony Seefeldt also made it to state in the shot put, placing seventh.

Team of the Year

The Lena/St. Thomas Aquinas Academy co-op is the top area boys team this spring after winning the Marinette & Oconto Conference and a regional title.

The team scored 163 points to win the conference crown, 25 points better than Coleman.

Lena/STAA won the Suring Regional title after scoring 111 points.