Wildcats find aid at all angles

photos by Carolyn Van Houten/The Herald
Jasper’s Madeline Hurst, left, Alex Hurm, and Priscilla Olson chatted while teammate Annie Stout took off for an attempt in the high jump competition Tuesday afternoon at Jerry Brewer Alumni Stadium. Stout, Olson and Hurm nabbed the top three leaps in the event to help power Jasper’s 86-46 win over Northeast Dubois. The Wildcat boys made it a sweep, doubling up the Jeeps 88-44. For a gallery of photos, click here.

Herald Sports Writer

JASPER — Track meets got pretty lonely for Alex Hurm in the past.

Even with more than 30 other teammates on the Jasper girls track team, as well as the entire boys roster, the senior spent most of her time last season working solo in the high jump. She was the team’s only varsity high-jumper, meaning no teammates to train with or bounce ideas off of.

On Tuesday, she finally got some assistance in the form of two talented freshmen, and she couldn’t have been more pleased with the company.

And Jasper coach Dean Jerger couldn’t have been more pleased with the results.

It was a 1-2-3 sweep of the high jump for Hurm and Co., and just one example of the Cats finding talent in old and new places during their season-opening 86-46 win against county neighbor Northeast Dubois at Jerry Brewer Alumni Stadium in Jasper. On the boys side, the Wildcats demonstrated a similar balance in their 88-44 sprint past the Jeeps.

“I think any time you do well, it motivates you to work hard because you see that the hard work you did before has paid off,” Wildcat boys coach Kevin Schipp said about his team, which won its opening dual meet for the third straight year. “That’s the biggest thing. It excites you for the next (stage).”

Even for the first meet, it was easy for Schipp to find things to be pleased about — nine first-place victories (including all three relays) and a display of speed in the sprint events he hasn’t seen in the last couple of years. The Cats took the top two spots in the 100-meter dash with first-year track senior Brayden Betz (11.45) and Austin Schmidt finishing first and second, respectively. Those two flipped positions in the 200, and the Cats also swept the 400, paced by Zach Wood (55.07) in first.

But it was Schipp’s group of distance runners — chock full of underclassmen — who laid some of the most reassuring groundwork.

Jasper got first-place finishes from sophomores Henry Love and Chris Brake in the 1,600 and 3,200, respectively. Senior Connor Giesler nearly ran down Northeast Dubois stud Justin Kahle in the 800 before Kahle’s final kick separated the two. And Cale Kilian, trailing the Jeeps’ Luke Kerstiens the entire way in the 3,200, buzzed past the Jeep junior on the final lap to grab second place.

“I told the (distance runners) from the beginning; ”˜We need to do more than we did last year.’ The guys who were sophomores, I said, ”˜You’re not freshmen anymore. You’ve got to step up and contribute to the team if we want … to reach our goals,’” Schipp said. “They definitely stepped up.”

It’s the same kind of bonus production Jerger got from his high-jumpers. Freshman Annie Stout took first with a leap of 5-2, followed by classmate Priscilla Olson and Hurm for what Jerger said was the first sweep of the high jump in his eight years and some much-needed assistance for his senior.

“Getting first, second or third is really exciting and getting to share that with my teammates is (great),” Hurm said. “The three of us together, we’re talented and I think we could get first, second or third points often.”

 “Hurm did very well for us throughout the year (last season) and scored high points in sectional (with a fourth-place finish), but having (more talent) is always a good thing and having three of them is comforting,” Jerger added.

Jerger also found security in the performance of senior Alyssa Lawyer, who took first in both throwing events while recording a personal best in the shot put (32 feet). Classmate Sydney Berger also ran a personal best during her win in the 3,200 (13:03.63)  — one of the four events the Wildcats swept on the day.

Carolyn Van Houten/The Herald
Ty Peek sped to first place in the 110-meter hurdles for one of the four invididual victories for the Northeast Dubois boys.

Three Wildcat freshmen were first-place finishers with Stout (high jump and 200), Tara Cassidy (800 and 1,600) and Nicole Hentrup (400).

For the Jeeps, coach Tammy Schulthies warned her girls ahead of time that the sheer size of Jasper’s squad could spell problems in the points department, but regardless, she came away with a simple observation about her team.

“I have some competitors,” Schulthies said.

Alicia Betz prevailed in the 100 hurdles (16.53), an event in which Schulthies said she now runs four deep, as opposed to the usual one or two. Betz was pleased, too, even if the performance wasn’t as technically sound as she hoped.

“My arms go crazy so I always need to improve on that,” the senior said with a laugh.

Betz also ran a leg on the first-place 400 relay team with Brynn Hoffman, Ashton Knies and Kateland Bailey. Hoffman additionally collected first place in the 100 and long jump and Bailey was only 6 inches off her school record with a jump of 9-6 for first in the pole vault.

Schulthies was quick to point out the performances of all of her seniors, and Betz echoed the thought with a nod toward classmate Rachel Breitwieser, who finished second in her first 800 after sprinting all last season.

And if the other teams were finding success in new places, the Jeep boys got production from a pair of their dependable seniors.

Coach Vic Betz highlighted Tyler Haas, who took first in the shot put and high jump. Classmate Ty Peek finished second behind Haas in the high jump and won the 110 hurdles (16.15) with junior and practice compatriot Evan Betz just behind in second.

“In practice I’m always on (Betz), ”˜Stay with me. You need to do this and this.’ If we can get in sync, we’ll have 1-2 (finishes) every meet,” Peek said.

Vic Betz also saw an impressive performances from one of his newcomes, Italian foreign exchange student Andrea Furbaro. The junior went 11.77 in the 100.

The Jasper boys also got wins from Reid Milligan in the 300 hurdles (32.0), Luke Foster in the discus (135-61⁄2), Cole Mehringer in the pole vault (11-0) and Landon Jeffers in the long jump (19-5). Schipp said expectations are always tempered in the opening weeks of the season, but his team’s performance was a step in the right direction.

“We had some great things happen tonight,” Schipp said. “But we have to work harder because this isn’t where we want to be.”

Contact Joseph Fanelli

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