The Hamilton track and field teams opened the season at the UW-Whitewater Nelson-Daniels Classic on March 18 with encouraging and positive results. Hamilton's girls squad placed second out of 23 teams with 47.5 points. On the boys' side, HHS finished in a four-way tie for 14th with 15 points.
Hamilton's girls relays have been strong in past seasons, and this year's team will likely be no different. Three different relay teams claimed titles at the Nelson-Daniels Classic.
In the 4x200, Amanda Hammond, Elizabeth Behrndt, Megan Jansett and Morgan Price placed first in a time of 1 minute, 49.87 seconds. The 4x400 relay of Price, Chelsea Parker, Jansett and Bianca Stubler claimed the top prize with a 4:08.54.
"They take a lot of pride in the relay," Hamilton coach Ben Nysse said. "It's what they talk about. We get individuals from time to time, like, obviously, a Bianca, who has ambitions to do what she does individually, which is great, but the thing they talk about is the relays ... they want to go out there and perform in those races."
Parker, Caroline Troutman, Taylor Fuerstenburg and Rachel Passow also won the 4x800 in 10:13.413. Sun Prairie came in just behind Hamilton in 10:13.420.
Bianca Stubler won the 400 in 58.83. The University of Wisconsin track and field commit has taken second at state the last two years.
"She's really focused on hitting some time goals," Nysse said. "That's her big focus. Obviously, she would love to win, but she has some definite time goals in mind in places we set out like these are the benchmarks we want to hit at certain points in the season. Ultimately, if she can hit those benchmarks and she hits that time goal, I think she'll be very happy with it. You can't base your season on beating somebody else because you can't control what they do, but you can control your own time goals and her time goals are ambitious."
Rachel Jeffers was seventh in the 1,600 (5:28.07), and Passow was ninth in the 800 (2:34.77).
"I was really impressed with just how balanced a lot of the stuff was," Nysse said. "We had some really good finishes, obviously in the relays because that tends to be our thing. But I thought we had some good finishes in the distance races, both boys and girls. I thought good about some of our performances in the field events as well. Ty Olejnik won the long jump, and Rachel Seraphine was third in the pole vault (10-6). Both of those were great performances."
Olejnik, who finished ninth at state last season as a sophomore, won the long jump with a length of 22 feet, 2¾ inches.
"He's only within very few inches of his PR," Nysse said. "He was really happy with it. He's been working very hard on his strength in the offseason, which is helping a great deal with the power of that jump."
Michael Swope came in sixth in the 1,600 with a time of 4:39.40, and Brian Wiedenfeld took 16th in 4:52.61. The 4x200 relay of Olejnik, Cam Davis, Tyler Fralik and Jackson Kollath were seventh (1:36.90).
Ryan Coe took ninth in the 400 (56.67). The 4x800 relay of Garret Staab, Gavin Kuhlenbeck, Peyton Feuder and Evan Selin came in 11th (8:57.59). Matt Bohlman finished 14th in the triple jump (38-5), and Joey Bolda was 16th in the shot put (43-0 1/2).
Stephen Schmidt, Hamilton's boys cross-country coach in the fall, will be an assistant on the boys track and field team this season.
"It just adds a continuity to it," Nysse said. "That, I think, is going to allow the boys to really flourish because last year we were spread a little too thin. I coach with him in the fall, and he coaches now in the spring. It's going to be a nice consistent move."
Marcus Paulson, the 2009 state cross-country champion from Hamilton, will be a volunteer coach this year for the boys.
"That's another added boost for us as well because the kids really look up to him," Nysse said. "They see his trophy and his picture in the school every day."