River Falls’ track relays shine in first Big Rivers meet

Posted 4/12/22

The River Falls Wildcats’ track and field relays have distinguished themselves as some of the best in the Big Rivers Conference, as was demonstrated with three first-place finishes in the relay …

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River Falls’ track relays shine in first Big Rivers meet


The River Falls Wildcats’ track and field relays have distinguished themselves as some of the best in the Big Rivers Conference, as was demonstrated with three first-place finishes in the relay events at the Big Rivers Conference Indoor Relay meet on Tuesday, April 5, at the University of Wisconsin- Eau Claire campus. Although it’s still early in the 2022 spring sports season, the River Falls relay events – on both the boys’ and girls’ sides – have progressed as quickly as any in the Big Rivers Conference. At that indoor relay meet at UW-Eau Claire, the River Falls boys earned a first and second-place finish in the 4×200 meter relay with times of 1:35.74 and 1:36.02.

The River Falls boys also posted a first-place finish in the 4×400 meter relay with a time of 3:36.61, edging out the second- place Hudson Raiders, who finished approximately five seconds later to claim the silver medal in the event.

The Wildcats boys’ dominance wasn’t done. River Falls also posted a second-place finish in the 4×800 meter relay, trailing only Eau Claire Memorial in the event, while still edging out six other Big Rivers Conference schools. River Falls track coach Max Haskins spoke about the success of the boys’ relays thus far.

“It was a very strong showing by the boys’ relays,” Haskins said. “It was the first meet they looked comfortable running on the tighter indoor track, and it showed with them posting some season-best times. It was pretty special to see our 4x200s go head-to-head and sweep the top two spots.”

Because the Big Rivers contains mostly large Division 1 and Division 2 schools, each program has multiple 4×200 meter relay squads, the standard varsity, and also a “B” squad. The Wildcats’ “B” squad earned the aforementioned first-place finish in the event and defeated the “A” team by less than half a second to win the event.

To put that into context, the next-best “B” squad result from that same meet was New Richmond’s, which finished in ninth place and was more than six seconds worse than River Falls’ “B” squad. Haskins spoke about the talent on his 4×200 “A” and “B” team.

“Both of those groups of kids are so competitive and it’s not too often you get an opportunity to see them run in that environment,” Haskins said. “I don’t think (they’re improving because) any specific athlete is making a jump, it’s just a group with a lot of talent learning how to race more confidently.”

In addition to the dominant 4×200 relay performance, River Falls won the 4×400 meter relay. It’s another talented group of student-athletes that have been pushing to improve in these opening three weeks of the season. Haskins spoke about that group and its development this year.

“As far as the 4×400 relay goes, that group of Isaac Carns (a team captain), Robbie Anderson, Morris Toppel and Zack Nye are continuously pushing their standard higher and higher,” Haskins said of the group. “They set a high bar for themselves and expect to improve every time they hit the track.”

While the boys’ relays had success, so did the girls’ relay events. The lady Wildcats won the 4×200 meter relay by less than half a second over second-place Eau Claire Memorial. River Falls also earned a third-place finish in the 4×400 meter relay, trailing only Chippewa Falls and New Richmond.

See TRACK, Page B-6

River Falls senior Dane Dixen (right), freshman Jack Silloway (middle) and sophomore Zachary Hutchins (left) run the 55-meter dash at an indoor meet earlier this season. Throughout the year, River Falls has consistently improved times at indoor meets as was demonstrated at the final indoor meet at UW-Eau Claire on Tuesday, April 5. Photo by Reagan Hoverman TRACK

From Page B-3

“For the girls 4×200, they’re a very experienced group that finished last season standing on the podium in La Crosse,” Haskins said. “Elise Frisbie (team captain), Rebecca Randleman and Brooke Silloway all return this season and finished on a high note with that first-place finish.”

The 4×200 girls’ relay is as experienced as any in the Big Rivers Conference. However, the same can’t be said about the 4×400 meter relay, which has new faces and is making improvements each week.

“For the 4×400 meter, they set a season-best and showed a ton of improvement,” Haskins said. “This is a group that’s led by one of our most experienced athletes, Morgan Prigge (team captain), but also has a lot of new faces on it. It’s awesome to see them tap into their potential more and more each time they compete.”

Although relays were the focus of the meet, there were various field events throughout the meet that River Falls had success in. Most notably was Jordan Karras, who cleared six-foot in the high jump event, which earned him a first-place finish.

“I was pleasantly surprised with some of the performances we had in our field events,” Haskins said. “Jordan Karras was over 6’0” in the high jump again as well as several other athletes setting season personal bests. This has been a theme for us so far and I’m excited to see how we ride that momentum into the outdoor season.”

For the girls, senior Madeline Simpson earned a thirdplace finish in the pole vault after she cleared nine feet. Simpson was one of only three girls at the meet to clear that height. Junior Abi Banitt tied for second place in the high jump with a height of 4’10”, trailing only Emma Mommsen from Menomonie, who cleared more than five feet.

“On the girls’ side, Madeline Simpson had a great day in the vault and Abi Banitt cleared a lifetime best in the high jump,” Haskins said. “Very similar to the boys, a lot of personal bests and momentum that we can ride into the outdoor season.”

For Haskins, what he’s seen this year – and at the UW-Eau Claire Indoor Relay – is a level of success and growth that gives him hope that a Big Rivers Conference title is in play for the 2022 season. He spoke about what this momentum could mean for his program.

“I think we had a strong showing and it’s always tough to have a quick turnaround between meets, but our kids responded and had some of their best performances of the indoor season,” Haskins said. “I think that our program has a lot of momentum heading into outdoor season and we’re in a good place to keep building toward winning a Big Rivers Conference title.”

Up next for the River Falls track team is an outdoor meet on Thursday, April 14, at Hudson High School. That meet is slated to begin at 3:30 p.m.