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Erickson runs best 400 time, looks to medal
Times photo: Mark Nesbitt Albanys Tyler Conley runs in the 800-meter race Friday at the WIAA Division 3 state track and field meet in La Crosse. Conley finished ninth.
LA CROSSE - Darlington junior Alex Erickson doesn't need to be convinced that nothing will come easy in a loaded 400-meter field at the WIAA Division 3 Track and Field Division 3 State Championships.

Erickson finished fourth in the 400-meter dash preliminaries (:50.69) Friday at the University of Wisconsin's La-Crosse's Veterans Memorial Stadium. Pecatonica-Argyle junior Lucas Stoehr took seventh (:51.52) and also will also run for a medal in the finals today.

"You want to do it here if you do it anywhere," Erickson said about running his season best time in the 400. "I wanted to run a good time and get a good seed."

Shell Lake junior Tom Helstern broke the Division 3 state record in the 400 as he ran the top time in the preliminaries (:48.84).

"Last year wasn't as tough as competition as this year," said Erickson, who took third at state last year and helped lead the Redbirds' 400 and 1,600 relay teams to the finals this year. "I guess that's why it's the state meet."

Stoehr took in his first state meet and was looking forward to the finals.

"I didn't run the best time," Stoehr said of his preliminary. "I kind of wanted to save something for tomorrow. I don't know if that was the best idea."

The Redbirds' 400 relay team of Tucker Wiegel, Mitchell Langkamp, Trynton Schwartz and Erickson finished seventh in the preliminaries with a time of 44.80 seconds.

Erickson teamed with Wiegel, Cedric Flesher and Langkamp to finish second in the 1,600 relay with a time of 3 minutes, 27.56 seconds.

"If we run well, we will get a medal," Darlington track coach Todd Bastian said.

The Darlington girls track team qualified its 400 and 800 relays for the finals today. The Redbirds' 800 relay team of junior Chayse Hermanson, senior Lisa Kreidler, junior Kayla Lange and sophomore Hannah Huffman finished eighth in the preliminaries with a time of 1:51.52. The Redbirds' 400 relay team of senior Kara Krahenbuhl, Hermanson, freshman Cassidy Chambers and Huffman took 10th in the preliminaries with a time of 52.37 seconds.

The Redbirds' 1,600 relay team of Huffman, Lange, Olivia Wedig and Hermanson finished 11th in the preliminaries (4:14.3), but did not qualify for the finals.

Albany senior Tyler Conley finished ninth in the 800 with a time of 1:58.86, which was less than one second away from medaling. Pecatonica-Argyle sophomore Wyatt Massey took 15th (2:02.71).

Black Hawk junior Rachel Rygh finished eighth in the preliminaries of the 200 (:26.81) to qualify for the finals today. Rygh took 12th in the preliminaries of the 100 (:13.17), which was 0.06 seonds away from qualifying for the finals.

The Darlington girls 3,200 relay team of senior Wedig, freshman Christa Wamsley, junior Shawni Smith and freshman Cheyenne Wolfe finished 11th with a time of 10:13.73. Albany's 3,200 relay team of Courtney Pfeuti, Jessica Mauerman, Rosy Bauman and Ciara Kubesh took 17th with a time of 10:32.77.

"I'm happy with our sprint relays," Bastian said. "They both PR'd. They will have to do that again tomorrow."

Notes: Pecatonica-Argyle senior Jeremy Meudt, who is the fifth seed in the high jump and has cleared 6-2 this year, will jump for a medal today. ... Albany junior Drew Mather will run in the 3,200 finals today, as will the Comets' 3,200 relay team. ... Pecatonica-Argyle sophomore Kendra Sigg, who qualified for state for the second straight year, will run for a medal in the 1,600 and Black Hawk senior Katie Place will compete for a medal in the triple jump today. ... The first day attendance at state was 9,717, which was about 150 people less than last year's first day attendance (9,861).