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Monroe breezes into sectionals with 16 qualifying athletes
Times photo: Monroe freshman Luke Peterson finished fourth in the 1,600 Tuesday at the WIAA Division 2 Sugar River regional. The Cheesemakers won the regional title, 185.5-90 over runner-up Sugar River.
BELLEVILLE - Monroe boys track coach Dave Hirsbrunner knows that getting into the fast heat in a sectional can make or break a team's quest for state.

After watching the Cheesemakers' 1,600-meter relay team run in a slower heat and fail to qualify for state last year, Hirsbrunner didn't want to repeat history.

"You have to get through to Friday (sectional) and make sure you are in the fastest heat," Hirsbrunner said. "Last year, I think that (not qualifying to run in the fastest heat) cost us a trip to state."

That's why Hirsbrunner wanted Monroe to attack the race at the WIAA Division 2 Sugar River regional Tuesday. The Cheesemakers' 1,600 team of Bryan Tordoff, Tad Christen, Cullen Sampson and Brett DeNure won the race with a time of 3 minutes, 26.71 seconds, which was the second fastest Division 2 time this year. Brodhead-Juda's 1,600 relay team of Josh Wilkins, Danny Douglas, Trent Jordan and Ryan Miller finished second (3:31).

Monroe won the WIAA Division 2 Sugar River Regional by outdistancing Sugar River, 185.5-90. The Cheesemakers qualified 16 individuals and all four relays for the Boscobel Sectional on Friday.

"It doesn't happen very often," Hirsbrunner said. "It's a big meet to win."

Christen won regional titles in the long jump (19 feet, 2 1/4 inches, to edge Sugar River junior Brendan Pittman's 19-0) and in the triple jump (41-0). He added a third-place finish in the 200 (:23.68).

"My main goal is just to definitely go on through the sectional," Christen said.

Christen wasn't satisfied with his jumps into the wind, but he's content to move on.

"I made it through," he said. "I did what I needed to do."

Sugar River's Matt Christen finished third in the triple jump (38-10 1/2) and Monroe junior Mack Brunker was fourth (38-5 1/2).

For most of Monroe's athletes, getting a top four finish was more important than trying to set a personal best. Monroe sophomore Jeff Hill took fourth place in the pole vault after clearing 12-3. Since he locked up a sectional berth, Hill didn't make another vault.

"It's kind of like cat and mouse," Hirsbrunner said about knowing when each athlete needs to refine a technique or push for a better height or time, and when it's time to shut it down and be ready to perform at the sectional.

Monroe sophomore Michael Barrett, who is recovering from an ankle injury after tripping on a mat, sealed second place by clearing 6-0 in his first high jump attempt.

"We thought he would be done for the year," Hirsbrunner said. "He lived to see another day. The only reason we kept him jumping is he blew out his ankle and we wanted to test it."

The Cheesemakers' 3,200 relay team of Skyler Stingley, Joe Pecora, Sampson and DeNure won with a time of 8:12.69. The Raiders' 3,200 relay team of Brian Anderson, Dennis Haak, Travis Beutler and Beau York took third with a time of 8:33.52. Beutler added a second-place finish in the 3,200 (10:09.42) and Pecora was third (10:10.47).

DeNure won the 800 (2:02.18) and Haak took second (2:05.55).

"We wanted them to run an 8:20 to make sure we are in the fast heat at the sectional," Hirsbrunner said of the 3,200 relay. "Brett didn't run his hardest. He shut it down because he had two more events. We are a sub-8:10 team right now. We are hoping that will get us to state."

Monroe senior Lucas Leu won a regional title in the discus (140-3) and Luke Voegeli took second in the discus (130-2) and shot put (45-2). Michael Reed added a fourth-place finish in the shot put for the Cheesemakers (44-2).

Brodhead-Juda senior Cody Spooner took third in the discus (128-3) to qualify for the sectional.

Brodhead senior Ryan Miller had the fastest qualifying time in the 110 high hurdles, but his showdown with Sugar River's Jeremy McDermott and Monroe's Caleb Ahrens was short-circuited when he false started in the finals. McDermott won the 110 hurdles (:15.76) and Ahrens was second (:15.89). In the 300 hurdles, the Raiders had two of the top four finishes - McDermott took second (:42.13) and Anderson was fourth (:42.28). Miller finished third (:42.24).

Monroe senior Dan Vale took third place in the 100 (:11.82).

Vale teamed with Garrett Wyss, Alex Bartlett and Mason Goff to take second place in the 400 relay with a time of (:45.67). Brodhead-Juda's 400 relay team of Mitch Weisenberg, Cory Steiner, Trent Jordan and Vinny Mazzarisi took fourth (:47.20) to qualify for the sectional.

Brodhead-Juda senior Jordan Riemer finished second in the 1,600 (4:48) and Monroe freshman Luke Peterson took fourth (4:52.17).

Bartlett, who finished fourth in the 200 (:24.3) teamed with Vale, Tordoff and Goff to finish third in the 800 relay with a time of 1:35.4. Sugar River's 800 relay team of Tory Boley, Nick Davis, Nick Gunkel and Kelvin Pryor finished fourth (1:39.72) to qualify for the sectional.