After being beaten in the 100-meter dash by the slimmest of margins, there were no hard feelings from Kary Petricka.
Sure, the Eau Claire North senior was a runner-up in the event by a razor-thin margin of 0.03 seconds behind River Falls’ Sofia Naranjo-Mata, but she didn’t let it get to her. After all, there was still the 200.
“Before the 200, I walked up to Sofia and was like, ‘So since you took the 100, maybe I can take this 200?’ as a joke,” Petricka said.
It may have been a joke, but her performance was anything but. She set a personal record, crossing the finish line in 25.93 seconds to win the conference title in the event and get even with Naranjo-Mata.
“I got out of the blocks and knew I had to give it my all, because she’s so fast and her legs are long. I came into the last 50 (meters) and thought maybe I could let up a little, but then I just turned into another gear and said ‘I’m finishing it.’”
And that’s exactly what she did. It was one of two events Petricka finished as an individual conference champion in at Monday’s Big Rivers track and field championships at North. She also won the long jump title.
River Falls was the boys team conference champion, while Hudson won the girls.
The Menomonie boys finished in second place in the conference, powered by two champions in the field events. Sam Zbornik won the high jump for the Mustangs, while Devin Williams won the triple jump.
For Williams, it was redemption after coming up a bit short of being the Big Rivers champion in the event last season.
“It feels amazing,” he said. “It’s an experience because last year I lost by a few inches and was really disappointed, but I’m here to redeem myself, and it happened tonight.”
The Eau Claire Memorial girls finished in third as a team. The Old Abes’ 4x800 relay team was the conference champion in the event. The trio of Hailey Sorenson (800), Jillian Heth (3,200) and Kaiya Callanta (100 hurdles) all scored runner-up finishes for Memorial.
Chippewa Falls’ Ella Behling defended her conference title in the 800-meter run, shaking off an injury from last week to win the race.
“I was really freaking out about (the injury), but before I run I just try to get myself in the zone, picture myself finishing,” she said. “I think my mindset is what’s been getting me there.”
Her teammate on the boys side, JD Czech, continued his strong season with a win in the discus throw for the Cardinals.
North’s Saraya Davis continued her breakout year. The freshman, who holds the program record in the shot put, won the event to become a conference champion in her first season of high school track and field.
Not even she expected to start her career off this well.
“In middle school I broke the school record, but I never thought I’d break it this year and keep advancing from there,” Davis said. “I’ve been lifting a lot, and just working on my technique, my glide.”
The Rice Lake boys, the defending state champions in Division 2, got wins from several athletes. DeAirus Clerveaux won both the 400-meter dash and the long jump, while teammate Adam Strouf was the shot put conference champion.
North’s Logan Podolak set a program record in the 300 hurdles with a time of 39.89 seconds, but lost by an even slimmer margin than Petricka did in the 100 earlier in the day. Hudson’s Carter Maack beat him by 0.001 seconds.
Memorial’s boys 4x800 relay team, composed of Scout Stokes, Zak Sather, Aidan Snow and Will Hartman, won the conference title for the Old Abes. Fellow Abe Gunnar Leary was the boys pole vault champion.
Rice Lake’s Jasmine Mlejnek was the high jump champion, while Chippewa Falls’ Maddie Schmidley won the pole vault.
Now the athletes’ attention turns to regionals, which begin next week.
“I feel like I’m ready for the most part,” Petricka said. “I definitely have some things that I can take off and want to get my times down a bit, but I feel like I’m ready.”