Some teams avoid high expectations because they’re intimidating.
Josie Tiffany and her teammates are driven by a goal; they don’t have time to be intimidated.
Even if any of the five Elmwood/Plum City girls track athletes were intimidated by the work necessary to compete for a WIAA Division 3 state title in the 3200-meter relay this season the Wolves have a built-in balancing act.
“The seniors have a goal. They’re always thinking about that goal as they run,” head coach Sue Thompson said. “That pushes them and it keeps them going.”
They remained driven, and at the WIAA D3 Colfax sectional, they qualified for the WIAA Division 3 state track meet on June 2 and June 3.
- SEE BELOW for a complete list of WIAA D3 athletes that qualified for state
Tiffany is the main motivator for freshman Katie Feuker, junior Kassye Todd, and seniors Emily Pickerign and Kylee Sabelko.
“She gets me over the finish line,” Todd said. “Especially when I’m anchor, to hear her cheering me on, there’s no way I can lose with her right there.”
Pickerign said she spent much of the relay race thinking about Tiffany, who is notorious for scouting out the times of potential competition around the state.
“When she starts yelling and cheering, I think to myself, I’ve got more in me. I can keep going,” Pickerign said. “I think what pushes us is that we don’t want to let each other down. No one wants to disappoint any one of us.”
The balancing act is that they all enjoy running. Sabelko adds an extra layer to make sure the group has balance and continues to have fun.
All of their personalities blend well for the relay team that won conference and was the heavy favorite to win the regional and sectionals.
“It just shows their individuality. They each bring something different to the team,” Thompson said. “Josie is very goal driven. She is focused on that end goal that she has in mind.
“Kylee is about harmony and that we’ll get it done.”
The balance that Sabelko provides helps the youngest leg of the relay team.
Feuker replaced her sister, Libby, on the relay team after Libby graduated last year. Last year’s relay team took second place at state.
There’s an extra piece of pressure that Katie puts on herself as she competes with the team.
“I don’t want to disappoint them and I think about it because my sister was a good runner, so I feel like I’m running for her too,” Feuker said.
Before Feuker could finish her sentence, both Sabelko and Tiffany cut her off to tell her she was doing a great job.
“I try to make sure she’s calm, but everyone puts a lot of pressure on her,” Sabelko said. “I try to tell her that if she don’t run her fastest, it’s okay. It happens. But she’s been doing really well for us.”
“They’re very supportive of Katie,” Thompson said. “They don’t look at her like she’s a freshman riding their shirt tails. They look at her as a very valuable contributor to the team.”
Thompson said Feuker has a good chance to make it to state individually as a sprinter depending on what events she competes in.
It’s the balance, from start to finish, that fuels the Wolves as they try to make their return to state.
“The way I see it, there’s really only one spot left for us to move up,” Tiffany said. “I feel like I put a lot of pressure on everyone, but I just try to push everyone because I think we all really want to win (at state). … I don’t want to jinx it, but I think we have a good shot (to get back to state).”
And if they get there, who knows what can happen.
RESULTS FROM SECTIONALS
EPC junior Kassye Todd will be competing in three events on her own at the WIAA Division 3 state track meet in La Crosse on Friday, June 2 after she took first place in the 1600- and 3200-meter runs as well as the 3200-meter relay.
Freshman Katie Feuker and seniors Josie Tiffany and Kylee Sabelko make up the other three legs of the 3200-meter relay team that finished with a time of 9 minutes, 56.33 seconds.
Feuker, Tiffany and Sabelko also qualified for the 1600-meter relay along with senior Emily Pickerign after taking third place with a time of 4:20.91.
Spring Valley qualified its 800-meter relay team of junior Brianna O’Brien, senior Tatum Huntress, and sophomores Erin Stans and Maddie Jacobson. The relay team took second place with a time of 1:51.8.