Wauwatosa East girls track and field coach Nancy Braidigan had plenty of reasons to be proud of her squad, as they finished tied for 16th out of 73 teams at the WIAA Track & Field Championship last weekend at Memorial Stadium at the University of Wisconsin-La Crosse.
The Red Raiders did an excellent job as they had a second-, a fourth- and two eighth-place finishes.
"It was an outstanding weekend for the girls," Braidigan said. "The team placed 16th overall which is amazing. I can't tell you how proud the coaching staff is of these ladies."
Second in 1,600 race
Sophomore runner Natalie Schudrowitz finished second in the 1,600 meters with a time of 4 minutes, 57.84 seconds. She led almost the entire race until junior Delaney FitzPatrick of Lakeland (4:56.96) paced her in the final 100 meters.
"It's a little disappointing for sure, but I just started track this season, so I can't feel too bad," said Schudrowitz. "I tried different styles of running this year (she ran from the front in this race). No one was pushing me right away so I decided to go to the front.
"I thought I was in good shape, but she had a really good kick. I tried to go with her, but it just didn't quite work out. I'm still happy with it. It was a PR and the whole (state) experience was so much fun. There are just so many people here (a record two-day crowd of over 18,000)."
Braidigan was thrilled with Schudrowitz' performance.
"Her mile race was so exciting to watch," she said. "She ran it so well and just got beat at the end. Having run two excellent races the day before I think she is more than happy with the results. "Another PR and second in the state is truly excellent."
Schudrowitz then finished eighth in the 3,200 (11:04.76).
"Natalie's two-mile was a story in itself," Braidigan said. "During the first 100 meters she tripped, fell and lost her shoe. Usually that is considered grounds for a restart but the officials didn't call it back so that was a little disheartening. But she put the shoe back on and came back to finish eighth with a PR."
Senior nabs fourth in event
On the other end, the veteran Claire Gordee, a senior, finished fourth in the 400 meters in a time of 57.90 seconds. She had qualified second out of the preliminaries, which was a big surprise to her.
"I was startled with that," she said. "I never thought that would happen. The (finals) race was very exciting. I got a little wobbly there at the end but I held on as best as I could."
Gordee, who will attend the UW-La Crosse and major in physical therapy, returned to state this year as an individual.
"It was a nice experience," she said. "Last year I came here as part of the (800) relay, so coming here by myself instead of a group was a little different. I love the day of the finals. The place (Veteran's Memorial Stadium) is always shaking (with energy) so that's really cool."
Braidigan was also happy for her senior.
"Claire began and finished her state experience on the podium for the 400," she recalled. "Her freshman year she was sixth, so moving two notches to fourth was a great way to end things.
"I know she really wanted to run a faster time but she had three races the day before that she gave her all in and so she has to walk away feeling really good about what she has accomplished."
The other eighth-place finish came from the record-setting 3,200 relay (9:35.20) behind senior Nicole Kashian, senior Bethel Assefa and sophomore Jordy Schmidt.
"The 3,200 relay ran a PR by 10 seconds and broke the school record by 0.2 seconds," Braidigan pointed out. "They were so thrilled. Natalie and Bethel are taking their sister's names off the record sheets."
Others athletes place at meet
The 1,600 relay placed 16th (4:07.25) behind freshman Lauren Dillon, Kashian, Schmidt and Gordee.
"I knew the 1,600 meter relay was a was going to be tough to make finals," Braidigan said, "but we had to still go for it and the girls gave it their all and still placed 16th."
Schmidt also finished 17th in the 800 (2:22.50).
"Jordy had a great open 800," Braidigan said. "She got a little boxed in during the first lap but had a great kick at the end as always."
Sophomore Hailey Krahn finished 19th in the discus throw with a toss of 102 feet, 6 inches.
"It was Hailey's first experience at state and I am sure she would have liked to have done better but it is a good experience for her especially as a sophomore," Braidigan said.
The bottom line for Braidigan was her team had a great worth ethic and it paid off on the big stage.
"It was such and exciting weekend for all the girls and to walk away 16th in the state of Wisconsin is a great thing for them," she said. "This group worked so hard during the preseason and during the season and they reaped the benefits - a trip to state and so much more."
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