Witt-Birn track and field team reloading after run of success

Tigerton, Gresham/Bowler also prepping for season

By Morgan Rode sports@newmedia-wi.com

Photo by Tina Bacon Wittenberg-Birnamwood junior Cole Schairer hopes to make it to state in the 1,600 this season while leading the team’s distance runners.

A year ago, the Wittenberg-Birnamwood High School track and field team opened the year with big goals and aspirations in mind, eventually reaching many of those as the girls team won its second straight Division 2 state title and also a Central Wisconsin Conference-Large Division title.

The story is different heading into this season, with many of last year’s state competitors having graduated.

“This year will be challenging for both the boys and girls teams due to low numbers,” said Witt-Birn track and field coach Mike Balliett. “The girls team lost five very talented seniors (Kylie Linke, Alyssa Meverden, Paige Norrbom, Emily Norrbom and Maddy Pietz).”

“Both teams are also pretty young,” Balliett added. “The boys team has some freshmen that will be able to help the team, but it is difficult on the boys side for freshmen to compete against juniors and seniors.”

Senior Chloe King has played a role in the girls’ success at state during her high school career. At state last spring, King was a member of the second-place finishing 4x200-meter relay team.

This year, King will be competing primarily in sprints and jumps.

Aside from her taking part in several events, she will also serve as a veteran voice for the team.

“As a senior, I’m looking to lead my team by example,” King said. “I’m pushing myself in practice, so my teammates can follow my footsteps. Now that I’m the senior, I have to set the pace and help motivate the underclassmen to become the best they can be.”

Junior Lauren Bahr will also compete in sprints for Witt-Birn, while sophomore Lauren Dombeck takes part in sprints and hurdles.

Sophomore Emma Herb headlines the girls throwers after making it to sectionals as a freshman.

For the Witt-Birn boys, junior Cole Schairer will compete in distance events and also serve a leadership role.

“As a veteran on the team, I’ll make sure that the younger athletes know that they have to have their mind right and focus on improving themselves throughout the season,” Schairer said. “In the beginning, it will be hard for most of them, but I can motivate them so that they continue to work their hardest.”

Schairer was on the Chargers 4x400 relay team that made it to sectionals last spring, while also competing individually in the 1,600 meters. The junior hopes to make it to state in the mile, while also improving his times in the 800 and 3,200.

Junior Luis Rodriguez will help lead the boys throwers, while junior Deakyn Suess competes in sprints and jumps.

The Chargers open the season Thursday, competing in an invitational at Northland Pines High School.

Witt-Birn was placed in the Division 2 Lakeland Union regional (May 20), with any sectional qualifiers competing at Mosinee (May 23).


With just nine athletes on the team, Tigerton — coached by Holly Meverden — heads into the season focused on performing its best at the end of the year.

Senior Monika Minniecheske was the team’s lone sectional qualifier a season ago, competing in the 300 hurdles. She will also likely take part in the 100 hurdles, long jump and triple jump this year, along with serving as a leader.

“I plan to lead the younger athletes by showing them how to do something correctly if I happen to notice and the coach is busy,” said Minniecheske, who hopes to make it to state and possibly break a couple of records this season. “I’ll push them to work harder when they want to give up, even though I also want to give up.”

Junior Bethany Kreklow will compete in the 1,600 and 3,200. Sophomore Ladia Block is expected to run the 800 and take part in the high jump.

Senior Jared Berg (shot put, discus) and junior Nathaen Wanta (300 hurdles, 200) serve as the top returning boys athletes.

Tigerton will compete in the Division 3 Hilbert regional (May 20), with qualifiers advancing to the Marathon sectional (May 23).


The Gresham/Bowler co-op enters the spring season under the direction of a new coach. Chad Thorne set the tone from the first days of practice.

“As a first-year head coach, the focus has been on accountability and getting better individually and as a team,” Thorne said.

Junior Alyssa Strassburg made it to sectionals in the discus last year. Senior Bryce Bohl made it to sectionals in the 200 and also competes in the 100.

The co-op will compete in the Division 3 Oconto regional (May 20), with any qualifiers advancing to the Marathon sectional.

The 2019 state Track & Field Championships will be held May 31 and June 1 at Veterans Memorial Stadium in La Crosse.