Sun Prairie sophomore Hannah Ray gathered her three teammates prior to the girls 3,200-meter relay and exhorted them to set the tone for the entire Cardinals team at Monday’s Big Eight Conference track and field meet.
“We wanted to do things like last year when we won it and set the record (for the event) at the conference meet,” said Ray, the lone member of last year’s relay again running the event. “We were in a huddle before the race and I said, ‘We’ve got to go out and win because it sets us up for the whole meet.’ ”
Freshman Kate Kopotic, running the anchor leg, helped Sun Prairie win the 3,200 relay in 9 minutes, 41.93 seconds, holding off runner-up Middleton (9:42.62) at Madison La Follette’s Lussier Stadium.
“I didn’t think I had it,” Kopotic said. “That was a really good race.”
Ray, running the third leg, barely made the baton exchange to Kopotic. “Then I face-planted,” Ray said.
Sun Prairie didn’t break its 2017 mark of 9:39.57, but the team of sophomore Amber Hodges, freshman Janelle Schulz, Ray and Kopotic indeed helped set the tone.
Coach Doug Maughan’s deep Sun Prairie team won the girls meet for the second consecutive year and eighth time in the past 10 seasons, finishing first with 173.50 points. Madison Memorial was second (142.50) and Middleton third (100).
Sun Prairie senior Jada Schuh won the 100 hurdles in 15.43 seconds and the 300 hurdles (:47.17), while junior Ashley O’Connell (11 feet, 6 inches) won the pole vault.
Janesville Craig senior Peyton Sippy, a University of Wisconsin commit, won the 1,600 in 5:06.29 and the 3,200 in 11:08.27. Sun Prairie piled up points behind Sippy, including finishing second through fourth in both events.
Madison Memorial’s strong meet featured senior Meg Fitzpatrick winning the 400 (:59.75) and the 200 (:26.28). The Spartans swept the three relay victories.
Spartans sophomore Leilani Kapinus, coming back from a torn posterior cruciate ligament in her right knee suffered during basketball season, was the high jump winner, clearing a personal best 5 feet, 3 inches and finishing ahead of teammate Grace Korger (5-2). Kapinus also was part of the Spartans’ victorious 800 relay.
“I’m really happy with where I placed,” said Kapinus, seeded fourth with a 5-0 leap entering the meet.
Kapinus said she was injured when she landed on her knee after a layup attempt in Memorial’s final basketball game of the season — a WIAA Division 1 regional final in February.
She was supposed to be sidelined until mid-June, but recently was cleared to compete. Kapinus — who has basketball scholarship offers from Marquette, UW-Green Bay, Indiana and UW — was excited to return because she wanted to compete for her AAU basketball team and in track.
“I really like the (track) team,” Kapinus said. “I like the chemistry we have. Track is a good way for me to push myself. It helps me in basketball too with all the CrossFit (training) we do.”
Janesville Parker junior Julia Hartwig set a meet record with a toss of 42 feet, 5.75 inches in the girls shot put. She shattered the 1989 record of Parker’s Lynn Klipstine (41-8). Madison La Follette’s Kiara Lee won the long jump (17-4¼) and triple jump (38-3¾).
• Middleton won its sixth consecutive boys conference meet championship and third straight under coach Joe Line. The Cardinals chanted “six-peat” after the final results were announced.
Middleton was first with 150.67 points. Sun Prairie was second with 111 and Verona placed third (83.33).
Middleton senior Aaron Richardson won the 100 in :10.88, claimed the 200 (:22.41) and earned the long jump crown (21-8½).
Middleton junior Caleb Easton — after struggling with injuries, including a knee ailment during the offseason — won the 1,600 in 4:22.47. Middleton senior Sam Jaeger was second (4:23.21).
“We are going for the team title,” Easton said after the 1,600. “We were just trying to race to win. I would have liked to have run faster. But you have to race the field and see what happens. I know there will be opportunities to run faster.”
Easton said the “six-peat” was the team’s goal.
“We are trying to put it together as a team like in cross country (Middleton was the Division 1 state champion last fall),” Easton said. “I’m happy to finally get a win this season. It puts a little confidence under your belt.”
Easton later was second (1:58.55) behind Madison West senior Daniel Jacobs (1:57.53) in the 800. Middleton senior Jack Rader (9:35.05) and Jaeger (9:43.10) finished 1-2 in the 3,200.
Tyler Precia (triple jump winner, 43-02.75), Dominick Landphier (high jump winner, 6-3) and Emmanuel Mielke (discus winner, 138-00) led Sun Prairie.
The meet was moved to Monday after it was postponed Friday due to rain and cold weather.