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Green and Bronson lead Nicolet girls state track qualifiers

Pigg, Kappel pace Knight boys efforts

June 1, 2011

Glendale - Leadership can be earned on the basketball court and then transferred to the track and also to the shot put and discus rings, as Nicolet state hoops champions and now two-time state track qualifiers Ashley Green and Gaby Bronson proved May 26.

It can also be earned simply by performance, as the Knights' Jeff Pigg showed, earning the top slot in the 800 meters in this weekend's state meet in La Crosse or teammate Brandon Kappel demonstrated, as he overcame a blown relay handoff and a sore hamstrings to advance in the 200 dash.

Anyway you cut it, the Nicolet track program had leadership in abundance in the WIAA sectional at Homestead.

And Nicolet girls coach Brian Sommers was indeed grateful for it.

"Gaby and Ashley have always been winners and they likely always will be," he said. "They always rise to the occasion."

Green anchored both the 800 and 400 relays to state. Both teams include Jnana Martin, Surya Chionesu and Ashley Jones. Green is grateful to be running with her long-time friend and fellow senior Jones. The pair has now gone to state on relays four years in a row.

"We've been running relays together since seventh grade (at Glen Hills Middle School)," said Green. "So things tend to go pretty smoothly between us (laughs)."

Meanwhile, Bronson earned a return berth of her own in the shot put and will also go in the discus, and she's earned the respect of fellow shot qualifier sophomore Devon Peck.

"This is amazing," said Peck. "I've been wanting to go to state for some time. I feel that I'm driven and want to succeed in a big way in everything that I do.

"… And Gaby's been a big part of that. She's been such a great big sister. She's driven me to succeed and has always been my biggest supporter."

Also joining the girls caravan to state is pole vaulter Kim Charles.

The Division 1 program of the state meet gets started at 4:30 p.m. Friday at Memorial Stadium on the UW-La Crosse campus. The pole vault and heats of both relays run this day, while the remainder of the championship finals, including the shot put, will be contested on Saturday, starting at 10:30 a.m.

Heats of the boys 200 will also be on Friday while the 800 final is on Saturday.

The girls qualifying efforts led them to a 68-point total, good for third in the 14-school sectional field. Arrowhead dominated the proceedings with 158.

Peck earned the Knights only first, with a 37-9 effort in the shot put while Bronson was third at 36-41/2. Bronson followed that with a second in the discus (110-0).

The two relays turned in quick times despite cold and windy conditions. The 800 team was second (1:46.9) while Green rallied the 400 team to third in 51.24, just 0.01 of a second ahead of Milwaukee King.

"It was a good show," Green said. "Hopefully we get some good weather at state so the times can continue to drop."

Charles earned her slot with a 9-6 clearance. She beat teammate Laura Lebrun on the basis of misses for the third and final state position in the event.

Sommers was pleased with the day, noting that Lauren Cunningham was only seventh in the 3,200 but still managed to break the school record with an 11:41.47 time. She also turned in an excellent time of 5:16.13 in taking fifth in the 1,600. Both times would have advanced to state easily out of other sectionals statewide.

"But that's what happens in this super sectional," Sommers said.

Pigg wants to fly

On the boys side, Pigg, as he has been doing regularly of late, took the lead right from the start and ran away from the field in establishing himself as one of the favorites in the 800 at state with a 1:55.2 time. It was not as quick as his state best clocking in the regional on Monday and so the senior transfer from Vincent is ready to go faster.

"It's not that I'm peaking quite yet, but just that I haven't experienced the best competition," he said of his impressive recent wins in the North Shore Conference, regional and sectional races. "I'm just feeling really good right now and my goal next week is to win it all."

He was fifth at state in the event last season.

Kappel, meanwhile, was hoping for at least two berths at state, but the 400 relay team he was on experienced a bad handoff at the end of its race and so was disqualified. Despite that and a tightening hamstring, he came back hard in the 200 and finished a strong third.

"After that happened, I knew I had to do it myself (get to state)," he said. "I just told myself I wasn't going to hold anything back. I felt the hamstring tighten up on the straightaway, but I just told myself to hang on and finish it."

Frank Fischer narrowly missed out on a berth of his own, clearing 6-0 in the high jump, good for fourth, an inch out of a third-place state slot.

The boys scored 21 points, good for 12th as Arrowhead won with 149.

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