Germantown — Middle-distance runner Liz Wendt will take her considerable skill, kind spirit and impeccable results to Madison and the University of Wisconsin next year.
But in earning that right, the five-time state track place-winner, along with her classmate and relay partner Andrea Sielicki, took the groundwork laid by former Warhawks distance ace Kate Lydy and lifted Germantown into a new realm of respect in distance running.
Wendt put her stamp permanently on Germantown lore and its record books with a stunning effort last weekend in the WIAA State Meet in La Crosse.
On Friday, she anchored the 3,200 relay team of Sielicki, MacKenzie Erdmann, Caitlin Dillon and herself to a school record fifth place (9:24.12), and then she advanced the 1,600 relay of Meredith Humiston, Sammie Gassner and Dillon to the finals with a time of 4:02.64.
Then on Saturday, she showed great mental toughness, running the 800 through a heavy mid-day downpour, using a dramatic kick to bring herself all the way to third (2:16.41). To close things out, in the late afternoon chill, she helped improve the 1,600 relay's place in the finals, this time with Sielicki in place of Humiston, and got them on the medal stand with a sixth-place finish and a 4:02.66 showing.
"This was a really good experience," said Wendt, "especially as a senior. Going in we had some really high expectations and they all didn't turn out as well as we would have liked or even as good as last year, but it was still nice."
Wendt was second in the 800 last year as was the 3,200 relay.
"It was so hard to see (in the 800)," she said, "but I was able to see the (scoreboard) click and I noticed I was going way too fast (too early) from my normal split. I knew I had to adjust my plans after that."
Those efforts led the Warhawks to a 15th-place showing in the team standings with 13 points as Bradley Tech's sprint power allowed it to win with an impressive 70 points.
Other entries at state for the Warhawks included another senior, Lexi Keefe, taking 19th in the discus (107-4) and 16th in the shot put (36-5), while still another senior Abby Croft, took 11th in the pole vault (10-0) with the sophomore Dillon earning 24th in the 1,600 (5:26.1).
Wendt, who was also all-state in cross country last fall, would like to major in business at Madison. She's proud of what she and her classmates have been able to accomplish.
"It's been so much fun," she said. "The best times of my life have been spent in this sport."
Other key seniors include Sielicki, Croft, Erdmann, Humiston, Ali Lotz, and Keri Soehrmann.
And Wendt has a word of encouragement for Dillon, who will lead the Warhawks distance corps next fall.
"It'll be hard not to have her running with me," she said, "but she will excel so much in the future. She has so much in store for her."
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