For the first time since 1995, Barron High School has a state track and field champion!
Fran Peterson, a junior, won the Div. 2 3200-meter title on Friday, June 3, during the WIAA Track and Field State Championships at UW-La Crosse. Her state title highlighted the Golden Bears’ fantastic showing at the 2-day meet that concluded Saturday.
Barron advanced to La Crosse in six events and made the podium in all six. Peterson finished second in the 1600M run, sophomore Hailee Halverson placed fourth in the 100M hurdles, senior Colin Kappel was sixth in the pole vault, and sophomore Grant Shipley – Barron’s first wheelchair track and field athlete – placed second in the shot put and fifth in the 100M.
“The 2022 State Meet will go down as one of the best ever for the Barron Golden Bears’ track and field team,” proud coach Dave Seis said. “The competition at State is extremely high, and for many athletes, the goal is to make the podium, which means they finished in the top six. We are extremely proud that all of our athletes were able to make the podium in all of their events.
“The coaching staff would like to thank the parents and fans that supported the team all season, the district for helping us throughout the season, and our athletes, in particular our seniors, for a fantastic season.”
Peterson’s championship run came Friday evening.
“Fran came into the State Meet seeded fourth in the 3200, but this seeding is based strictly on sectional times,” Seis said. “Throughout the season, Peterson had posted the top time in the state at this distance, so we knew she had a great chance to win.
“Fran was up against great competition, including the defending state champion, MiKaela Helling of Two Rivers. The 3200 consists of eight laps and Peterson ran those laps perfectly.
“Helling, freshman Faith Wehman of New Berlin Eisenhower and Peterson separated themselves from the pack early on,” the coach said. “Peterson tucked in third place for the first seven laps. It was pretty clear watching Fran run that she was running comfortably and she was just waiting for the right opportunity to move into the lead.
“With about 200 meters left, Fran hit the gas pedal and cruised past the other two runners to claim the state championship!”
Quite amazingly, of the 128 laps run by the 16 girls in the Div. 2 3200, Peterson’s final lap time of 1:13.16 was the fasted.
“Peterson ran a new personal best of 10:49.77, improving on the school record she set earlier in the year,” Seis said. “Peterson claims Barron’s first state title in track and field since Jenna Swant won the 1600 and 3200 titles in 1995.”
Peterson nearly pulled off what Swant did 27 years earlier, placing second in the 1600 on a wet Saturday afternoon at La Crosse.
“Our final highlight for the meet once again involved Fran,” Seis said. “Peterson was again competing against the defending state champion, this time being sophomore Nora Gremban of Northland Pines.
“Fran ran against Nora last season in the 800M and had to compete against her at the sectional meet (this year), so she knew what she was up against. At the start of the race, Gremban jumped out to a huge lead. Peterson maintained her discipline and slowly started to gain as the laps counted down.
“On the final lap, Gremban started to slow down and Peterson started to gain. On the final straightaway, Peterson was closing quickly but Gremban’s lead was a bit too much. Peterson finished in second place with a time of 5:05.96.”
Gremban won in 5:01.62 but had a 10.29-second lead to begin the final lap. Peterson covered the final 400 meters in a blazingly fast 1:11.96 to cut the final margin to 4.34 seconds. The only quicker lap of the race was Gremban’s first (1:10.22).
Shipley got the Bears off to a great start on Friday afternoon, competing in one of the first events of the State Meet.
“Our first athlete to compete was sophomore Grant Shipley in the wheelchair shot put,” Seis said. “Shipley came into the event seeded second and was able to deliver when it counted. Shipley threw 20’11”, which earned him second place in the State.
“Grant has been steadily improving throughout the season and was consistently throwing over 20 feet by the time the postseason started. Senior Josh Jundt of Indian Trail won the event with a new state record of 25’ 11.5”, which is not much farther than Grant’s best throw of the season, which was 22’8”. With two more years to go, and with a great first year of competition under his belt, Grant now sees how good he can be in the years to come.”
Shipley competed on the track Saturday in the 100-meter race.
“Grant was up against some amazing athletes and was competing in the fastest heat,” coach Seis said. “Grant overcame a slow start but put the hammer down in the second part of the race to post a new personal best time of 25.11 seconds, which earned him fifth place overall.”
Travis Becker, a senior from Wisconsin Lutheran, won the state title in 19.91 seconds. The top four places all went seniors and juniors.
“Shipley’s combined 12 points earned him fifth place overall in the team standings, with Indian Trail Academy coming in first with 36 points,” Seis said. “Grant earned some extremely valuable experience this season and was able to handle the pressure of doing everything for the first time extremely well.
“We are excited about what the future holds for Grant.”
Halverson showed her versatility at the state meet, first qualifying for 100M hurdle finals on a gorgeous Friday, then running through rain to place fourth on Saturday.
“Hailee was making her second trip to State in the 100M high hurdles and was hoping to build off of the experience she gained as a freshman,” the coach said. “Halverson’s first task was to make it through the preliminary round.
“Her time of 15.93 seconds in the prelims was good enough for eighth place, which did advance her to the final round on Saturday.
“The excitement continued on Saturday, with Halverson returning to the track to run in the finals. The weather on Saturday was much different than Friday, with clouds and light rain in the area. Halverson not only had to contend with a very strong field of competitors, but she also had to cope with rain that started to fall just as she was getting ready to run.
“Halverson was able to tune everything out and delivered a great race, finishing in fourth place with a time of 16.15 seconds,” the coach said. “Halverson’s technique improved and became more consistent throughout the season, and the experience she has gained really helped her to perform well at the highest level.”
Brie Eckerman, a junior from Mauston, won the Div. 2 title in 15.63 seconds – clearing the field by 0.23 seconds.
“Halverson and Peterson were able to score 23 team points, which placed them in sixth place overall, trailing the eventual team champion Shorewood, who scored 38 points,” Seis said. “With both Halverson and Peterson returning next season, we are extremely excited to see what can happen next year.”
Kappel, a senior, made school history on Friday afternoon in the Div. 2 boys pole vault.
“Kappel was up against stiff competition, including several vaulters from our part of the state,” coach Seis said. “Kappel came into the State Meet with a personal best of 13’6”. He knew he would probably have to better that mark if he was going to place. Kappel was also chasing the BHS school record of 13’ 7.5”, which was set by Mike Shaide in 1983.
“Kappel had to battle some early misses but was able to stay focused and delivered an impressive height of 14’0”, which put him in sixth place overall and will put his name on the school record board.”
Timothy Chrisbaum, a senior from Pius XI Catholic in Milwaukee, cleared 14’ 6” to win the state title.
“It was very warm at this point in the day and Colin had to vault more than a dozen times throughout the event,” Seis said. “It is extremely impressive that he was able to deliver with the heat, the pressure of the competition, the pressure of trying to beat a school record and knowing that as a senior, this was his final opportunity.
“As the only senior competing at State for the Bears, it was a fantastic way to end Colin’s high school career.”
Kappel earned 3 team points with his sixth place finish. Shorewood’s boys won the Div. 2 team title with 46 points, edging Lodi by a single point.
Kappel, Peterson and Halverson also qualified for last year’s State Meet. Peterson placed fifth in the 800M run in 2021 (an event she did not compete in this postseason). Kappel ran with Barron’s 4x100 relay team that placed eighth, while Halverson finished 16th in the 100M hurdles a year ago.