LA CROSSE — Algoma’s Kennedy Blahnik sure knows how to draw a crowd.
The Algoma thrower showed up at the Division 3 state track and field meet Friday at the University of Wisconsin-La Crosse with one thing in mind — win a fourth straight state title in the shot put.
Early on she recorded a throw of 48 feet, 8 inches and that was all she needed as she won her seventh state title overall.
“I opened up with a really good throw,” Blahnik said. “I was hoping it would lead to a 50 or another record, but that was OK.”
Blahnik entered the spring as an obvious favorite to win the state title, but she broke her right foot in a state semifinal basketball game and wasn’t sure what her situation would be for the spring. After a cortisone shot, she was getting better and by mid-April she was back to work.
“It’s gotten a lot better,” Blahnik said. “I think it held me back in shot put. I’m stronger than I ever been, so I should’ve got better throws. I had to land on it, so that kind of prevented the farther distances, but I’m happy with today.”
Most likely think the Wisconsin track and field recruit could have won with a broken foot, but she has never thought winning a state title is automatic. She has worked hard with her father and coach, Dean Blahnik, who was pushing her for 50 feet.
“My dad was like, ‘That was probably your best series all year,'” Blahnik said. “He’s like, ‘Get after that 50. Dad I’m trying. I want to get it too.'”
Blahnik enters Saturday as a heavy favorite to win the discus. In fact, her seed throw of 168-05 would be the No. 1 seed throw in the Division 2 and 3 boys. Still, she’s not banking on an automatic win.
“I know nothing’s guaranteed,” she said. “I’m just hoping to get a mark and build off of it.”
Blahnik’s stellar career will end Saturday and she has wowed a lot of people. The ovation she received after she was announced as the state title winner on the podium is something that means a lot.
“It was incredible, that whole cheer throughout the grandstand,” Blahnik said. “I’m going to miss it. Hopefully, I’ll get it (Saturday).
“It’s been a great four years, no matter what happens (Saturday). I started throwing when I was seven. That would be an amazing thing to accomplish.”
Wrightstown’s Draxler rolls
Wrightstown’s Bonnie Draxler is seeking to become the fourth girls athlete to win 10 state individual titles and Friday she took the first step, winning the Division 2 100 (12.11) and the 400 (57.56) preliminaries.
In the 100, she won by .42 seconds.
“It felt pretty good,” she said. “It’s really nice, perfect temperature, no wind.”
Draxler ran the 100 in 12.05 in sectionals and the Division 2 state record is 11.99, so she’s not far from maybe breaking the mark Saturday in the final. However, she’s not worried about a record, as she said, “My main goal is to win.”
Saturday, she will try to win the 400 and pole vault each for the fourth year in a row and repeat in the 100. Three finals could wear some athletes down, but Draxler is used to the work.
“I’m used to it with so many meets over the years, so I try to give each equal amounts,” she said.
Cohen misses finals
Seymour’s Sandy Cohen was the defending state champ in the Division 2 boys triple jump, but the Marquette basketball recruit didn’t even make finals. Cohen finished 11th with a leap of 42 feet, 1/4 inch. He still has the long jump and the 300 hurdles to compete in.
Springs relay wins title
The St. Mary Springs 3,200-meter girls relay team won the Division 3 state title for a second year in a row with a time of 9:32.12. The team was comprised of Melanie Schneider, Liz Bohn, Paige Case and Alannah Schmitz.
Case was the newcomer on this year’s relay after Abby Busse graduated last year.
Lourdes Academy placed second in the relay with a time of 9:35.98. The Knights’ runners were Emily Foley, Angela Moore, Maddy Reed and Crystal Combs.
Follow Doug Ritchay on Twitter @dougritchay