La CROSSE, Wis. - Mercer's D'kota Engler was no stranger to pole vaulting inside thanks to this year's brutal winter that never seemed to end.
So it was no surprise that he cleared 13-0 inside at Friday's WIAA Division 3 state track-and-field meet at the University of Wisconsin La Crosse's Veterans Memorial Field Sports Complex.
Strong storms moved through La Crosse just after the Division 2 and 3 portion of the meet started Friday afternoon. The meet was stopped 700 meters into the 3,200 relay and just after field events started as heavy rain combined with lightning to force the clearing of the grandstands. The meet restarted at about 5 p.m. and went on well after dark.
Engler's 13-0 vault tied a school record. He ended up finishing ninth due to two misses all the way back to the opening height of 12-0. The fifth-place finisher also cleared 13-0.
"Unfortunately they count back to the misses, but it was a great meet for him, tying the school record in the last meet of the year," Mercer coach Bob Schenk said.
Mercer is used to vaulting in unorthodox places. Its home pit is in the school parking lot.
"I would have rather done it outside," Engler said. "It cleared up nice after the race. I've been used to the bad weather all year, though."
He was happy with clearing 13-0 at the state meet.
"I think I could have done 13-6; I just barely missed it," he said.
Marathon's Devan Gertschen won the pole vault at 14-0.
Lexi Engler's experience at state isn't over yet. She will compete in the finals of the 200-meter dash after finishing 10th in Friday's preliminaries. She ran it in 26.86 under the lights. Alexandra Hutchison of Columbus Catholic at the fastest time in 25.69.
She will also compete in the triple jump this morning. That event is held all in one day, like the pole vault and shot put.
Engler didn't advance to the finals in the 100 dash. But she did her run her fastest time of the year in the event at 13.14.She finished 13th in Friday's prelims.
Mercer freshman Sydney Thompson made her first trip to state. She finished in 13th with a put of 33-7.5. That was below what she did to advance to state, but it didn't diminish Thompson getting to state as a freshman.
Algoma's Kennedy Blahnik won the state shot put title for the fourth straight year with a put of 48-8. She owns the state record with a 49-1.5 from last year.