When Verona senior Jackson Acker unleashed his second to last throw in the discus, it looked like a moon shot in the Paul Frank Invitational on Friday, June 4, in Sun Prairie.

When his throw finally touched the ground, he had set a new Sun Prairie track facility record of 201 feet, 6 inches to win the championship.

“It feels great to break 200 again,” Acker said. “I know it’s something I can replicate. It’s just giving me more confidence going farther into the season into regionals, sectionals and state.”

Acker set the school record in the discus two weeks ago with a throw of 203-10.

He helped the Wildcats finish second place Friday with 141 points. Sun Prairie racked up 156 points to win the six-team invitational.

“We wanted to see where we really stack up in these key matchups to see who is going to compete in this or that come the tournament,” Verona boys track coach Joff Pedretti said. “This is really our only test to do that. For me, that was more important than how we do in the team standings. It was more important to see how we rise to this competition.”

Verona was coming off a Big Eight Conference dual meet against Madison West where they won 12 events on Tuesday, April 1, at Verona Area High School.

Paul Frank Invitational

Acker had a busy night, having a hand in winning four events. He won the shot put with a throw of 56-2 ½, the 100-meter dash in 10.93 seconds and ran the anchor leg on the winning 400 relay.

Acker matched his personal-best throw in the shot put.

“I thought it was farther honestly,” he said. “Not a bad throw. Coming into the meet and looking at the seeding I was seeded first in these events. I knew I could do it. It’s just a matter of me being able to find my throws.”

Verona had 13 top-four finishes. It marked the largest track meet in two years for Verona. Most of the meets this year were Big Eight Conference duals to limit the size of the crowds because of the COVID-19 pandemic.

“We have had guys say they haven’t competed in front of a crowd like this in two years,” Pedretti said. “Even getting into that mental state is important.”

This was the first meet where the Wildcats competed in a meet with more than two teams.

“In an invite you will get challenged in all of the events,” Pedretti said. “When you are going up against an individual team there are some events that are really good where you will be challenged and others that are not a focus of that team. You might go a week or two in a certain event without getting challenged.”

Verona junior Collin Stubitsch finished first in the 110 high hurdles (15.98) and the 300 intermediate hurdles (41.66).

“It’s one of those events when it starts clicking you can drop some massive time really quick,” Pedretti said. “So much of it is technique. It’s not just speed.”

Junior Aidan Manning won the 3,200 with a time of 9 minutes, 35.24 seconds. The Wildcats had three of the top five in the race. Sophomore Blake Oleson took third (10:06.40) and sophomore Max Metcalf placed fifth (10:28.62).

The Wildcats’ 400 relay team of senior Stanley Maradiaga, freshman Michael Valitchka, senior Graham Stier and Acker won with a time of 43.58. The time was 0.3 of a second away from setting the school record.

“I know we can go faster,” Acker said. “It felt really good being able to see us compete against this good competition.”

Pedretti said the 400 relay is on the cusp of setting the school record.

“They definitely have some mojo going,” Pedretti said.

The Wildcats’ 1,600 relay team of Stier, Stubitsch, Valitchka and Maradiaga won with a time of 3:30.96.

Maradiaga finished second in the 200 (22.99) and the Wildcats’ 3,200 relay team of Nathan Simon, Ryan Cassiday, Kendall Riddle and Michael Leiberg took third (9:02.02). Caleb Tollefson took fourth in the 300 hurdles (45.12) and Harvey Milam and Tommy Van Handel tied for fourth in the high jump (5-6). Van Handel added a fifth-place finish in the triple jump (38-10).

Madison West

The Wildcats swept the top three sports in the 110 hurdles in a conference dual meet against Madison West on June 1 in Verona.

Stubitsch won the 110 hurdles (16.96)followed by Tollefson, who took second (18.68). Senior Chris Gonzalez placed third (19.02). Stubitsch also won the 300 hurdles (423.31).

Acker won the 200 (23.58), shot put (56-2 ½) and discus (188-6).

Oleson won the 1,600 (4:44.39) and Metcalf took second (4:51.90). Manning took first in the 800 (1:58.76). Manning teamed with Maradiaga, Stubitsch and Stier to win the 1,600 relay (3:33.52).

The Wildcats’ 400 relay team of Maradiaga, Valitchka, Stier and Acker finished first with a time of 43.53.

Joe Remiker won the long jump (19-9) and Maradiaga took second (19-6 ½). Van Handel took first in the high jump (5-8) and won the triple jump (37-10 ¼).

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