Girls track team excited for new era

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MTT News's picture
By: 
Rob Reischel
Middleton senior track standout Lauren Smith is one of the top hurdlers in the state./File photo

When it comes to filling shoes, Cory Christnovich understands he’s jumping into a pair of size 15’s. And that’s just the way he prefers it.

Christnovich is the new head coach of Middleton’s girls track and field program. Christnovich takes over for Tara Franklin, who had sensational 20-year run as the Cardinals’ boss.

But Christnovich would much rather run a program with a history of tradition and success instead of one that possesses none of those traits.

“I am very excited to take over as the girls head coach,” Christnovich said. “The program has a culture of success and it is fun to be around athletes that want to work hard in practice day in and day out to keep up that success. 

“My coaching style will be one where I help instill in the athletes a hard work ethic, but one where we have some fun to keep the practices enjoyable. Track and field is a very hard sport where you keep pushing your body each day and you need to have some fun to keep practice enjoyable.”

Christnovich should know. He’s had a lengthy run of success as a track standout and later a coach.

Christnovich was a four-year varsity athlete at Neenah High School and took fifth at state in the 110-meter high hurdles in 2001. Christnovich then ran the high hurdles at UW-Stevens Point and finished fourth at the conference meet in 2005.

Christnovich has been an assistant coach at Middleton High School since 2006 coaching hurdles, sprints and relays. When Franklin announced last fall she’d be stepping down, Christnovich felt he was ready to be the program’s gatekeeper.

“My goal is to keep Middleton as one of the top teams in the Big Eight,” Christnovich said. “Ultimately, the goal is to win the conference meet every year. This is a tough goal with the teams that are in our conference. There are also other programs with a history of success.”

But Middleton has been one of the most successful programs around, something Christnovich plans to continue.

The Cardinals had 11 top-10 finishes at state under Franklin. Middleton won a pair of state titles under Franklin in 1997-’98, and was second at state in both 1996 and 2015.

The Cardinals have also been a force in the Big Eight Conference, where they’ve won three league titles in the last nine years.

“I am very excited,” Christnovich said. “The Middleton girls program has had a long history of being a very successful.”

Middleton returns a terrific group from last year’s state runner-up team.

Senior Lauren Smith is one of the best hurdlers in the state. Smith finished second at state in the 100-meter hurdles last year and also set a new school record with her time in the preliminaries (14.82).

Seniors Hailee Milton, Hanne Andersen-Smith and Smith made up 75% of Middleton’s second place 800-meter relay team at state.

Seniors Sam Valentine, Celia Mayne, Abbey Webber and Kiara Cruz are all poised for big seasons, as well.

Middleton also hopes to get a lift from seniors Sara Gaab (hurdles), Autumn Grim (distance) and Milena Martin (distance); juniors Alyssa Lemirande (middle distance), Madeline Ace (middle distance), Betsy Hathaway (pole vault, sprints), Rachel Zander (sprints), Maya Gibson (distance), Mimi McMurray (jumps), Kallie Stafford (distance) and Madeline Pflasterer-Jennerjohn (pole vault and sprints); sophomores Autumn Delaney (sprints), Jennifer McGinnis (sprints and jumps), Juliana Castillo (hurdles), Ellie Grosspietsch (sprints), Iris Ohlrogge (distance), Erika Rader (distance), Charlotte Sue (distance) and Taylor Zietz (middle distance); and freshmen Cora Mack (sprints and jumps), Hadley Braaten (sprints and jumps), Lili Welti (sprints and jumps) and Elizabeth Pansegrau (distance).

“We have a strong senior class,” Christnovich said.  “There is a lot of energy and excitement at practice.”

And great expectations, as well.

Christnovich and his Cardinals can’t wait to begin living up to them.

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