Area athletes ready to put talents on display at state meet

Four of six local qualifiers making first state appearances
Shawano’s Tori DePerry competes in the high jump during the Bay Conference Meet in De Pere on May 13. (MORGAN RODE | LEADER)Clintonville’s Allysin Booth competes in the 100 hurdles during the Division 2 Oconto Falls Regional on May 20. (MORGAN RODE | LEADER)Bonduel’s Canaan Szoszorek competes in the shot put during the Division 2 Oconto Falls Regional on May 20. (MORGAN RODE | LEADER)
Morgan Rode
Leader Sports Editor

Athletes work the entire spring to get to the state track and field championships in La Crosse. With that time having arrived, the six local qualifiers are ready to give it their all and enjoy the experience as best they can.

Just two of the local qualifiers — Shawano’s Tori DePerry and Clintonville’s Allysin Booth — have competed at state before. Shawano’s Michael Klement, Bonduel’s Canaan Szoszorek and Jessie LaBerge and Menominee Indian’s Darius Wayka will all be taking part in their first state meets.

DePerry, a senior, heads into the high jump competition with a seed mark of 5 feet, 1 inch. DePerry qualified in the same event as a sophomore, clearing 5-0 to tie for 16th.

DePerry, who will miss Shawano’s graduation ceremony to compete, has a goal to set a new personal record by clearing 5-2, and hopefully 5-4. But most of all, she hopes to enjoy her final opportunity to compete in the event.

“I am going to focus on my goal but in my mind I know I’m going to continue to have fun as well,” DePerry said. “It’s my last time ever jumping and I have nothing to lose.”

Booth, also a senior, will make her fourth consecutive trip to state in the 100-meter hurdles.

She placed 13th in the event as a freshman and third as a sophomore and junior. She heads to state this year with a seed time of 15.77 seconds.

“For me, qualifying for state again is exciting and I am super happy that I am able to finish off my track and field experience at state again,” Booth said. “My goal heading into this last meet is to just have fun. I would like to use all the hard work these past four years and just have fun with it.”

Klement, a junior, may head into the weekend’s pole vault competition without any state experience of his own to look back on, but he has a valuable resource in his corner in Shawano graduate Payden Buck, who qualified for state in the pole vault last year.

Like DePerry, Klement is not as interested in earning a specific place at state.

“Going to state has always been a goal that I’ve worked for and it feels amazing to finally achieve that goal,” Klement said. “My goals for the state meet would be to enjoy and learn from others around me as well to achieve a personal best jump.”

Klement enters state with a seed mark of 13-0.

For lifelong friends Szoszorek and LaBerge, qualifying for the state meet as seniors is a dream come true.

LaBerge not only gets to compete at state to end her high school career, but also could make school history in the process. LaBerge owns a seed time of 47.4 seconds in the 300 hurdles, just tenths of a second behind the school record of 47.0.

She knows controlling her emotions will be key to running a good race and having a shot at the record.

“I’m going to focus on not getting too overwhelmed by the setting of it all,” said LaBerge, who noted coach James Westrich helped him over the years. “I have run this race many times before and I know what I have to do. I’m just going to try and stay calm and enjoy the moment.”

With his biggest high school goal of reaching state accomplished, Szoszorek hopes to improve upon his school record-breaking shot put throw from sectionals. Szoszorek’s seed mark of 50-3 ranks sixth out of the 17 qualifiers in the event.

“I’m just going to go in there with a mindset of no matter how I do, I made it,” said Szoszorek, who credited Jordan Gruel for guiding him throughout high school. “So with this in mind I will be able to have as much fun as I can while also performing.”

Wayka, a senior, has quickly found the recipe for success in high school.

“It means a lot to me to qualify for the state meet,” Wayka said. “I worked hard to go because I’ve only been in shot put for a year-and-a-half.”

Despite the limited time in the sport, Wayka expects to finish in the top three. He enters the state meet with a best throw of 49-8, which ranks fourth.

Shawano will compete against other Division 1 schools. Bonduel and Clintonville are in Division 2, while Menominee Indian will compete in Division 3.