RBHS senior Quinn Kahle finished fourth in the 100-meter dash on April 8 at the Bulldog Relays. She also placed second in the long jump and third in the triple jump. | Ian McLeod

Despite chronic pain, senior Quinn Kahle can smile again about competing the maximum four events in meets for the Riverside-Brookfield High School girls track and field team. 

“I think it’s more fun because you’re just doing as much as you can to help,” Kahle said.

Kahle not only has returned from being diagnosed with three cracks in her spine as a junior. She was among the top performers April 8 at the 42nd annual Bulldog Relays. The RBHS girls finished fourth in varsity events and fourth in the combined score.

Kahle was most excited about her second-place long jump of 4.82 meters/15 feet, 9.75 inches, her longest by 6.25 inches.

“When it’s nice out and stuff, I think it’s a good time to [get personal records]. If I keep improving, that’s all I want,” Kahle said. 

Seniors Bryce Pacourek (1,600-meter run in 5:33.09) and Ava Connerty (100 high hurdles in 17.13) were event champions. 

Connerty tied the school-record time even with a far-from-perfect race. Her third-place 51.35 in the 300 low hurdles was a personal best.

“I’ve been wanting to break [the 100 hurdles record] since my sophomore year and I’m so excited I matched it,” Connerty said. “The last few hurdles I messed up. I had a few extra steps so I’m excited to see what’ll happen when I fully get my steps down.” 

Kahle also was third in triple jump (9.56m/31-4.25) and fourth in the 100 (13.69) and with Jenny Thomas, Jojo Rodriguez and Alexandra Dominguez in the varsity 400 relay (54.02).

Kahle was an all-conference high jumper as a sophomore and usually competed three field events and one running event. Kahle said her spine injury occurred from overuse competing high jump and pole vault while also training for club gymnastics. 

“I think I have a pretty good pain tolerance. I kind of assumed my back hurts like everyone else’s and I didn’t say much about it until it got to the point when I couldn’t walk,” Kahle said. 

Kahle returned to track action late last April but only as a runner and no field events. She continued with long jump but has had to stop pole vault and high jump. April 8 was only her third triple jump competition.

The back injury is permanent, Kahle said. Part of her focus as an athlete is overcoming constant pain, which she says she’s learned to tolerate and reduce through six months of physical therapy. 

“I kind of feel it all the time but I’ve kind of gotten used to it because I’ve been dealing with it for a year and a half now,” Kahle said. “It’s kind of a static pain that I’ve gotten used to so I don’t really need medications. If it’s hurting, I can generally get it to stop within the next day.”

Also taking third were the junior varsity 1,600 relay (Emma Acamovic, Sophia Richter, Lara Huns, Melissa Perez in 4:52.58) and the JV 1,600 sprint medley relay (Sophia Maletta, Mia Linares, Huns, Mia Weisman in 5:54.38). Gianna Gelb was fourth in the 1,600 (5:52.55).

RBHS boys track and field

Senior Zack Gaynor was part of the Bulldogs’ 3,200 relay that just missed qualifying for state in 2022. 

On April 8, the lineup of Gaynor, William Kallas, Hayden Marrs and Jack O’Brien had another anxious moment during the 52nd annual Bulldog Relays when the baton was dropped during the final exchange, but O’Brien was able to pick it up and race to the win.

O’Brien completed the Bulldogs’ victory in 8:17.24 and Marrs, Gaynor, Jackson Drumheller and Kallas also prevailed in the varsity 1,600 relay (3:37.82). RBHS finished second in varsity events and fourth in the combined score.

All-stater O’Brien, Gaynor, Kallas and Marrs were among the Bulldogs who helped the boys cross country team win the Class 2A state championship in November.

The momentum has carried over to the Bulldogs thinking about qualifying for state in the 3,200 relay among other events. 

“[State cross country] definitely made us way more motivated coming into track, and there’s been a lot more training in general,” Gaynor said. “This time last year we were not in as good shape as we are now. We’re hitting some of the times we were hitting at the end of last season.”

Junior Luke Smithing was second in his 2022 state-qualifying event, the 300 intermediate hurdles (42.37). Kallas (3.50m/11-6 in pole vault) and the sophomore 1,600 relay (Henry Walker, Diego Lopez-Molina, Brady Norman, Asa Kahle in 3:49.93) also were second.

O’Brien (1,600 in 4:30.33), Norman (3,200 in 9:50.48), the varsity 400 relay (Muhammad Salem, Sean Rau, Samuel Elusoji, Drumheller in 45.67); the freshman 1,600 relay (Quinn Hendricks, Sam Lee, John Evans, Clayton Dosek in 4:08.18); and the frosh-soph 1,600 sprint medley relay (Mateo Santini, Wayne Torrens, Hendricks, Asa Kahle in 3:57.59) were third. 

Elusoji (11.06m/36-3.5 in triple jump) and the varsity 1,600 sprint medley relay (Luke Schmitz, Charlie Yager, Eamon Ryan, William Sessler in 3:56.35) were fourth.