Wisconsin News

Behind the scenes work makes WIAA State Track and Field Meet possible

LA CROSSE, Wis. - The weather held off long enough for the W-I-A-A State Track and Field meet to get off and running this weekend.

Thousands of fans are packed into Veterans Memorial Stadium at UW-La Crosse to see their athletes run.

Organizers are expecting 18,000 to 20,000 people to come to the meet this weekend.

While the attention is on the athletes, it's what you don't see on the track that makes this event run.

All eyes are on the athletes competing for their chance at a state title.


But it's what goes on off the track that makes the WIAA State Track and Field Meet possible.

"A lot of behind the scenes stuff you don't even realize," said UW-L Meet Coordinator Josh Bucholtz.

From extra bleachers, down to the details of making sure there are four safety pins for each of the close to 2800 athlete race numbers.

"We hauled in about 43 sets of bleachers from around the city of La Crosse and theĀ  area," said Bucholtz.

"They put the right number of pins in everybody's packet and the corresponding numbers," said WIAA Meet Director Marcy Thurwachter.

But the work doesn't end there.

Owner of Games People Play, Paul Cochlin provides all the customized t-shirts for the event.

"There's about 3500 t-shirts and we'll probably letter about 3,000," said Cochlin.

Out in front of the stadium is another piece to the puzzle where the meet programs are sold by volunteers.

"We've probably gone through 15 boxes about 80 programs a box I would guess," said volunteer Nick Beitz.

And those ticket have to come from somewhere.

"For championship Saturday, we've printed 9,900 tickets. For Division One we've printed 6,300 tickets and for Division Two and Three, we have 6,000 tickets," said ticket coordinator Karen Fencl.

"For the pink ones, we've been through about 799 a person, so it's been a lot of people," said UW-L Army ROTC ticket booth volunteer Stephen Brunshdile.

It also takes a lot of work to make sure the athletes stay hydrated.

"The ice machine is keeping up, so we've got about 150 pounds in there right now," said UW-L Athletic Training Director Mark Gibson.

"Those are 20 gallon coolers, so we've got 400 gallons of water out on the track at any given time," said Gibson.

It's a multi-faceted effort all to make moments like those at the State track meet possible.

Residence Life at UW-la Crosse also has a part to play in pulling off this event.

Bucholtz said all the dorms on campus are completely full with athletes and coaches.

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