Justin Kretchmer | Athlete of the Week

Justin Kretchmer, the R-T Athlete of the Week, takes a shot at the state record for Waterloo in the high jump that was moved inside due to rainy weather. (submitted photos)

Waterloo high jumper Justin Kretchmer is this week’s Republic-Times Athlete of the Week.

Kretchmer capped off a stellar senior season and high school track career Saturday at the Class 2A IHSA Boys Track Meet. The recent WHS graduate and University of Kentucky commit broke the high jump state record of 6’9″ with a jump of 7-feet and took second at state. The week before at sectionals, Kretchmer broke a personal record and school record with a jump of 7’1″.

Below is this week’s article highlighting Waterloo track’s trip to state and final hurrah of three of the school’s greatest track athletes:

Waterloo track ends era at state

Merriam-Webster’s Dictionary defines “elite” as “the best of a class,” the very same definition used to describe Waterloo’s three senior track stars. The elite group of Justin Kretchmer, Brendan Duncan and Josh Rodenberg was, in fact, regarded as the best trio track athletes in Class 2A going into this past weekend’s state tournament as well.

Waterloo track seniors, pictured, from left, Brendan Duncan, Justin Kretchmer and Josh Rodenberg ended one of the greatest eras in WHS track history at the state meet Saturday.

“Those three seniors were great to have,” WHS track coach Larry Huffman told the Republic-Times after Saturday’s meet. “We will miss them. It is rare to have a group of that caliber of athletes like them all in one class.”

With the trio’s performances, WHS took 15th place in the IHSA Class 2A boys state track meet at Eastern Illinois University’s O’Brien Stadium. Cahokia and East St. Louis High Schools took first and second ,respectively.

But with an elite status, comes elite expectations. As last year’s state high jump champion, Justin Kretchmer had high hopes after a career best jump of 7’1” in the sectional meet the week prior.

The University of Kentucky commit ended up jumping 7-feet, breaking the state record of 6’9” and missing first place by just one inch Saturday. Alex King of Massac County won the Class 2A state title with a jump of 7’1”, two inches better than his personal record jump.

“Justin wanted to get one more extra inch,” Huffmann said, adding that at his 7’1” jump the week before, he still nudged the bar.

Waterloo’s Brendan Duncan competes in Saturday’s Class 2A state meet in the shot put.

Walking away a bit disappointed as well but still with an unstoppable senior and high school track career in the books, fellow classmate and Stanford University bound Brendan Duncan did not break the state discus record like he had hoped.

“He struggled a little bit on Friday (in the preliminaries),” Huffman explained. “That night we worked on a couple of things and were pretty confident (going into the finals).”

But the rain on Saturday was a definite setback for Duncan on the throwing events, while Kretchmer was able to jump indoors and Rodenberg’s race beat the rain by a half hour.

Duncan took fifth place in both the shotput and discus, with throws of 55’3” and 170’09”, respectively.

Rodenberg, who committed to Bellarmine University just weeks ago, missed placing and receiving All-State honors in the 3,200-meter run by just four seconds Saturday. As the top nine in each event receive medalist honors, Rodenberg took 12th with a personal record and school record time of 9:34.82.

Josh Rodenberg ran a Waterloo school record time in the 3,200-meter run in Saturday’s state meet.

Saturday’s Class 2A IHSA Boys State Track Meet brought a close to track and field one of the most elite classes in Waterloo track history.

In other track news…

Red Bud High School long distance runner Brittney Burmester, who lit up the cross country scene this fall and continued to keep the fire burning during this spring’s track season, capped off her stellar senior season last Saturday in the Class 1A IHSA state track meet, taking first place in the 3,200-meter run. Burmester ran a 11:05.39 at Eastern Illinois University’s O’Brien Stadium, she also took third in the 1,600-meter run.

Dupo senior Matt McDonald also competed in this weekend’s IHSA Boys Track Meet, taking 10th in the Class 1A triple jump event with a jump of 42’2.75″. McDonald qualified for state last year in the long jump, high jump and triple jump. He ends his successful track career with plans to attend the University of Missouri.

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