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Pete's Point: Porta, Krecklau valuable to Tigers

Medical setbacks have ended the playing careers of many athletes. But physical setbacks helped introduce two standout senior athletes to track and field at Pine River-Backus High School. Both Megan Porta and Henry Krecklau are accomplished athlet...

Medical setbacks have ended the playing careers of many athletes.

But physical setbacks helped introduce two standout senior athletes to track and field at Pine River-Backus High School.

Both Megan Porta and Henry Krecklau are accomplished athletes in sprints, relays and field events for the Tigers. They've won dozens of event titles in their short track careers, including each capturing three event titles at the Northland and Northwoods Conference meets on Thursday, May 7, in Walker.

"Megan and Henry are both great leaders as far setting an example with their practice habits and competitive focus in meets," said PR-B coach Tom Demars.

Demars added that the success of Porta and Krecklau has also benefited the PR-B program as both the boys and girls squads have grown in numbers, and moved up the team standings in competitions.

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"Megan has been one of only a few girls on the team the past few years, but I think we're adding numbers in the girls' program partly because of some of the recognition she has received," said Demars, who added that Krecklau is also an inspiration to teammates. "Henry is very competitive in all of his events because of his work ethic."

Porta debuted as a freshman

Porta joined the PR-B track team as a freshman after missing the volleyball and basketball seasons following surgery on a benign tumor on her femur.

"I didn't want to miss (playing a sport) for my entire school year, so I wanted to do a spring sport," she recalled. "It was a toss up between softball and track."

Porta chose track. And it was a good decision as she quickly enjoyed success - advanced to state in discus in just her second season.

"Megan was a bit of an unknown to me because I never had her in class," Demars said. "But it was clear early on that she would have success. Megan is competitive and has worked hard to improve in three sports, not just track. I think she has probably put more time in the weight room than any other athlete at PR-B right now."

As a sophomore, her fifth-place finish at state marked the first time in more than a decade that a PR-B girl reached the podium at state.

"I got the hang of (discus), and my throws went from 90 feet my first year to 114 feet," Porta said.

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Porta was excited about her junior year, but admitted that she experienced an "off year" and eventually missed returning to state after finishing third at the section meet.

"This year is going well," she said. "I've worked on my technique, and I'm throwing closer to 123 and 126 feet."

Porta's best discus toss this spring was 126 feet, 7 inches.

"I would like to get the discus school record," Porta said of the top PR-B girls' mark of 131 feet. "I'm also shooting for 34 feet in the shot put."

Porta already has the long jump school record of 16 feet, 7.5 inches, and according to Demars she is getting close to the record in the discus and shot put.

"Another throw in the (126-7) range will qualify Megan for state where she could place high," he said. "I think it will be harder for her to advance to state in the shot put and long jump, but she could make it in one or both with good days at subsections and sections."

Krecklau joined track as a junior

Last spring, Krecklau switched to track last year after it became apparent that he couldn't play baseball because of previous injuries in other sports.

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"I dislocated my right arm and broke my collar bone," he recalled. "I couldn't throw or hit, so I couldn't play baseball. I had never been in track, but I decided to go out."

Krecklau enjoyed a successful first year on the team. He won four events at the Subsection 6A meet, and eventually advanced to state with the Tigers' 4x200-meter relay.

"Going to state (with the relay) was neat," Kreklau said. "And winning four events at the subsection was fun. But I was frustrated that our team finished one point behind Sauk Centre/Grey Eagle for second place (at the subsection) to advance to the section meet."

That late-season success motivated Krecklau for success this spring with more than 20 individual and relay event wins.

"I'm a lot more calm this year because I know what to expect at meets," Krecklau said. "Our (boys) team is also better this year. That helps because our whole team pushes each other."

Krecklau is currently part of three school records - 11.27 seconds in the 100 dash, 42 feet in the triple jump, and as a member of the 4x200 relay which set the mark last season.

"Henry is also very close to the 200 dash record," said Demars, who isn't surprised by Krecklau's success. "After coaching Henry in football since ninth grade, I knew when he came out for track that he would have success. After the big year he had in football last fall, I had high expectations for this track season."

Krecklau now has a good chance of returning to state competition.

"Henry's current times and distances put him right up with the best in our section so we're hoping he can qualify for state in multiple events, including the relay," Demars said.

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