Wachters enjoy special bond

Sunday, April 6, 2008
AARON EISENHAUER ~ aeisenhauer@semissourian.com Notre Dame's Joe Froemsdorf does his best to launch himself over a ten foot bar in the pole vault competition on Saturday, April 5, 2008 at the Jackson track and field meet.

JACKSON — Sophomore Landon Wachter took part in two-a-day track-and-field practices even before reaching high school.

Her father, Jackson coach Steve Wachter, used to run her at the track most summer days between 6:30 and 8:30 a.m., and again between 7:30 and 9 p.m.

Those difficult double sessions, which Landon Wachter said were not much fun, are paying off for her these days.

Wachter was awarded the girls most valuable player award for the running events at the Jackson Invitational on Saturday.

She finished first in the 100-meter hurdles with a time of 15.70 seconds. She finished first in the 800, crossing the line in 2:21.14, a meet record.

She also helped the Jackson 800 relay team to second place and the 1,600 relay team to second place.

"It feels really good," Wachter said. "I kind of had in my head that I wanted to get [MVP], and so to get it I was real happy and pleased."

AARON EISENHAUER ~ aeisenhauer@semissourian.com Jackson's Asha Buehler flew over the sand during the girls long jump competition Saturday at the Jackson Invitiational. For results, see Page 4B.

Wachter's effort helped the Jackson girls to a second-place team finish, behind only Festus.

Wachter was not the only Indians athlete to earn an MVP honor. Senior Jacob Bullinger, who plans to throw discus next year at the University of Missouri, won the MVP for the boys field events after placing first in the discus (157 feet, 10.25 inches).

Wachter said her father got her competing in the sport when she was 5 years old. By age 8, she had started competing at AAU meets in St. Louis.

Wachter already has had success at the high school level. She took sixth in the 400 (58.50) in the Class 4 state meet last year.

AARON EISENHAUER ~ aeisenhauer@semissourian.com Perryville's Chris Koesterer slips over the bar during the boy's pole vault competition on Saturday, April 5, 2008 at the Jackson track and field meet.

"I want to get better than sixth at state, and hopefully place at state in a couple more than just one," she said.

Wachter, who also plays on the Jackson girls basketball team, likes having her father as her coach.

She said one of her favorite moments of their coaching/athlete relationship was when her father came up and hugged her right after she ran at state last year.

"I like it a lot just because I'm used to it and they all know he's my dad," Wachter said. "He treats me the same. Of course, he expects more out of me. ... He has confidence in me. And seeing he has confidence in me kind of puts some confidence in myself. If it wasn't for him, I don't think I would run as good as I do right now."

AARON EISENHAUER ~ aeisenhauer@semissourian.com Participants from regional high schools launch over the hurdles on Saturday, April 5, 2008 at the Jackson track and field meet.

Steve Wachter called coaching his daughter both a tough and great situation. He feels fortunate because not too many parents get the chance to coach their child in high school. He added that he has a good coaching staff that makes things easier.

He was pleased with his daughter's performance, but still sees areas where she needs to improve as the season progresses.

"I'm pretty realistic about everything," coach Watcher said. "We've competed for a number of years and you always want them to have a chance to win an award. But we know from week to week things change and competition levels get tougher and tougher. It's a great thing for her and for me, and I feel proud for her. We're going to have to work on all aspects of the game. We've got to work on both her stamina and speed."

Bullinger, the boys field MVP from Jackson, has not been participating in track and field nearly as long as Wachter. He began his freshman year.

AARON EISENHAUER ~ aeisenhauer@semissourian.com Kelly sophomore Londyn Backfisch tries to make it over the 4' 10" bar in the high jump, but cannot on Saturday, April 5, 2008 at the Jackson track and field meet.

But he has made the most of his time in the sport. He enjoyed a strong day Saturday, finishing first in discus, and coming away with fifth in the shot put.

"I think that [winning MVP in field] is pretty cool," Bullinger said. "I just like going out there and helping support the team and trying to do the best I can to try to get as many team points. And we really stress doing good as a team."

Bullinger, who also played football for the Indians, said he has spoken with the Missouri track coach about walking onto the team next year.

"I've already contacted the throwing coach and I'm one of his only recruits," Bullinger said. "I won't have to try out. I'm pretty much already on the team."

He said he started track to stay busy and involved. But he really enjoyed it and discovered a passion for it. He has participated in a number of AAU meets and throwing camps, including the one at Southeast Missouri State and Missouri, during previous summers.

Perryville's Kris Cottner, who has signed to play football at Southeast Missouri State next year, won the boys running events MVP honor.

Cottner took first in the 400 (50.93) and second in the 200 (22.50).

Cottner finished seventh in the 400 last year at the Class 3 state meet. He said he'd like to win it or make the top three this year. He's set a goal of making state in the 200 and being all-state on a relay team.

"I was happy about my performance today," Cottner said. "We finally got a meet with some good weather and I'm happy with the team for what we did. We turned in some good times today."

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