Rossi, Rams rolls to four medals

Rossi third, fourth in final day of prep competition

Joel Reichenberger

— Soroco High School senior Jessica Rossi has been a fixture at the state track meet in Lakewood, competing in 12 events at the state meet in her four years.

She’s had good days and bad and been excited, nervous, confident and otherwise.

Friday, as she competed for the final time as a Soroco Ram, she was relaxed, resilient and, when it was all over, roaringly successful.

Rossi bowed out of the state tournament with two medals on her final day, a third-place showing in pole vault and a fourth-place finish in discus, leading the way for a four-medal day for her school.

“This is my last high school weekend competing, and I just wanted to leave it all out there,” she said. “There are always woulda, coulda, shoulda moments, but this is my last meet, and I’m at the point where I just want to enjoy it. That was pretty exciting.”

Soroco also scored medals from freshman Ben Kelley, seventh in the 800-meter run, and junior Cassie Constine, eighth in the triple jump.

Kelley earns a medal

Kelley made up for what he said was a slightly disappointing performance Thursday in the 3,200, where he placed 11th. He stuck with the lead pack for the first 600 meters Friday, then, when the top four finishers broke away, he hung in the midst of the new group, fighting for his first state track medal.

“I missed out on the medal yesterday, but I got it today,” said Kelley, battling an injury sustained a week ago. “It means a lot. I put a lot of hours in to get here, and it feels great to get a medal out of it.”

He’ll get one more crack at it in Saturday’s 1,600.

Constine soars to eighth

Constine rose to the occasion, as well, leaping to 33-00.75 for her first taste of state glory. It wasn’t her season best, but it was good enough Friday to move her up from her seed and onto the podium.

“That was my goal from the beginning of the season,” she said. “This is what I wanted to accomplish, and it’s a great feeling.”

Relays fall short

Elsewhere, Soroco’s boys and girls 400 relay teams fell short of qualifying. The boys team, with Micah Gibbons, Chance Beaty, Storm Veilleux and Tyler Enger, placed 47th in 47.50, 1.56 seconds away from advancing. The girls, with Hayley Johnson (making her own exit after a long career running at state and a four-event weekend), Cassie Constine, Kali Constine and Maddie Rossi, finished 11th in 52.68, 0.08 away from a spot in the finals.

Kali Constine finished 13th in the pole vault, clearing 7-7.

Mattie Rossi, meanwhile, found success in the 300 hurdles, qualifying third in her heat for Saturday’s finals.

She’ll also race Saturday in the 100 hurdles finals. Other Saturday highlights could include Kelley in the 1,600, Hayden’s Thomas Rauch in the 110 hurdles and his teammate, Jack Redmond, who will take to the long jump with hopes of building on Thursday’s second-place triple jump performance.

Rossi lets it fly

Jessica Rossi’s final event was actually a slight letdown. Racing with Cassie Constine, Charlee Veilleux and Mattie Rossi in the 1,600 relay she had hoped to squeeze one more day out of her track career and compete in Saturday’s finals.

That group fell short, placing 11th in 4:18.42. The time to qualify was 4:17.37.

The boys 1,600, with Gibbons, Enger, Brandon Veilleux and Andrew Schupner, also didn’t quite make it, finishing in 3:45.26 and 14th place.

Jessica Rossi’s final day was anything but a bummer, however.

Her medals go a long way to showing how exactly she managed to carve out such a unique career in Oak Creek.

Consider discus.

She’d never seriously tried to throw discus before this season, though, tall, strong and athletic, she seems like an obvious candidate.

“When someone would suggest it, I thought they were saying I wasn’t very good at running,” she said Friday with a laugh.

But, someone’s advice finally sunk in. She gave it a try this spring, and, go figure, she’s a natural. She started this season throwing it around 80 feet, then crept up to 90. A toss of 99 feet, 6.25 inches earned her the trip to state and on her very first throw Friday, she outdid even that, sending the disc soaring to 111-5.

““I threw that first one and thought, ‘Hey, that one’s pretty far out there,’” she said. “Then I counted the marks and saw it was past 110. It was pretty exciting.”

It was good enough for a personal best, for a school record and, eventually, for a fourth-place finish.

Pole vault provided its own challenges for Rossi — big ones that mostly center around the fact that Soroco has neither the facilities on which to practice the event nor poles sized for Rossi to use in competition.

She approached it with the same wide smile she has for seemingly everything else, though, and competing Friday on a pole borrowed from the West Grand High School team, she set yet another school record, this time clearing 8 feet, 7 inches.

She only barely made that.

On her first miss, the bar bounced up, down, up, down and finally off.

Rossi grimaced, smiled, rolled off the mat and set out to try again.

On her second try the bar again wobbled. Rossi fell to the mat, grinned, smiled and began to head back for her third attempt before realizing, belatedly, the bar had actually survived its dance and stayed on the pegs.

She fell to her hands and knees on the mat, laughing loudly.

Three tries at 9-1 all came up short, but that did little to change her mood.

Friday was Rossi’s last day competing in the maroon and white, and she went as she came, with a bright smile, a humble approach and big time results.

“What I’m going to miss more than competing is all the people who support you,” she said. “That’s what makes competing so fun for me, all of those supporters. They want to see you do good. They want to see you put your best out there. There’s always someone who’s proud of you. It’s really cool.”

To reach Joel Reichenberger, call 970-871-4253, email or follow him on Twitter @JReich9

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