My Northern Wisconsin

Covering Ashland, Iron, Lincoln, Oneida, Price, Rusk, Sawyer, Taylor, and Vilas Counties


Ben Virnig breaks the school record at sectionals in Marathon.

Ben Virnig, the son of Dan and Holly Virnig and brother to Lindsay, has been in track and field since 7th grade.  In 8th grade, he broke the school record at Phillips Middle School, along with the middle school state meet record, and middle school state record.  "I like track because if you work hard enough and have a good mindset, you can really excel at your event or events," Ben shared.

During the regular season in 2023, while he was a freshman, he tied the school's pole vaulting record, and he did so again at the regional track and field competition on Monday, May 22, 2023.  The 12' 6" record was set by Sawyer Desotelle and had not been touched by anyone else since 2005.

Ben said tying the record felt very good.  "I tied the school record at a home meet, so that was the best part of it.  It was a really good experience to tie the record around people I knew."

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Ben was not going to settle for tying the record, however.  He stated, "I believed that I could break it freshman year so that was my goal."  Advancing to sectionals on Thursday, May 25th, he broke the school's record by pole vaulting 12' 9".  This earned him 5th place at sectionals, one place short of a state qualification.

While going to state as a freshman would have been a great experience, Ben said that beating the school's record felt amazing.  "It was very exciting breaking our high school record at sectionals.  I worked for it all year, and that was my biggest goal for freshman year.  I missed state by 3 inches and by one place in our very tough sectional, but setting the school record and accomplishing the goal I've worked so hard for felt really good."

His mother, Holly, added, "We are super happy for him to overcome a variety of challenges this track season and still accomplish his goal of breaking the school record as a freshman.  Mission accomplished! 
Every day is a gift, and this experience already has him working hard to do better next track season."

Sawyer Desotelle also had something to say about Ben breaking his record.  "I had heard that Ben was a very talented vaulter - clearing 11 feet as an 8th grader.  I knew Ben was going to break my record and secretly hoped he would break it his freshman year - setting up a chance to challenge and surpass himself all four years.  Ben is a great athlete and a great kid.  I have a feeling this milestone is the beginning of many - the sky’s the limit.  Congratulations, Ben!"

Ben gives credit to his parents and some other individuals for his success.  "I never would've tried pole vaulting if my mom and friend, Gavin Esterholm, wouldn't have made me try the event one day at 7th grade track practice because my dad vaulted in high school.  All of my success in the sport is owed to John Zastrow, Noah Zastrow at WVC (Wisconsin Vault Club), and my dad from breaking the middle school state record of 10' 6" and the middle school state meet record of 9' 6", both with a jump of 11’, all the way to breaking our high school record of 12' 6" with a jump of 12' 9" my freshman year of high school."

Ben stated his goal for sophomore year is 14 feet, and by his senior year he wants to jump 16 feet or higher.

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(This post was last modified: 07-11-2023, 02:56 PM by My Northern Wisconsin.)