In the fast lane: Laurel’s Jakob Webinger targets Class A sprint titles – and redemption | High school athletics


LAUREL – One race – the biggest race – changed everything for Jakob Webinger. And that left him feeling helpless.

Looking back, the build-up to last year’s 100-meter final at the Class A track and field competition made Webinger quite nervous. This is despite the fact that sprinter Laurel posted the best times in this event all year, including a time of 10.88 in the preliminaries a day earlier, and was the presumed favorite to win at his home track. at the LHS Sports Complex.

Then… “Bang!” At the gunshot, Billings Central’s Brock Ping shot out of the blocks like a house on fire. Webinger? Not really.

In the end, Ping, a senior, crossed first and won the title in 11.13, nine hundredths of a second ahead of junior Webinger. He had been beaten on familiar ground.

“(Ping) got off to a great start. And I think with me, I was so nervous that I wasn’t really prepared for it,” Webinger recounted. “I was so behind and he already had so much ground on me and I couldn’t make up for that.

“I felt like throwing up. I wanted to go to the bathroom and cry.

Jakob Webinger reacts as he crosses the finish line during Laurel’s 400-meter relay performance in the Class A meet last May at the LHS Sports Complex.

Webinger did neither of these things. He actually had a very strong weekend winning the long jump (20-9¼) and anchoring Laurel’s winning 400-meter relay team (42.79). He also ran the anchor leg during Laurel’s 1,600-meter relay effort for third place (3:30.76).

As a team, the Locomotives placed fourth with 50 points.

But those accomplishments didn’t take much of the spice out of what happened in the 100m. Winning this event was his main individual goal.

Now Webinger, a senior, has his eyes set on last year’s atonement and learning from the past. The 100 is his No. 1 goal again.

“It set me on fire. It really was. From that day on,” said Webinger, who also finished second in the 200. “I was in the weight room every day, working on the track over the weekend and doing everything I could to never let that feeling happen again.

“That’s my goal, definitely. I think it’s just about being here every day, working hard and pushing myself to limits that I’ve never reached before, and really focusing on winning this race.

Webinger’s sprinting prowess earned him a Division I opportunity with the track and field program at Montana State, where he will enroll in the fall.

Laurel Boys’ coach Curtis Fox said Webinger’s leadership qualities and commitment to improvement are ultimately what made him a star on the track. And those characteristics will give Webinger an added dimension going into his senior season in high school and into Bozeman’s years to come.

“He’s just an internally driven type of kid, and I’m not really one to give a lot of compliments. You have to earn it,” Fox said. “But he’s just been phenomenal with that stuff. He just takes a lot of time, and in fact, he wants to do more.

“It’s just one of those things. Sometimes you’re just beaten. But he’s just extremely motivated, he’s extremely coachable and that just helps the process. He’s an incredible leader. »

Webinger played football at Laurel as a fast wide receiver and gritty special teams performer, and was a member of a program that played for the state title in each of the past three seasons, winning it in 2020. .

He also has a golfing pedigree. Her father, Drake, is renowned on the state golf circuit while her sister McKenzie was the Class A champion on the links in 2011. A younger sister, Alivia, finished second in 2020 as a rookie, helping Laurel to his third consecutive Class A team. Title.

But football and athletics are Jakob’s passions, especially the latter.

After the 2020 season was canceled due to the pandemic, Webinger seemingly came out of nowhere as a junior.

“Last year I came into it and I wasn’t really sure how the year was going to go,” he said. “No one really knew who I was. I worked a lot in the offseason; I spent a lot of time with Coach Fox and did a lot of extra practice. It was kind of a breakout year for me and I felt really good.

“Going into the state I was confident but that last day I was super nervous. The 100 I was unprepared and ended up losing. But going into this year I think that I know how to get through this and be ready for this.”

On the team side, the Laurel boys have 66 kids on the roster to start the season, the kind of numbers that can give a big boost to a program that wants to be in contention for the state title. Beau Dantic (sprints), Chase Burrows (hurdles), Shel Osborne (throws) Zane Kazmierczak (throws), Tanner Schwend (sprints, jumps), Hunter Ward (throws) and Max Brown (hurdles) are among those to watch for the Locomotives .

Except Webinger, of course.

“We have high expectations, and I think our other sports have done a good job with that can-do attitude,” Fox said. “We have kids from a lot of other sports who have won state championships, and coming in we’re just like, ‘Hey, look, our expectation is to bring home trophies from divisions and the State. Our other coaches do a fantastic job with their athletes and are a versatile team.

“We have such determination to win. We’ve always had that in our class,” Webinger added. “We’ve put in so much work as a whole group, and we just have a lot of people in certain areas and that’s really helpful.”

Webinger has his own determination to win – and the focus to turn what was a feeling of helplessness into a championship moment.


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