Top 7 Athletes To Watch At The WI Indoor State Championships

* JJ Williams (left) from Glenwood City will compete in the boys 800m at the indoor state championships; Lily Kriegel (right) of Whitefish Bay enters as the top seed in the girls 1,600m



Athletes from across the state will take to the oval and the field in Whitewater on Saturday hoping to earn coveted titles at the Wisconsin State Indoor Track & Field Championships.

That includes many defending champions and some of the states most experienced upperclassmen, as well as up-and-coming youth stars that have made an impression already in 2023.

PRs, meet records and even indoor Wisconsin state records could all potentially go down this weekend.

Continue below to read more on seven athletes to watch on Saturday at the Wisconsin State Indoor Track & Field Championships.

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Charlize-Trinity McKenzie, Cedarburg

Girls 400m & 800m

McKenzie has been not just one of the top underclassmen athletes in Wisconsin since the fall, but a strong up-and-coming talent on the national stage.

The 9th-grader from Cedarburg has taken to the middle distance events with ease and confidence, clocking impressive bests of 2:11.05 for 800m and 57.90 in the 400m this season. The latter effort earned her bronze in the freshman 400m at Nike Indoor Nationals last month, and she also finished 19th in the championship 800m in 2:15.54 at the same meet.

Her 2:11.05 800m personal best currently ranks first in the U.S. among members of the freshman class for the indoor season.

And McKenzie is no stranger to Wisconsin state championships either. As an 8th-grader last year, she swept the 200m, 400m and 1,600m at the middle school outdoor championships in May.

So when it comes to pulling off the 400m-800m double this weekend, McKenzie already knows how to successfully pull off a multi-win performance on the championship stage.

McKenzie enters the 800m as the favorite to pull off the win, but faces stiff challengers in Delea Martins and other quick sprinters in her pursuit of a 400m title.

Ben Smith, Hortonville

Boys Shot Put

Just how good has Smith been in the shot put this indoor season?

Let the numbers speak for themselves.

The Hortonville junior is undefeated this season in five meets contested, and his season best and all-time indoor PR of 65-8 ranks third in the country for the 2023 indoor season. Plus, Smith has thrown over 64 feet in three of his five competitions, making him one of the most consistent throwers this season.

Smith will now throw for a state championship this weekend and could potentially challenge for a state record with a big performance.

The current Wisconsin indoor all-time best sits at 67-11.5 recorded by Andrew Stone from Fond du Lac back in 2019. But at No. 2 all-time is Smith with his 65-8 mark from the Oshkosh Large School Invitational on March 13.

Smith won both the shot put and discus at the 2022 outdoor championships, so he isn't a newcomer to the stage by any means. Keep your eye on Smith to potentially unleash an impressive effort that could improve upon his WI No. 2 all-time mark.

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Delea Martins, Shorewood

Girls 400m

The UNC-Chapel Hill signee isn't done with her final indoor season just yet.

Martins has consistently been one of the top quarter-milers in the state in 2023, and she'll look to end her indoor campaign by taking part in the first Wisconsin indoor championships of her career.

In the 400m, Martins could likely push the field to a quick pace as she holds a 5633 season best from the MVP Vibe Fest meet back in February. Her most recent 400m effort came on March 17 at the Lake Michigan Invitational where she won in 57.01.

And when Martins is able to find another gear in the quarter-mile, she can be tough to beat. She has strong 200m speed as exemplified by her stellar indoor best of 24.63 from MVP Vibe Fest.

Martins has a chance this weekend to earn her first coveted state title in her first and only shot at it, which could make for a very entertaining girls 400m competition.

Keany Parks, Kenosha Bradford

Boys Long Jump & 60m

As the reigning indoor champion in the boys long jump, Parks will be one of the top athletes to watch in the horizontal jumps competitions this weekend.

At the 2022 indoor championships last April, Parks marked a 23-2 jump to win the long jump by nearly a foot. He also advanced to the semifinals of the 60m dash where he would take 17th place.

But Parks has already soared past that state-winning mark from last year with a 24-0.5 PR set at the Case Classic on March 25.

He'll also look to improve this year in the 60m, and he's already logged a 55m personal best this season of 6.62, showing he has made significant strides in the short sprint event.

Expect Parks to try and put down a big jump on Saturday to defend his Wisconsin title, as well as potentially qualify for the finals in a competitive boys 60m field.

Meghan Schultz, New Berlin West

Girls Shot Put

Schultz enters the state meet with perhaps the most momentum of any athlete set to compete for titles.

Just yesterday, Schultz logged a huge shot put personal best of 43-11 as a likely state meet tune-up at the Woodland West Indoor meet. That improved upon her previous indoor PR by nearly two feet.

But it should come as no surprise that the senior from New Berlin West could likely be the girl to beat in the throws competition. She won an outdoor state title in the shot put last June with a 45-10.5 mark, so she knows what it takes to come away from the state's biggest stage with a gold medal.

Keep an eye on that Wisconsin indoor all-time rankings list, too. Schultz's 43-11 effort currently ranks ninth in state history, and another big performance could see her rise up the leaderboards.

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JJ Williams, Glenwood City

Boys 800m

Williams could be one of the larger dark horse candidates going into the Wisconsin state championships.

And frankly, that's because the Glenwood City senior has only competed twice this indoor season, both of which came at the 1,600m distance in events held at the end of March.

But Williams proved last outdoor season that he's one of the best racers at the shorter 800m distance in the state of Wisconsin.

At the outdoor championships last June, Williams had a breakthrough performance as he clocked 1:55.27 to finish second overall in Division 3. He's also coming off a strong cross country campaign from the fall where he earned another state runner-up finish for Division 3 with a 16:17.00 5k effort.

Though we haven't seen him run an 800m yet this track season, Williams has the experience at the distance that could propel him to yet another big performance, and potentially the first Wisconsin state title of his career.

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Lily Kriegel, Whitefish Bay

Girls 1,600m

Kriegel has gained significant experience racing against national competitors during the 2023 indoor season, which could serve her quite well come this weekend's state championships.

The junior out of Whitefish Bay made the trip to Boston for the premiere New Balance Nationals Indoor competition and came away with two new PRs: 5:05.71 for the full mile and 11:39.27 in the 2-mile. That was Kriegel's first time toeing the line on the indoor nationals stage and should likely give her great confidence moving into the Wisconsin state championships.

Her most recent performance came in the 800m at the Performance Running Outfitters Invitational on March 18 where she clocked another personal best of 2:20.86.

At states, she'll enter as the favorite in her premiere 1,600m event and hope to grab her first-ever Wisconsin indoor title after finishing ninth in the same event last season as just a sophomore.