Leah Joslyn has taken her talents to Penn State University, and Megan Wallace competes at UW-Eau Claire, but the Demons have a crop of fresh, skilled freshmen to pick up the slack. (Mike Ramczyk/SLN)

 

By Mike Ramczyk

sports@southernlakesnewspapers.com

Work has the ability to consume people, as many struggle to differentiate between personal and professional.

Long hours, overtime and business trips may help the bottom line, but personal lives are affected, for both good and bad.

But when personal tragedy strikes, suddenly we’re thrust into chaos, and what really matters takes over.

Burlington track and field head coach Jason Bousman understandably hasn’t had the time to focus on his team much this spring.

That’s because last month Jason’s parents Jim and Kathleen were injured in a car accident while vacationing in Ireland.

Subsequently, Jim stepped down as Burlington Area School District Board of Education President due to complications and “challenges,” as he stated in a April 5 story in the Burlington Standard Press.

While the Bousmans recover both physically and emotionally, Jason said Monday it’s been a difficult process.

“The family is getting stronger everyday,” Jason said. “I am doing well, I am blessed to have a very strong family as well as a very strong coaching staff to help me get through a difficult time.”

Roughly a month ago, Bousman and his coaches competed in an indoor event at UW-Parkside to open the season.

It gave the third-year head coach a chance to see his youth in action.

The Demons boast a freshman class of 27 athletes. There are 90 kids in the entire program.

“We didn’t try to load up the meets with just varsity athletes, we allowed our very large freshman class a chance to compete, which was great for them to see what a high school meet is all about,” Bousman said.

Last year’s stars, Megan Wallace and Leah Joslyn, who compete collegiately at UW-Eau Claire and Penn State University, respectively, may be gone, but the Demons welcome back senior thrower Jackie Garwood, along with juniors Grace Peyron (200, 400, long jump, high jump), Jack Hartzell (100, 200, 400, pole vault) and Wyatt Hayes (thrower).

The boys finished fourth in the eight-team Southern Lakes Conference in 2017, while the girls took fifth.

Bousman said the numbers are up this season, and the squad is led by a number of talented juniors.

One of those juniors is football and basketball player Nick Webley, who will compete in the 100, 200 and long jump.

Bousman noted three key freshmen, including Austin Wiemer (100, 200, long jump), Amanda Viel (100, 200, 400, long jump) and Tess Teberg (200, 400, long jump, high jump).

Bousman said there are hard-working and dedicated athletes that are willing to “trust the process,” but right now experience could be a weakness based on the overall youth of the squad.

With a goal of capturing the conference title, the season resumes at the Milwaukee Lutheran Invite April 14.

For now, the SLC Relays were postponed Tuesday and have yet to be rescheduled.

“Our goal is to win conference,” Bousman said. “Every year we are taking steps to improve our athletes to get closer to our goal.”

“To accomplish our goals, we have to be willing to trust the process. Everything from workouts on the track, strength training in the weight room and technique in field events … We need to ask questions for understanding and building our experiences through the highs and lows. If we fail, we need to fail forward and keep moving toward our goals.”

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