PLAINVILLE -- Last year, La Crosse's Marcus Moeder drew the attention of the Wichita State University track and field coaches when he won the Elite Division of the long jump at the K.T. Woodman, a large regular-season meet hosted by WSU.
Soon after that, Moeder, a six-time state track medalist, suffered a foot injury and didn't place at the state meet. Injuries again limited Moeder to half a season in football and he missed the first part of basketball. Wichita State, though, stayed interested and Moeder took his official visit in December. Moeder, who rushed for more than 3,400 career yards and is a Shrine Bowl selection, recently signed with WSU to run track, choosing the sport over other options for football.
"Really I wanted to play football at the next level, but I didn't get the interest I was looking for and the schools that were interested in me I really wasn't interested in going to," Moeder said. "Track has always been by second choice and I am pretty proud of it no matter what."
Moeder has received more positive news this spring on the track. He has experienced no pain with his foot and enjoyed a four-gold medal performance in Tuesday's Plainville Invitational. On a cold day, Moeder set a season-best in the 100-meter dash (10.81 seconds) and won the 400 meters (51.84), long jump (21-2 1/2) and was on the winning 1,600-meter relay (3:36.34).
"Football, basketball season, he was slow getting through all that stuff," La Crosse head football coach/assistant track coach Jon Webster said. "Just finally getting to compete at that level I think is huge for his confidence and we have seen it today."
La Crosse won the nine-team meet with 149.5 points. Russell was second with 103 points and Ellis was sixth with 38.5 points. On the girls' side, Norton finished with 115 points, 10 ahead of Russell. Ellis was eighth with 13 points. Victoria, which also competed at Osborne on Monday, had a split squad on Tuesday. They finished fifth on the girls' side with 60 points and seventh on the boys with 11 points.
Moeder became the fourth La Crosse athlete to sign with a NCAA Division I school in the last two years.
"I think at first it was a hard decision for him, but for me, I wanted him to be happy," Webster said. "Whether he wanted to go play juco football or run Division III track somewhere, whatever, I wanted it to be at a good school for him. Even if it wasn't competing, just going to a school as a student, I think he made a good decision for himself. I am super excited for him."
Sam Legleiter signed with University of Memphis for track, Mike Powell inked with Kansas State University for football and Moeder's best friend, Marshall Musil, signed with the University of Oklahoma for football. Moeder and Musil had discussed each playing a Division I sport in college.
"That's kind of a big thing for me and my family at the La Crosse community as a whole," Moeder said. "Being so small and now we have had all of these D1 athletes the last couple of years, it's really a pretty neat thing."
Moeder placed in three events at state his freshman and sophomore years. As a junior, he broke the school mark in the 100-meter dash when he ran 10.64, lowering a record that had stood for half a century. He also lept 22-6 in the long jump, near his goal of 23 feet. But Moeder missed a meet and a half, couldn't practice for two weeks, couldn't compete at state because of his foot injury. This year, Moeder went 22-5 1/2 at the season-opening meet at Kinsley and had another standout performance at Plainville.
"It's really exciting for myself since I am going to be competing at the next level," he said. "I am just kind of curious to see how this season goes and how I progress. It's just kind of self-satisfying just to stay healthy so far and not have any problems."
In the long jump, Moeder didn't have his best performance.
"I had trouble exploding off the board and getting height today," he said. "Just kind of real flat. I really needed to work on my explosion right now. It will come."
In the sprints, though, Moeder impressed. He won the 100 meters by more than half a second and the 400 by nearly two seconds. Moeder and Osborne junior Damon Schurr are the lone 2A runners to crack 10.9 seconds in the 100 this year.
"I was actually very impressed with (his 100 time)," Webster said. "I didn't think he would run that well with the weather. He ran well all the way through."
Moeder, who has run 51.6 and 51.84 in the 400 meters this season, is the lone 2A runner under 52, according to the McPherson College state honor roll.
"I kind of tightened up at the end (of the 400), but still pretty good for the weather and everything," Moeder said.