When people peruse the records for the Peabody-Burns High School girls’ track team 16 years from now, they are apt to see a name they will not recognize. Wiebke Wiesse, 5 feet, 1 inch in the high jump.
That is because Wiese is a foreign exchange student from Germany. The Peabody-Burns high jump mark had not been bested in 16 years. Wiese’s goal is to get to 5-3 for the state meet May 25.
“Maybe, one day, you’ll come back and that name will still be there,” head coach Brian Lightner told Wiese.
Wiese’s success this season in track speaks to the ease in which she has assimilated into the Peabody community. She made fast friends with Page Lewis and other girls on the PBHS volleyball team. While competing in the fall, Wiese had her eyes on track, asking the other girls what events they did.
Wiese has been a track and field athlete since fifth grade, and high jump has been her specialty since high school. She said it has been nice competing in a diverse array of events. She could not specialize too much for the Warriors, who have less than 20 athletes on the team.
On Friday in Hillsboro, she placed third in the high jump with a leap of 4-10. She said the fierce wind threw her timing off. She said the wind, something other first time Kansas athletes have said is a major difference, has not been difficult to overcome. She is from a town of about 16,000 people, just north of Hamburg; because of the proximity to the northern coast, a breeze is always present.
Wiese also placed fifth in the 400-meter dash, with a time of 1 minute, 4.41 seconds. The 400 is a new event for Wiese this year.
Wiese placed sixth in the 200 with a time of 29.73 seconds. It was the first time she had ever competed in the 200.
Each placement scored points for PBHS, making up much of the 17 team points scored in Hillsboro.
“We wouldn’t be competing the way we are without them,” Lightner said.
Wiese is not alone. Martin Reich, also a foreign exchange student from Germany, hails from Bremen, a city of about 500,000 people. He competes for the PBHS boys’ track team in the 100, 200, long jump, and 4x100 relay.
“It’s nice to have somebody go through the same things you do,” Wiese said.
Reich’s story is similar to Wiese. He played football and basketball and quickly made friends with fellow athletes like Seth Topham. While the school schedule — school usually lets out around noon in Germany — and small town life have been changes for both students they have taken to Peabody, even if they might not have known where it was when they got their first e-mail from their host families.
“At first, when I got the application, I went to Google maps,” Reich said. “It landed in the middle of nowhere.”
In a major difference from Wiese, Reich had zero experience in any of his sports before this season. He had never even seen a football game before his year in America, but he did score eight touchdowns for the junior varsity Warriors.
Track has been an equivalent mystery. He has progressed in the long jump and sprints, although he said he is about equivalent to PBHS’ freshmen athletes.
“He likes to do well,” Lightner said. “He’s a great kid to coach.”
Wiese and Reich have about a month left in the U.S. Lightner hopes that they have taken away great relationships and memories from track and school. It appears both athletes have done that.
“You hear a lot in music and books,” Wiese said of the U.S. “If you want to understand, you have to experience it yourself.”
Discus: 2. Lucas Larsen, 134-2.
High jump: 4. Topham, 5-10; 5. Braxton Kyle, 5-6.
110 hurdles: 2. Topham, 16.11.
300 hurdles: 3. Topham, 44.22.
100 hurdles: 3. Lewis, 17.95