What started out as a runaway in the North Shore Conference Indoor track meet Wednesday night became much more harrowing at the finish, as defending champion Homestead used a fast start and five first place finishes to hold off a determined Germantown squad, 155.5-153.5, in the meet held at the Highlander Fieldhouse.
"You don't have too many sleepless nights when you have seniors in key positions and a lot of others filling in other spots," said Highlander coach Dan Benson before the final scores were reported. "It's another step on our journey, but we knew it would be challenging."
"That Germantown team is super legit."
Indeed, the Warhawks won six events and made a comfortable advantage for the Highlanders a lot more tense with strong showings in some of the final three events, the pole vault, the 3,200 meters and the 1,600 relay.
"We had a phenomenal meet," said Warhawk co-coach Jeff Schreiber. "Everybody stepped up to the plate. ...Our distance guys did a fantastic job and they helped us make up a lot of ground. We started to get back late, but we knew they (the Highlanders) held out some guys and that they could have loaded some races a bit more."
"I'm just happy that we made it competitive."
Indeed, as the meet was really just a two-team competition as Whitefish Bay was a distant third with 66. Homestead won its fifth overall North Shore meet (indoor, relays and outdoor) in its last six tries. They were triple crown champions last season.
Homestead got off to its fast start by scoring 62 points in the first four events combined (shot put, high jump, 55 dash and 55 hurdles).
Earning firsts for the Highlanders were Mike Collins in the 400 meters (53.12 seconds), Gabe Genovesi in the 800 (2:05.8), Brad Pelisek in the long jump (22-10), Danny Schiller in the high jump (6-6) and Justin Barber in the shot put (55-3).
Schiller, who earlier this season cleared a state best six feet-10 inches, said what people have seen in the Highlanders so far (two major meet victories and one close second) is just the tip of the iceberg.
"We're definitely going to continue working hard all season and aim for state," he said. "We always challenge each other in practice, and are always pushing each other to be the best."
Other top three finishes for the Highlanders by event included the following: 55 high hurdles--Taylor Ruffin, second (8.04). Four-lap relay--Matt Stern, Matt Sama, Brent Anderson and Xavier Crumpton, second (1:18.75). 3,200 relay--Mike Cronce, Cody Berger, Matt Murtos and Igor Sulim, third (8:46.64). Pole vault--Jake Ziebart, third (12-0). 55 dash--Crumpton, second (6.67); Collins, third (6.83). 400--Andrew Holtorf, third (55.49). 800--Doug Mueller, second (2:05.8). 1,600--Nate Routhier, second (4:43.16).
Pelisek, who recorded a personal best and vaulted high up the state honor roll with his winning long jump, has been impressed by the team's work ethic so far.
"It's exciting right now," he said ."This past off-season had the best focus for training in my four years on the team. We didn't expect everything that's happened so far, but it's not a huge surprise either. We knew that the off-season would pay off."
As did Germantown co-coaches Schreiber and Andy Bavlnka. They got firsts from Adam Schueller in the 1,600 (4:42.98), Tim Trapp in the 3,200 (10:33.88), Mitch Heupel in the pole vault (13-0), Dexter Schleis in the 55 high hurdles (7.71); the 1,600 relay team of Sean Pawlak, Kenny Haferkorn, Ben Holcomb, and Gary Hackney (3:47.16); and the 3,200 relay team of Mike Feilbach, Jake Scaduto, Hackney and Ben Baus (8:40.08).
Hackney held off Whitefish Bay 200 champ Davontae Johnson to win the 1,600 relay in a spirited finish and Schueller, just a sophomore, picked up the distance gauntlet that his mutli-time state-qualifying older brother Keith had laid down, as he made a last-second surge to hold off Routhier and teammate Haferkorn to win the 1,600.
"I felt confident about my last move (with about 100 meters to go)," he said. "In fact, I said to myself as I went by, 'Boy that felt good'."
Other top three efforts for the Warhawks included the following: 200--Jake Richmond, third (24.95). 400--Pawlak, second (54.37). 800--Nick Skidmore, third (2:05.82). 1,600--Haferkorn, third (4:43.47). 55 hurdles--Holcomb, third (8.33). High jump--Eric Kindler, second (6-4). Pole vault--Brian Kuhlenbeck, second (12-0). Long jump--Schleis, second (21-8). Shot put--Bryan Keys, second (50-8 1/2).
After some years of struggle, Bay coach Joe Saggio said the Blue Dukes "Have some hungry kids competing this year."
And it showed in the Blue Dukes solid third-place finish.
Johnson won the 200 by more than a half-second in 23.92, while teammate Brandon Threats took second (24.53). Jevonate Merriwether won the 60 in 6.62 and also took third in the high jump with a personal best of 6-3.
That runner-up 1,600 relay team included Johnson, Threats, Tommy Koehn and James Stecker (3:47.64) while Mike Camirelli earned third in the 3,200 (10:48.34). The Blue Dukes expressed a lot of team spirit throughout the meet.
"Hopefully that shows we have a lot of potential," Johnson said.
Nicolet was sixth with 31 points, as the four-lap relay team of Christian Smith, Dan Torres, Winston Hermann and Lamar Johnson-Harris won in a clocking of 1:18.23 and the 1,600 relay team of Hermann, Johnson-Harris, Frank Fischer and Jeff McClain was third (3:49.78).
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