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Homestead and Whitefish Bay boys track teams set for future battles

Conference tests ahead

May 7, 2014

They tied in the North Shore Conference Indoor meet last month and were likely locked in a close competition in the league relay meet that was held earlier this week on May 7. They will knock heads yet again at the NSC outdoor at Cedarburg on May 20.

And when the Whitefish Bay and Homestead boys track teams met head-to-head in the annual Dan Benson Invitational at Wauwatosa West on May 2, the two sides found another player in the equation, as the Highlanders narrowly lost the team title to league rival Milwaukee Lutheran, 105-103, in the 11-team affair, while the Blue Dukes were third with 95.

"We found out that we can fill all the events," said Homestead coach Todd Brawner. "What the other teams can do or will do, we don't know yet, but we're not going to underestimate any other team that's out there."

"We discovered that we have a lot of options for our guys," said Bay coach Robert Wood. "Usually everything is pretty cut and dried but we have a lot of guys who can do a lot of things."

Guys who are now ready for the big major meet season-ending push.

"We had been flat at Wisconsin Lutheran the week before," said Brawner, "but we were able get some things done mentally. We've had to communicate a lot this spring, because we're still young and learning."

"This was actually our first outdoor meet," said Wood. "We were also able to get a JV meet in the day before at Port Washington. That went really well. We were able to get a lot of times in on kids who we think are capable of stepping up before the season's done. There were a lot of personal bests out there."

Brawner admits he doesn't have the major hammers like he had last year in Jay Schneider and Riley Pelisek so he's relying a lot more on depth this season.

That showed up at the Benson, as the Highlanders took just three firsts. Blake Leeson accounted for two of them, taking the high jump with an effort of six feet-two inches and then winning the triple jump with an effort of 41-5 on a cool, drippy day with the wind blowing cold and hard off the nearly US 45 freeway.

"It always seems were running into a headwind here," Brawner said.

The only other first came from from Chris Mueller, with a fine time of 50.86 seconds in the 400-meters. Parker Lewis was second in the pole vault at 12-0 as was Vincent Wilkerson in the 300 intermediate hurdles (41.85). Thirds went to Elijah Triggs in the high jump (5-10), and John Marita in both the shot put (45-4) and discus (136-9).

Other noteworthy efforts included the following: 100—Nick Allen, sixth (11.68); 200—Allen, fourth (23.56); 400—Dan Held, fifth (52.97); 110 high hurdles—Wilkerson, sixth (16.26); 4x100 relay—Matt Winters, Nick Ziebell, Brad Novak and Matt Swensen, fourth (46.24); 4x200 relay—fifth (1:35.84); 4x400 relay—Wilkerson, Patrick Minkin, Andy Kruk and Ziebell, fourth (3:38.32); high jump—Mitch Kukla, sixth (5-8).

Brawner was pleased with the evening and is excited to see how far this team can go.

"This is a nice group," he said. "We host a group dinner every week and I love it. We want them to do their best and we'll enjoy them as long as we have them."

The Blue Dukes have ridden individual firepower most of the spring and it did not let them down here.

Junior hurdler Adam Strehlow led the way, by winning both the 110 high hurdles (14.95) and the 300 intermediates (40.77) in a pair of personal best times.

Strehlow said he came into the season with big goals after narrowly missing out on a state meet berth last season. He wanted to break 15 seconds in the high hurdles (which he has now done) and he noted that he would like to reach 39 flat in the 300 hurdles (still to be achieved).

Wood said he would not be surprised if Strehlow achieved much more than than what he's aiming at.

"We looked at pictures of him from last year and he looks like a little kid," said Wood. "Now this year, he's a lot stronger. He had a great off-season and I think his time in football last fall (defensive back and running back) really helped him. He's had a taste of success last year, now he wants more."

Strehlow was also third in the long jump (19-11 1/2).

Another first went to Ben Wallace in the pole vault at 12-6. Taking seconds were Rhashad Gray in the triple jump (41-2 1/4) and the 100 dash (11.51).

Other finishes of note included the following: 200—Gray, fifth (23.56). 400—Van Bassindale, sixth (53.38). 800—George Papajohn, fourth (1:59.08). 110 high hurdles—Colin Downing, fifth (personal best 15.98). 300 intermediate hurdles—Downing, sixth (44.96). 4x100 relay—Brady Wieland, Bailey Wieland, Wallace and Joe Pasbrig, fifth (46.41). 4x800 relay—Noah Katz, Scott Rojahn, Eddie Pencak, and Matthew Dudek, third (8:59.51). Pole vault—Ben Bergquist, sixth (11-0).

Wood too can't wait for what's ahead.

"We'll work on our consistency, our starts and our hand-offs, see what kind of performances we can get," he said.

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