It was a MASH-list made of grit, sweat and tenacity for the Homestead 3,200-meter distance runners at the end of their race Tuesday night at the North Shore Conference Outdoor meet.
One was draped over the shoulder of head coach John Krueger, another was lying on her hip, trying to get up but her exhaustion glued her to the track, and another was flat on her back, tired beyond all measure.
The three (Kelsey Boyle, Dana Griepentrog and Sarah Miller) had claimed the fourth through sixth places, giving the Highlanders 12 valuable points in what was then still a tight meet.
"We did it together," said Miller, who earned sixth. "It was such an exceptional race, but we pulled together at the end. Knowing what we did for the team helps make the pain worthwhile."
Espeically after distance coach Victor Vilar came up to her and happily announced that Miller's time was a personal best.
Then there was 100 high and 300 low hurdle champ Marissa Savitch, who in response to being challenged down the final straight in the 300s by Germantown freshman Sammie Gassner, said "I was a little tired and she had me until the last hurdle, but then I thought about the team and I gave it my all."
And then there was senior pole vaulter Katelyn Wright, who upped her personal best by another six inches in winning her specialty in what coach John Krueger felt was a heart-felt effort.
It was this kind of fortitude and mental toughness which netted the Highlanders the league outdoor title Tuesday and the NSC triple crown they so narrowly missed last year via a close loss in the outdoor to Germantown.
"Last year left such a bitter taste in our mouths (a close loss in the NSC outdoor to Germantown)," said Krueger. "We talked this week about not getting too far ahead of ourselves. We've had some success the last few weeks (winning the Cedarburg and Highlander Invitationals), but this is the one that we had our eyes on the whole time."
"The one we really wanted."
Homestead scored 149 points for its crown as Milwaukee Lutheran was second with 114, Nicolet third with 107, host Whitefish Bay fourth with 85.5 and Germantown fifth with 70.
The most hard-earned of the Highlander points came in the 3,200 as Boyle was fourth (11:34.12), Griepentrog fifth (11:34.91) and Miller sixth (11:34.97).
"Those kids were perfect examples," said Krueger. "They just really laid it on the line."
The only victories for the Highlanders came from Savitch in the 100 high (14.91) and the 300 low hurdles (48.08) and Wright (10-6). Seconds went to the 3,200 relay team of Miller, Megan Starr, Carolyn Apfelbach, and Keali Bjork (9:59.39); Ashley Heding in the 100 (12.73), Bjork in the 400 (1;00.07); and Natalie Goniu in the shot put (37-9.5).
And there was much more to the effort than mere top places, Savitch said.
"It was so close last year (the outdoor)," she said, "and because it was so close, everyone had that focus, that this (the triple crown) was what we were really aiming for."
Another person taking dead aim at something important was Bay distance runner Megan Palmer, who threw off a weeks-old cold and turned in a spectacular two-win showing this day. First, she set a new meet record over a fast field (six runners under 5:16) in the 1,600 with a 5:06.42 effort.
Then the 2008 state 800-meter champ came back and beat 2009 state 800 runner-up Liz Wendt of Germantown by a 2:19.18-2:19.63 margin. Palmer was more than pleased to win two league titles in her senior year on her home track, a facility that hadn't hosted a major meet in seven years.
"Gus (AD John Gustavson) told us a couple years ago that we would be hosting conference our senior year," she said, "and now doing this here, like this, makes it so special. It's nice to be able to bring it (the league championships) back here."
The Blue Dukes also got a first from Frankie Carroll in the high jump (5-3) and Emma-Lisa Murphy finished second in the 3,200 (11:21.52) with one of two times that broke the exisiting league record. Cedarburg's Haley Bauer set the new mark in 11:15.95. Camille Schwartz (10-0) and Nawoo Kim (10-0) were second and third, respectively, in the pole vault.
Nicolet has improved a great deal since the start of the season and emphasized that point with a spectacular closing run in the 1,600 relay as the team of Allison Maling, Ashley Green, Ashley Jones and Surya Chionesu roared to a winning time of 4:08.17.
Green, the NOW All-Suburban Girls Basketball Player of the Year, broke open the race with a sudden and swift second leg.
"That felt great," she said, "because I'm finally in track shape now. We never really want to run this race (because the 400 legs are so hard), but once we get into it, we never want to lose it."
The Knights also got a victory from Roni Thompson in the triple jump (36-1), who was also second in the long jump (16-1/4). Brianna Achs was also second in the discus (116-7).
Germantown's showing got off to a fast start, as the 3,200 relay team of Andrea Sielicki, Caitlin Dillon, Mackenzie Erdmann and Wendt set a new NSC record with a 9:41.45 showing that was 18 seconds clear of the field.
Dillon was also second in the 1,600 (5:08.44) as was Gassner in the 300 hurdles (48.53) and the 1,600 relay team of Gassner, Jessica Kretlow, Jennifer Ellis and Meredith Humiston (4:10.96).
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