It was not a brilliant effort that allowed the Homestead boys track team to cruise to the North Shore Conference outdoor championship and its second consecutive league triple crown Tuesday afternoon.
But it was a thorough and fair one, and it was not without its highlights.
*Such as Justin Barber's new state best in the discus with a 179-11 effort.
*Nate Routhier's dramatic edging of teammate Doug Mueller by .01 in the 800 as Routhier completed an 800-1,600 sweep.
*Gabe Genovesi's gritty pull-away from Whitefish Bay's Davontae Johnson in the 400 with a 49.45 clocking.
*The field event events expected domination that came from unexpected players as Brian Hoffmann won the triple jump and Taylor Ruffin the long jump as well as the usual (Danny Schiller in the high jump).
*And of course, the punctuation mark that was the high-profile 1,600 relay team of Andrew Holtorf, Gabe Genovesi, Mike Collins and Doug Mueller, which set a new league record of 3:22.34.
It's just a matter of covering all the bases, said a pleased Highlander coach Dan Benson.
"The real strength of our team is its balance," he said. "We try to cover all 18 events and we did that pretty well with the exception of not having an entry in the 3,200. Part of our motivation was completing the triple crown, which is something we never took for granted, because we have to remember we only won the league indoor by two points."
"If we didn't perform today, there were teams more than capable of doing the job."
But Homestead did do the job, scoring 201 points, which far outdistanced runner-up Germantown (140), which completed a triple crown of league second-place finishes. Whitefish Bay was third (101) and Nicolet seventh (44) in the eight-team field.
So thorough was the Highlanders' showing, that you could have combined the totals of fourth through seventh-place finishers Port Washington, Cedarburg, Grafton and Nicolet (186 total points) and still not beaten them.
Homestead, Germantown and Bay also completely swept all the individual victories in the lopsided meet.
"I think everyone had the feeling that it was a pretty good day," said Collins. "The times weren't quite as fast as they were the other day (at the conference relays two weeks ago), but everyone still had a lot of gas."
That the Highlanders did.
Routhier for one. He was clocked in 4:27.92 for his 1,600 win and then rallied past teammate Mueller for the win in the 800 as both were clocked in personal bests of 1:57.29 and 1:57.3, respectively.
"Success has been great," said Routhier. "This has been a fantastic team to be on. We keep setting one record after another even the (NSC champion) girls. Everyone is contributing."
The same could be said Ruffin, who won the long jump with a 20-11 effort with teammate Zach Enea taking second (20-10 1/2). Ruffin said he doesn't get much practice in the jumps as he's concentrating a great deal on the hurdles. He took second in both the 110 highs (15.03) and 300 intermediates (40.24) to now two-time hurdles champion Dexter Schleis of Germantown.
"There's such competition on this team," Ruffin said. "...We have a great diversity of ability from field events, to long sprints to almost everything else across the board."
Benson spoke up for the jumpers, whom he cited for a workmanlike effort, especially that of the unsung Hoffmann, who took the triple with a 42-1/4 showing. Enea and Brad Pelisek, who is still nursing a small injury, took fourth and sixth, respectively.
"It was solid day for those guys," said Benson. Schiller cleared 6-6 for his win in the high jump.
The team was happy for this collaborative victory, but now the Highlanders appear to be ready to take that big step of prepping for state.
"This (the triple crown) is one of the major goals we set at the beginning of the year," said Collins, "but it's just starting us on the good road towards (WIAA) regional, sectional and state. Everything we did up to this point is great, but it won't mean as much if we're not there in June (at state)."
And it looks like Germantown will making plans to pack a lot of bags for La Crosse come June, too.
Schleis will lead the way. He was clocked in 14.46 in winning the 110 high hurdles and 39.54 in taking the intermediates. He also ran a sound anchor leg on the runner-up 1,600 relay team that included Sean Pawlak, Ben Holcomb and Nick Skidmore, and turned in a season-best of 3:27.5.
"For some reason, things just felt a little harder today," he said, "but I'm happy. Going out as another two-time champion (which is what he did last year) is a good thing and it gets me ready for what's ahead." His high hurdle time matched his personal best.
Other Warhawks looking ready included the victorious 3,200 relay team of Pawlak, Ben Baus, Jake Scaduto and Skidmore (8:10.15) and other winners like Tim Trapp in the 3,200 (9:41.5), Bryan Keys in the shot put (53-8 1/2) and the one-two punch of Peter Winarski and Mitch Heupel, respectively, in the pole vault, both of whom went over 13-6.
A few years ago, Bay was a distance-oriented team that paid scant attention to the sprints. What a difference a few years make, as the Blue Dukes swept the open 100 and 200 events and the 400 and 800 relays, to lead themselves to the strong third-place finish.
Javontae Merrriwether and Davontae Johnson led the way. Merriwether won the 100 (11.2) and anchored the 400 relay team that included Alex Jamerson, James Stecker and Johnson (43.68); while Johnson won the 200 (22.92), and also took second in the 400 (50.65).
The 800 relay team of Jamerson, Stecker, Paul Davis and Brandon Threats set a season-best of 1:31.8 in recording its win.
"This is a big step in the right direction," said Threats. "It shows what we've been doing in practice everyday. We're working to do our best and we can't do it without each other."
"If we can just keep the focus, we'll be alright." said Blue Duke coach Joe Saggio. "Hopefully the kids will see that things are really coming together." Mike Camirelli was also second in the 3,200 (9:46.73) as was Davis in the triple jump (41-2 3/4).
Nicolet was led by the runner-up 400 relay team of Christian Smith, Lamar Johnson-Harris, Brandon Kappel and Winston Hermann (43.93). Jeff McClain was third in the 800 (2:00.42) as was Kappel in the long jump (20-6). Mark Taibleson was fourth in the discus (143-9) as was Nathan Frazer in the 1,600 (4:33.99) and the 3,200 (10:07.23).
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