The Homestead boys and girls track teams weren't going to win the Tosa West Dan Benson Invitational on April 29, but they made a point of going out on a high note as both won the closing the event, the 4x400-meter relay, to cement strong second-place team finishes.
Anchor runners Katie Wegmann for the girls and Joe Wasserman for the boys made sure it happened.
'That was fun,' said girls coach John Krueger. 'We went first, and it was a real back-and-forth race. A real 'and now a right and then a left and now a right' kind of race. We were with the Sun Prairie coaches, and they were feeling really good about things. In fact, I heard one assistant say, 'It's over,' and then here comes Katie right by their girl.'
'It's interesting,' said boys coach Todd Brawner. 'We have some years where our 800 (meter) guys are primarily 400 guys, and here this year, our 400 guys are primarily 800 guys. The kids are just developing nicely. All the sprinters PRed today, all the field events PRed and all the relays did, too.'
The meet was the last preparation for Homestead before the North Shore Conference Relays hosted by the Highlanders on May 4. The Highlander girls will also host their annual invitational on Saturday, May 7.
Both teams are rounding into championship meet form, according to both coaches, and looked so at the Benson. Sun Prairie won both meets as they were scored on a combined varsity-junior varsity basis. Sun Prairie won the boys meet, 322-308, and the girls meet, 341-274.
For the boys, the 4x400 victory by the crew of Wasserman, Noah Cummisford, Drew Bosley and Doug Kellner (3:33.65) capped off a strong night by their distance and middle-distance runners. They went one-two in both the 800 and the 1,600, as Evan Routhier continued his strong spring with a winning time of 1:57.07 in the 800, and the freshman phenom Bosley turned in a personal best of 1:59.85 for second.
In the 1,600, Thomas Miller won with a 4:36.75, while Meseret Elgin was second in 4:47.39. The 4x800 relay team of Routhier, Zion Bullock, Doug Kellner and Kai Newman turned in a season best of 8:18.49, good for second, as Tosa East turned in a state honor time of 8:05.51 to win the race.
Other top performances included fine performances by the sprinters, including a fifth by freshman Willie Garrison in the 100 dash (11.55 in finals, 11.33 in trials) and a third by Wasserman in the 200 (23.31).
The 4x100 relay team of Jake Bruner, Wasserman, Corey DeToro and Garrison was also victorious in a season best of 44.72. Four teams were within 0.08 of a second at the finish line.
Mike Bruner was third in the high jump at 5-10, while the long jump crew of Jake Bruner (20- 1/2), Mike Bruner (19-6) and Matt Winters (19-4) took second, third and fourth, respectively.
Other fourths went to Jared Schneider in the triple jump (39-61/4), Chris Malicky in the discus (127-6), and Kai Newman in the 3,200 (10:34.43).
Brawner was happy with the effort.
'The meet allows three entries per event, so it's a good set-up to get ready for the conference relays,' he said. 'You get a lot of kids involved. It's good competition, not over-the-top, but good, and that's all right because there are always kids to develop.'
Krueger largely agreed, and that was no more evident than on that 4x400 relay, as Wegmann brought home the team, which included Allison Fochs, Savannah Melan and Maddie Powell, in a season best of 4:14.13. Krueger said Wegmann's 400 split was under a minute.
The only other event win for Homestead was by Leah Gholson in the 300 low hurdles (49.33). Krueger said Gholson's form over the hurdles isn't the prettiest but noted that she makes up a lot of ground between hurdles.
Seconds went to Wegmann in the 400 (1:00.86) and 1,600 (5:19.24); the 4x100 relay team of Erin Carley, Carolyn Rossman, Natalie Ceelen and Olivia Wasserman (53.39); the 4x200 relay team of Ellie Hetrick, Carley, Amber Rahman and Aly Rilling (1:55.89); and the 4x800 relay of Powell, Kim Hartlieb, Lindsey Miller and Olivia Damron (10:32.7).
Other good finishes included the following: 100 dash: Ceelen, fourth (13.53). 200: Melan, fourth (27.99); 400: Melan, fourth (1:02.35); 800: Powell, third (2:29.71); Zanelle Willemse, fourth (2:30.3); 1,600: Willemse, third (5:22.93); 3,200: Anna Keller, third (12:11.44), Thais Marques, fourth (12:27.22); discus: Jessie Zupke, third (98-2); and long jump: Aly Rilling, third (15-2).
Krueger was pleased with the showing.
'It gives us a chance to work on relays and gives a chance to see some kids post some open times,' he said. '... This is a good measuring stick, find out whether we're peaking or not because we want our best meets to be the conference, regional and sectional meets.'