'This is what we do; this is who we are,' Homestead boys track coach Todd Brawner said about the Highlander squad's history and ethos.
There are very few recognizable names or faces this year on the recast Homestead boys track team. Senior distance star Evan Routhier is finishing up his career in fine fashion, while freshman distance runner Drew Bosley is laying the groundwork for a superstar career.
But aside from those two, there are a lot of guys like sprinters, hurdlers and middle distance runners Zion Bullock, Noah Cummisford, Jake Bruner, Corey Detoro, Willie Garrison, Lief Erlandson, Doug Kellner, Brenton Levy and Joe Wasserman.
None of them will be at the top of the state honor roll in terms of their times, but all of them get to call themselves North Shore Conference Relay champions.
Wassrerman epitomized Brawner's mission statement when he held off a fierce charge by a Whitefish Bay anchor runner to win the 4x400-meter relay to close out the day and put the finishing touches on the Highlanders' NSC Relays title on a chilly day at Homestead on May 4.
'That was a perfect way to cap it off,' Brawner said. 'It was not about the time but the spirit of the guys. We tried really hard in races like the sprint medley, the 4x100 and the 4x200, but we couldn't quite win those races.
'But it was still fun to watch them compete ... Wasserman was one of the hardest workers in the off-season, so it was great for him to have a moment like that, especially at home.
The rest of the relay consisted of Erlandson, Kellner and Levy and was clocked in 3:33.20 as Bay came across in 3:33.28.
That victory was the last of five event wins for the Highlanders as they scored 105 points for their title. NSC indoor champ Bay took second with 97. The meet was the first for the Highlanders on their newly refurbished track, which was refinished as part of the vast upgrading of the stadium complex.
Homestead took part in the Menomonee Falls Ron Burling Invitational on Tuesday, May 10, and closed out their regular season when they hosted their annual field event festival on May 11.
The North Shore Conference Outdoor will be held at 4 p.m. Tuesday, May 17, at Nicolet. Milwaukee Lutheran is the two-time defending champion, while Homestead, which has been third in each of the last two seasons, will be looking for its first title since 2013
Routhier said it's been fun to watch this team develop.
'We've had so many good surprises this spring,' he said. 'Ever since we've gotten outside, we've just gotten so much better. The guys are just clicking.'
Brawner agreed, calling the Homestead performance at the relays 'technically flawless.'
Aside from the 4x400 win, other event victories went to the 4x800 crew of Routhier, Bosley, Bullock and Cummisford (8:10.82); the 4x1,600 team of Meseret Elgin, Thomas Miller, Kai Newman and Routhier (19:28.91); the distance medley team of Bosley, Cummisford, Levy and Miller (10:55.24); and the shot put trio of Chris Malicky, Timothy Rodd and Zach Beale.
In the shot put, Malicky (49-103/4) and Rodd (48-23/4) had the top two throws individually.
Taking seconds were the 4x100 team of Bruner, Detoro, Garrison and Wasserman (45.04); the triple jump trio of Alex Babiasz, Jared Schneider and Danny Stevens; and the long jump team of Jake and Mike Bruner and Matt Winters.
Thirds included the discus trio of Will Nimke, Malicky and Rodd; the high jump team of Mike Bruner, Ali Rahman and Alex Babiasz; the 4x200 team of Wasserman, Jake Bruner, DeToro and Garrison (1:33.18); and the sprint medley team of Garrison, Jake Bruner, Detoro and Kellner (1:39.5).
Brawner said the team is developing some flexibility at this point — a good example of which is Bullock, formerly a long hurdler, but who has also developed into a sound middle-distance runner.
It's all part of the history of the program that it is supposed to develop people and win meets like this.
'I was talking to the kids at practice one day, and I said, 'We are Homestead, and we are known for our depth,'' Brawner said, 'and it is true. We can cover almost all the events ... it was just neat to see how well we competed in all 15 events.'
After the meet, everyone was heading home, including Routhier, who had his rambunctious husky, Bentley, on a leash that the 2-year-old pup was vigorously and playfully trying to chew through.
'We had a lot of pressure on our team,' Routhier said, 'but we turned in a great team effort. That 4x400 was great. It all came down to it, and Wasserman was really on it ... we had been thinking about a triple crown going into the season, but we couldn't quite get there in the indoor, but we came back here with a vengeance.'