It was a friendly gesture and probably one that Homestead girls track coach John Krueger appreciated.

At the end of the North Shore Conference outdoor championships at Nicolet, when most everyone was gone, Germantown coach Greg Siegert was trotting toward the gate with something metallic in his hand.

He didn't want Krueger to forget the conference championship bar that every winning team gets.

'I think he would be mad if he did,' chuckled Siegert, and he strode by.

Especially since the surprisingly deep Highlanders won their first league outdoor title since 2010 with an efficient and thorough effort.

Krueger could be found by the results' tent most of the evening at Nicolet, fretting about this race or that jump. He thought it would be close right until the end and was stunned when he learned his squad had won the meet by a comfortable margin, scoring 127 points, well ahead of co-runnerup squads Germantown and Whitefish Bay (98 apiece).

'And here I thought I would have to sweat out the triple jump,' he said with relief afterward. 'Man, that feels good. ... There were just so many success stories today. I just love what our staff has done with the team this year.'

The Highlanders built on that success with a good effort in the WIAA regional meet at Germantown on Monday, May 23. Qualifiers from there will head to the sectional at 4 p.m. Thursday, May 26, at Watertown.

The top three finishers in each event, plus the eight best out of all sectionals statewide, will advance to the WIAA State Meet in La Crosse on June 3 and 4.

Homestead's high-level effort at conference was marked with fine pieces of grit and well-earned reward. The winning effort of the 4x100-meter relay team (Allison Fochs, Carolyn Rossman, Natalie Ceelen and Alex Burns) is one example. The team came across with a time of 52.53, despite having one performer work with a back brace and another with a broken arm.

'We felt bad about putting those girls in that race in that situation, but they feel good now,' said Krueger.

Another win went to Cali Weigert in the discus with a toss of 102-0.

Taking seconds were Katie Wegmann in the 400 (1:00.72); Maddie Powell in the 1,600 (5:19.07); Leah Gholson in the 100 high hurdles (16.06); Weigert in the shot put (34-103/4); the 4x400 relay team of Savannah Melan, Allison Fochs, Wegmann and Powell (4:10.44); and the 4x800 relay of Lindsey Miller, Anna Keller, Kimmy Hartlieb and Allie Levin (10:20.36).

Other finishes of note included: 400, Melan, third (1:01.5); 800, Wegmann, third (2:26.44), and Powell, fourth (2:29.24); 1,600, Zanelle Willemse, fourth (5:20.09); 3,200, Willemse, third (11:53.01) and Levin, fourth (11:58.03).

'You just hope that certain events come through for you or that kids perform higher than they are seeded,' said Krueger. 'So many did: the 400, the 4x100, the high jump and the distance girls.'

One of the nicer notes about the title was who was there to cheer on the Highlanders.

Junior Grace Karegeannes was supposed to be a top returning runner for the Highlanders, but stress fractures in her foot cost her the season.

'But she still comes out here and supports us every meet, without fail,' said Krueger. 'Just a lot of little things like that made this so great.'