Highlanders win prestigious Warhawks meet
Team's depth helps them continue to build on its success
Mequon — Giants have always run, jumped and thrown their way into history at the Germantown Invitational track meet.
Olympian and world champion Kenny Harrison of Brookfield Central in the triple jump, NCAA cross country winner Tim Hacker (of Menomonee Falls) in the distances and a host of other frighteningly talented high-level performers.
This was the meet where Manitowoc once ran an unheard of 3:20.3 mid-season 1,600 relay under the legendary coach Earl Herbert simply because it could.
It's a safe bet that that record is not likely to be broken anytime soon.
Yes, this is a meet made for the best, which was clearly on display Friday when at its 52nd incarnation, there were five meet records, nine new state-best times (at least one of which, the 1,600 relay, was usurped later in the weekend) and a host of other top 10 state honor roll efforts turned in by the 17-school field.
Team in top form
Homestead continued its dominant early run with an easy victory over the host Warhawks while Menomonee Falls was fourth.
Justin Barber led the way for Homestead, winning both the shot put and the discus (the latter effort being a meet and school record as well as a state best).
Other victories went to Danny Schiller (meet record effort in the high jump), Brad Pelisek (in the long jump on his last attempt), Gabe Genovesi (400 in a state-best time) and the 1,600 relay (a then state-best time despite using just the third through sixth best relay runners).
Highlanders coach Dan Benson knows the importance of winning a meet like this and what it portends, as his squad stayed unbeaten against Wisconsin teams this season.
"This is probably the best early season invite and no doubt the best April invite in the state," Benson said. "You look at who they bring in ... and all of a sudden, you're looking at the heat sheet and you wind up saying 'Whoa, how do we compete with this?' "
"This has always been high-caliber stuff," added Falls coach Mike Burling, whose team won at Germantown in 2009. "It's always been a heavy hitter's meet. You've always had to be ready to go. You finish in the top five here, you know you have a pretty good team."
And the Warhawks staff intend it that way.
"It's fun to be a part of it," said Germantown co-coach Andy Bavlnka. "Obviously, it's not as much fun hosting it and getting all the work done, but it's important to be a part of it."
Homestead assistant coach and former Warhawks head coach Todd Brawner understands that concept. He helped resurrect the powerhouse meet made famous by Warhawks coaching legends Bill Pohland and Jack Stiever in 1998, as another way to help bring about a resurgence of the Germantown program.
School needed new track
"It had been gone for about six years (in the mid-1990s)," said Brawner, "but the mind-set I brought into it was that we needed a new track facility rather badly so why not host a meet, as many meets as possible in fact to demonstrate that need.
"And lo and behold, about a year later (1998) a referendum was passed and we got a whole new stadium."
Under Brawner's direction, Germantown hosted that first revitalized invitational in 1998 on the old beat-up track. In 1999, while the Germantown facility was undergoing reconstruction, Homestead, with Brawner's current boss Benson at the helm, helped out by hosting the meet.
The event has been a premiere early season track festival ever since.
"I was working with Bill (Pohland) and Jack (Stiever) during that time and got a whole box of stuff with records and other things from Bill," Brawner said. "They really helped me organize it."
He heightened interest by keeping all the old records and making sure they were prominently listed in the program. This was done so the athletes, fans and coaches know the caliber and history of the event they were attending.
"In fact Coach Benson brought that up (the significance of the event)," said Brawner. "I'm not sure how it rings with the current athlete, but it is important to remember. … We just wanted to promote the sport then. That's what all the grills and cookouts and T-shirts (in the early days) were all about: To give everyone something to hang their hats on."
"We took great pride and great satisfaction in doing something right. It was a good thing."
"There's a lot of fun at a meet like this," he said, "and a lot of pressure, too. … It's a quality invite with a lot of history behind it."
With a winner that showed the proper respect for it.
"We got to run and run well in a high-caliber meet with great competition and better than decent April weather," Benson said. "I say we made progress."
Team scores (top 10): Homestead 133.5; Germantown 94.5; Bay Port 76.5; Menomonee Falls 71.5; Milwaukee Vincent 69; Neenah 59; Sussex Hamilton 55; Oshkosh North 41; Nicolet 26; and Milwaukee Hamilton 15
Meet records: high jump: Danny Schiller, Homestead (6-9, old mark 6-8); discus: Justin Barber, Homestead (179-6, old mark 166-7); 800 relay: Milwaukee Vincent (1:29.98, old mark 1:30.0); 3,200 relay: Bay Port (8:09.91, old mark 8:10.7); 3,200: Marcus Paulson, Sussex Hamilton (9:25.55, old mark 9:29.8)
Homestead highlights: high jump: Schiller, first (6-9); Alex Butovskiy, fifth (5-8); long jump: Brad Pelisek, first (22-2); Zach Enea, second (21-5.5); shot put: Barber, first (57-3.5); Max Vielmetti, fifth (47-4); 110 high hurdles: Taylor Ruffin, sixth (15.45); 800 relay: Xavier Crumpton, Matt Sama, Igor Sulim and Matt Stern, fourth (1:33.89); 400: Gabe Genovesi, first (state best 49.25); Doug Mueller, third (50.74); 400 relay: Crumpton, Sama, Sulim and Stern, fourth (44.7); 300 intermediate hurdles: Ruffin, third (40.85); 800: Nate Routhier, sixth (1:59.97); 200: Genovesi, second (22.69); Mike Collins, fourth (23.41); 1,600 relay: Andrew Holtorf, Sulim, Ruffin and Collins, first (state best 3:26.72); discus: Barber, first (state best 179-6); pole vault: Jake Ziebart, fifth (12-6); triple jump: Brian Hoffmann, third (41-8.5); and 3,200 relay: Routhier, Mike Cronce, Cody Berger and Holtorf, third (8:16.04).
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