Menomonee Falls boys track coach Mike Burling took awhile to wrap his head around the events of the last few weeks and digest the idea that this best ever Indian team had just won the best WIAA sectional meet in the state Friday night and had advanced a record nine individuals and two relays to next week's state meet in La Crosse.
"At the beginning of the year, I thought we could be a top five or seven team in state," he said, "but to win conference, regional and sectional championships in a row. No, I never saw that coming. There are just too many good teams in this sectional. Always too many good teams (Arrowhead, Homestead and Germantown among others)."
"...I'm just in shock. In awe. It's about the kids, all about the kids They bought into everything we've asked of them and they're just some of the most competitive guys I've ever seen."
Falls has now won five major meets in a row, and has not lost since the Greater Metro Conference Relays in the first week of May.
It is also the first time that the Indians have ever won both WIAA regional and sectional titles in the same year. The last time they won a sectional was when they shared it with Arrowhead in 1994. In 1976, the Falls North team won regional and finished a close second to Brookfield Central in the sectional.
Falls scored 120 points to outdistance Arrowhead, which had been ranked first in the area and had been near the top in state power rankings all season (108.5). North Shore triple crown champ Homestead was third with 97.
The Indians were led by four-time qualifier Matt Widule, who broke Luke Bibis' two-year school record in the 110 high hurdles and who will have the top seed in the state with a 14.21 second clocking. He also came back to win the 300 intermediate hurdles in a personal best of 38.97 and took second in the long jump (21-1).
"We want to win this bad boy (sectional)," said a pumped Widule after winning the 300s. "We'd really like to win it. People said it was an upset (when Falls won the regional on Tuesday), but we didn't think it was."
And just to go out and prove it, Widule also led off the remarkable 800 relay team that included Brad Tietyen, Bryan Aldridge and Washington Farrington. All that group did was record a school record, a track record and the top time in the state with a sizzling 1:27.88 time. The old school mark of 1:28.5 set in 2005 and was thought to be one of the most solid marks in the Falls program.
In fact, only Milwaukee Vincent's state record of 1:27.29 set last year is better in Wisconsin history.
"We had been working with the 400 relay all spring, but we saw that there were going to be some crazy times in that race, so we thought we'd try something different," Farrington said. "Sometimes it's a little taboo for us in this race (fast times, but occasional blow-ups), but this felt smooth. We'd worked so hard on the hand-offs for the 400 and got them right. It made it much easier for us in the 800."
Farrington continued his work by qualifying second in the 100 (10.92) and third in the 200 (22.39).
"I'm tired, but I'm a good tired," he said. "It's part of the job. A job I love."
Others also displayed that love as Tyler Trokan took second in the 400 (49.58) and then brought the 1,600 relay team of Nick Zeman, Max Poeske, and Tietyen back to a third-place qualifying spot in an intense field with a 3:22.23 clocking. Trokan had been part of a 1,600 relay last year that had narrowly missed out on a state berth.
"I don't know what to say about all this," he said, as the relay put the final touches on the spectacular day. "Maybe we were a little bit underestimated, but the coaches just used that as motivation. ..This is going to be something to remember, that's for sure."
Other Indian qualifiers included first-time advancers Isaac Newman in the 1,600 (second place and personal best 4:26.07), Stewart Van Horne in the 800 (second and PB 1:57.49) and Derek Schmidt in the triple jump (third place 42-11 1/2).
"We always knew we had a good team," Van Horne said. "It was just a matter of putting things together."
Germantown boys and girls also had spectacular sectionals. The Warhawk boys finished fourth of 14 with 75 points and qualified individuals in eight slots. Two-time qualifier Dexter Schleis led the way, as he was second in the 300 hurdles (39.59) and third in the 110 high hurdles (14.83).
Other Warhawks advancing included the pole vault brother duo of Wes (second 13-0) and Mitch Heupel (third 12-9), Tim Trapp in the 3,200 (third 9:42.7), Eric Kindler in the high jump (third 6-4), and the shot put duo of Bryan Keys (second 50-1) and Mike Dhein (third 49-9 1/2).
"What a day," Warhawk co-coach Jeff Schreiber said. "This all started in conference and then built through regional. This feels very good and it's the result of a lot of hard work. There was a lot of doubt at the beginning of the season (with a new coaching staff), but we got a lot of people to buy into it and make the unattainable, attainable."
The Warhawk girls were almost as impressive, also taking fourth with 62 points (Arrowhead won with 127.5 points), and advancing four individuals and two relays.
The jewels in the crown for Germantown were wins in both the 1.600 and 3,200 relays. The 3,200 crew of MacKenzie Erdmann, Andrea Sielicki, Caitlin Dillon, and Lizzie Wendt opened the meet with an impressive 9:33.79 and then the crew of Meredith Humiston, Dillon, Wendt and Sielicki closed the meet with an equally imposing 4:01.02 clocking.
In between, Wendt (2:17.55) and Sielicki (2:17.6) went one-two in the 800 and Dillon was second in the 1,600 (5:22.82) while Dana Graunke took second in the high jump (5-1).
"We just want to keep our traditions going," Sielicki said of the 3,200 relay, of which she has been part of three straight trips to state. "We wanted to go into state with the best position possible because our goal this year is get onto the (medal) stand."
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