In the past, the Whitefish Bay girls track team consisted usually of a strong distance corps and a smattering of other good athletes.
Though entertaining and competitive, the Blue Dukes only rarely broke through in a big way at conference meets as deeper squads like Homestead would usually overpower it.
No more, as was the case at the North Shore Outdoor in Cedarburg Tuesday night.
The Blue Dukes displayed their usual prowess in the distances as Kenzie Vicker and Emma-Lisa Murphy went one-two in both the 1,600 and 3,200-meters, and they were also widely represented throughout all disciplines as they earned a remarkably easy title in the league finale.
"We're always nervous," said coach Ben Van Male. "Our distance kids were awesome, that's true, but our depth was amazing. We had so many kids step up and place high in events."
The Blue Dukes scored 146 1/2 points as Nicolet was second with 96 1/2, league relays champ Homestead was third with 84 and Germantown fourth with 83.
Nothing symbolized the Blue Dukes team concept more than the relationship between Vicker and Murphy. Vicker, coming off a year of injury and frustration, looked more and more like the person who won the state 3,200 meter title in 2009 while Murphy has fought her way back from a spring filled with shin splints and an annoying virus.
"We had this whole goal of just doing the best we could for the team," said Murphy. "We started out slow and then we would separate ourselves (from the rest of the field)."
"...and we're perfect training partners. We spent all spring break training. The more we push each other, the better it is for each other. And it's just been awesome to be on this team this year. Everyone paddles around in their individual events and we bring it all together for one goal."
Vicker took that concept even further praising the victorious 3,200 relay team of Emily Garcia, Tenley Brown, Alana Blegen and Ally Spiroff (10:09.36) as well as freshman Sara Coffey in the 1,600 (eighth 5:57.14).
"We're getting so many people back now, we're just going to be that much deeper," she said. "I'm just so proud of them all and I'm feeling so much better now. I'm really back into it."
Vicker was clocked in 5:16.87 in taking the 1,600 and 11:24.99 in taking the 3,200. Murphy was clocked in 5:22.28 in the 1,600 and 11:34.21 in the 3,200.
Also in the distance group, Spiroff was fourth in the 800 (2:26.55) while Garcia was seventh (2:32.2).
Elsewhere, as Van Male pointed out, other areas also shared in the load as the pole vault pair of Nawoo Kim (9-6) and Sofie Yang (9-3 1/4), also went one-two.
Other finishes of note for the Blue Dukes included seconds from Mady Vicker in the 400 (1:00.73), Frankie Carroll in the high jump (5-0) and the 1,600 relay team of Spiroff, Anna Bednarczyk, Kelsey Reed and Mady Vicker (4:14.82).
Van Male, whose team also won the league indoor, said losing the relays title two weeks ago provided some strong incentive heading into the outdoor.
"We thought that meet was ours to win and we just let it slip away," he said of the relays. "It put a little fire in our bellies."
The Nicolet girls got a victory from Gaby Bronson in the shot put (37-1) and used a balanced effort in earning its spot.
Coach Brian Sommers said the team is hitting its stride just at the right time.
Earning seconds for the Knights were the 800 relay team of Surya Chionesu, Ashley Jones, Jnana Martin and Allison Maling (1:51.9) and Bronson in the discus (109-6).
Thirds went to Martin in the 100 (13.09), Ashley Green in the 400 (1:02.48), Laura LeBrun in the pole vault (9-3) and Devon Peck in the shot put (35-5 1/2).
Homestead's Marissa Savitch concluded her NSC career with a bang, destroying her own meet record and setting an unofficial all-time state best with a 14.1 clocking in the trials of the 100 high hurdles before settling on a 14.48 time in the finals. She also came back to claim the 300 low hurdles (48.35) and take second in the long jump (16-5 1/4).
She benefitted from a strong tailwind in the 100 hurdles.
"It felt so good," she said of the trials race. "The second one wasn't as clean but I' just so happy with that prelim time. I was hurt for a short time and lost some training so people were talking about the bad weather and the rain and anything else why I wasn't as fast as last year."
"I just didn't want to make excuses, so I'm working very hard trying to stay positive and I'm very excited about this race."
Also showing character for the Highlanders was Lauren Holtz, who led most of the way in the 800. She was ambushed late by Milwaukee Lutheran's Courtney Kalous, but then made a powerful surge in the backstretch into the teeth of a strong headwind to win by just .22 of a second in 2:22.26.
"I was surprised when she came up on me," said Holtz, "At first, I thought it was Keali (teammate Keali Bjork) but when I saw it was her (Kalous), I just decided to take off. It was a fun race. I wasn't sure if I would get her at the end."
Monica Caputa was also third in the long jump (15-5 3/4).
Germantown got a victory from sophomore Sammie Gassner in the 200 (27.37) as she rallied past Nicolet's Green in the final meters while seconds went to Jennifer Ellis in the 100 high hurdles (16.6) and 300 low hurdles (49.15), Beth Kuske in the triple jump (33-2) and Melissa Asmondy in the shot put (35-6).
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