The chances for the Whitefish Bay boys track team repeating as state champions in the 400 and 800 relays took a major hit on Monday, when the Blue Dukes, dropped the baton in the 400 relay in the regional meet.
So, behind an inspired effort from anchor runner Brandon Threats, the Blue Dukes made up for that mistake in a swift manner that reminded everyone that they are still state champs until proven otherwise next week in La Crosse.
Threats chased down the anchor runner from Riverside as the Bay unit that included Rashadeem Gray, Tommy Friesch, and James Stecker won the 800 relay in the WIAA sectional meet at Menomonee Falls in a state best time of 1:27.83 as Riverside recorded the second-best clocking of 1:27.91.
"We spent all week working on exchanges," said Threats. "We changed the order a little bit and went from there. As far as the race was concerned, I saw that I was behind and I knew I had to step it up as a senior. Just make a difference any way I could."
Threats' thrilling finish led a series of strong area efforts as teams sent athletes to the WIAA State Meet in La Crosse, June 1 and 2.
In addition, Threats also won the 200 in 22.12, as Gray made it in the 110 high hurdles (14.88). Bay also had Gray's brother Rhashad qualify in the high jump (6-2) and also saw distance runner Nate Gomoll earn a berth in the 1,600 in 4:22.27.
Athletes heading into the homestretch had to contend with a howling, warm southerly wind on Thursday.
Homestead also had its share of drama as the top-ranked 1,600 relay team of Bryce Juedes, DeAngelo Dantzler, Brett Geschke and Jay Schneider had to rally to earn the third and final state berth in 3:21.66.
Schneider had to make up a lot of ground to earn that third and final spot on the anchor leg.
Other qualifiers for Homestead included Mensah Amuzu in the discus (157-11), return qualifier Riley Pelisek in the triple jump (45-4 1/2) and Schneider in the 200 (22.66).
Nicolet's Brandon Kappel took advantage of an injury to the state's best sprinter Jalen Gillie of Riverside, to win the 100 in 10.98 and also anchored the 400 relay team of Denzel Allen, and DeAnte and DeVante Coleman to victory in a season best time of 42.22.
Germantown was led by twin hurdle champion Ben Holcomb. Holcomb won the 110 highs in a school record 14.23 and later cruised to victory in the 300 intermediates (38.76).
He will be joined at state by teammates Chasen Brown in the 100 dash (11.01), Bobby Stemm in the discus (137-10), and the 3,200 relay team of Tommy Adair, Cory Rhind, Zach Baus and Adam Schueller (8:09.67).
Host Falls got a repeat qualifying berth from 400 runner Matt Christensen (50.8).
In addition, all those athletes who did not finish in the top three of their respective event, can still advance to the state meet if their efforts are among the eight best of all sectionals statewide.
Arrowhead won the sectional with 135 points, while Homestead was second with 81, Bay third with 68, Germantown fourth with 64, Nicolet 10th (33) and Falls 11th (25).
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