Mike Collins said that earlier in the week when he and other members of the potentially ground-breaking Homestead boys 1,600-meter relay team got the word they were going to get a chance at running together in an important meet like the North Shore Conference Relays on Wednesday they could hardly contain themselves.
"We all jumped up when we got the text message," he said, "and we were texting each other all day at school. Not that we would do that during class (laughs). Honestly, we'd been waiting for this. Everyone had been working so hard in practice."
And that anticipation turned into scorching results, as the unit that included Collins, Andrew Holtorf, Doug Mueller and Gabe Genovesi took down an important 20-year old meet record in putting the final touches on an impressive team title for the Highlanders.
The unit's crazy fast 3:19.79 was not only a school and a NSC relays record as well as new state best, but it also put them on track to possibly take down the state mark in June, as the relays standard (3:21.0) they broke was none other than that set by the same state mark holding Nicolet crew of 1990.
"I was starting to feel it in the final 20 meters," said Genovesi, who anchored the crew's effort with a blistering 47-second plus 400 clocking, "but I was looking at the clock and I didn't care what I was feeling. I just had to finish it."
So excited by the mark was the crew that they raced over to the Cedarburg scoreboard which still had the unofficial clocking on it for a quick picture.
The record also allowed Genovesi to come full circle on the day, as he opened the meet by anchoring the sprint medley relay team of Matt Sama, Igor Sulim, and Matt Stern to another record (1:33.25) as he pulled past Whitefish Bay's fine 400 runner Davontae Johnson in the final stretch.
It led one Cedarburg runner to shake his head in amazement and tell Genovesi: "What planet are you from?"
Apparently, it's "Planet Fast", as the Highlanders roared to an imposing 10-event win, 133-point total, well ahead of Germantown (101), which had thrown a scare into the defending league triple crown champions at the league indoor last month.
Whitefish Bay tied with Port Washington for a distant third with 47 and Nicolet was seventh with 26.
"It was a good time, and a good message to them about where they are at in their training," said Highlander coach Dan Benson of the 1,600 relay team's sensational effort. "It's good feedback for them."
And as impressed as Benson was with his elite performer's efforts, he was also pleased as punch by several of his depth people, as others had to step up on this day as injuries took a toll in the jumps and the pole vault.
"As I've told you, the relays meet is the toughest meet to win," he said, "because you only score 10 points in a given event. I tell you I had a couple of sleepless nights this week because key performers (like Brad Pelisek and Jake Ziebart) had nicks that would hold them out or limit them in this meet. We were looking at good JV performers to step up and they did."
It was enough to lead Germantown co-coaches Andy Bavlnka and Jeff Schreiber to sit on the steps at Cedarburg and just shake their heads in amazement.
"There's no secret," said Bavlnka. "Homestead is just better."
That they are.
Other Highlander firsts went to the 800 relay team of Sama, Collins, Genovesi and Xavier Crumpton (season best and state honor roll time of 1:29.89); the 3,200 relay of Sulim, Cody Berger, Mike Cronce and Nate Routhier (8:21.17); the distance medley team of Mueller, Holtorf, Cronce and Routhier (10:44.35); the high jump unit of Danny Schiller (event best 6-2), Adam Scheer, and Alex Butovskiy; the long unit of Taylor Ruffin (event best 21-9 1/2), Zach Enea and Schiller; the shot put unit of Justin Barber (state best 59-2 1/2), Max Vielmetti and Kyle Schober; and the discus trio of Barber (event best 158-9), Vielmetti and Mike Rooney.
But aside from the 1,600 relay, no victory exemplified what kind of day it was for Homestead than that of the pole vault trio of Matt Savage (event and personal best 13-0), T.J. Ausman and Brendan Cullen. The unit was down its best man (Ziebart) but still rolled to the event title.
"People just stepped up," Benson said.
"We knew what we had going into this meet," said Genovesi. "We just had to run our hardest and hope that the final results were good."
Germantown, which had some issues with no heights and some occasionally flat races, were led by the hurdle crew paced by Dexter Schleis. Schleis set a new state best in the 300 intermediates (38.6), as he led the trio that included Brad Geisthardt and Ben Holcomb to an easy win. Homestead's Taylor Ruffin moved up on the state honor roll with a personal best of 39.47.
"When I saw Matt (Widule of Menomonee Falls) run that 38.7 last week (in the 300s at the Marquette Invite) I told myself I had to go out there and get a fast time myself," Schleis said. "I just kept thinking to myself that I had to do that."
Earlier in the meet, Schleis, Holcomb and Geisthardt cruised to a victory in the 330 high hurdle shuttle (48.83).
Seconds for Germantown included the 1,600 relay team of Jake Richmond, Ben Baus, Nick Skidmore and Sean Pawlak (3:31.06); the 3,200 unit of Mike Feilbach, Jake Scaduto, Kenny Haferkorn, and Tim Trapp (8:25.92); the 6,400 relay of Kyle Hartmann, Gary Hackney, Adam Schueller and Baus (19:12.39); the distance medley of Haferkorn, Scaduto, Skidmore and Trapp (10:47.15); the shot put team of Bryan Keys (school record 57-10), Mitch Kannenberg and Max Budiac; the high jump trio of Eric Kindler, Dane Collins and Sam Midlikowski; and the long jump team of Schleis, Peter Winarski, and Jordan Infield.
"We were a little off for some reason," said Bavlnka. "We just didn't see as good as performances as we've been used to."
Bay, which was still slowed by two disqualifications in the sprints, got victories from the 400 relay team of Paul Davis, Alex Jamerson, Javontae Merriwether and Davontae Johnson (state honor roll time of 43.34) and from the 6,400 team of Casey Easterday, Devon Lawler, Mike Camirelli and Tommy Koehn (19:07.34) and a second from the 800 sprint medley team of Brandon Threats, Jamerson, Merriwether and Johnson (1:34.23).
"We're still a work in progress," said Blue Duke coach Joe Saggio.
Nicolet was paced by a second from the 400 relay team of Lamar Johnson-Harris, Winston Hermann, Brandon Kappel and Christian Smith (43.41) and thirds from the sprint medley team of Johnson-Harris, Hermann, Smith and Jeff McClain (1:35.6) and the long jump trio of Kappel, Johnson-Harris and Hermann.
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