As well as being coach of the seven-time Southeast Conference champion Oak Creek boys track team, Rick Stack is also a fan of his sport and it’s usual high-level one-on-one brand of competition.
It was Friday, May 12 at Creek, all the on-track races were done, and the Knights’ latest SEC championship was wrapped up.
But the finals of the long jump were still going on. Instead of accepting congratulations and celebrating, Stack was still being a coach, standing at the rope line watching intently as his jumpers James Carter and Roy Hayden were battling hard for medals.
The pair were caught up in a tight competition with Kenosha Indian Trail state title contender Armani Carmickle, who would wind up winning the event with an effort of 22 feet- 1/2 inch). The junior Carter took second (21-8) and the senior Hayden third (20-9), but what Stack was really thrilled about was the intensity of the effort.
“It’s just good for the conference to have this level of competition,” he said. “Even in the 1,600 relay (the last race of the day), when Franklin nipped us right at the end, that really had a great feel to it. It’s what sport is all about.”
The Knights look to carryover those strong feelings when they start the WIAA state series with regionals on Monday, May 22.
They will be building off a dominant effort in the Southeast meet as they scored 195 points for their title as Franklin was a distant second with 118.
Oak Creek, which has littered the state honor roll with high-level efforts in recent weeks, used its depth to win the meet as the Knights earned just three individual firsts in claiming the crown.
Sophomore Ryan Potter continued his sensational season with an honor roll worthy effort of 48.99 seconds to take the 400-meter dash. His brother Steven was then second (1:57.79) to teammate and 2016 state placewinner Michael Sippy (1:55.77) in the 800.
Carter picked up a first of his own in the high jump (6-2) and was a close second to the powerful Carmickle again in the triple jump with an imposing 46-11 effort.
Seconds included that 4×400 relay team of Ryan and Steven Potter, Sam Phelps and Sippy (3:25.78); Steven Potter in the 1,600 (4:31.1); Will Klebenow in the discus (132-1), and Nick Dulaney in the shot put (48-0).
Thirds were earned by the 4×800 relay team of Tanner Gardner, Seth Rocha, Simon Menako and Tyler Kisting (8:34.92); Carter in the 110 high hurdles (16.18); Cornelius Bright in the 100 dash ( 11.03), Sippy in the 400 (50.43), the 4×100 relay team of Bright, Dulaney, Ryan Harvey-Turner and Ethan Myers (43.85); Ryan Potter in the 200 dash (22.32), and Kisting in the 3,200 (9:56.18).
“It was a real top-to-bottom effort in all the events,” said Stack. “Sprints, field events, distance, the cream really rose to the top today. The kids just competed strongly across the board.”
He cited the efforts of Sippy and Steven Potter in the 800 and Carter for his across the board contributions.
“That was a great jumps’ competition,” he said again.
Stack said he can’t wait to see how the state series of meets play out.
“We’ll have the extra three days to regroup and rest (most league outdoor meets will be held Tuesday, May 16), and then we’ll clean up a few things and get ready to go,” he said.
To compete hard once again.
Franklin was led by the first from the 4×400 relay team of Joe Hasenstein, AJ Catarozolli, Carter Snelson and Chris Rafalski (3:25.34); and a one-two effort in the pole vault from Tyler Stanisz (13-0) and Dawson Ziegler (12-6).
Bryce Tome was also second in the 3,200 (9:52.57), as was Rafalski in the 400 (50.16), and Mike Hennig in the 110 high hurdles (15.53).