Veteran Homestead boys track coach Dan Benson has been at his job a long time and is known for his attention to detail and fierce concentration.
He also has a sense of whimsy about him.
So when he discovered much to his relief, that his balanced and deep Highlanders had indeed earned the North Shore Conference outdoor title on a warm and windy May 16 day in Cedarburg, he was asked what he would do to celebrate.
He laughed and yelled “Cartwheel!”
Also being a prudent soul, he did not do that of course, but no one would have blamed him if he did.
The Highlanders scored 141.5 points to win their first title since the last five in a row they claimed in 2013 and outdistance defending champion Whitefish Bay (127.5).
They did it with their customary depth.
Homestead earned only three first places, Drew Bosley in the 1,600 meters (4:26.95), Thomas Miller in the 3,200 (9:52.06) and Tim Rodd in the shot put (52 feet- 1/4 inch), but they had plenty to back up those winners.
“The thing is, you can’t play defense in track,” said Benson, “but we just kept rolling. We scored points in every event. We weren’t pretty in some events, but we were in enough. All 18 events without a ‘O’. That’s something.”
Miller, who backed up Bosley with a second in the 1,600 (4:30.75), said the Highlanders stayed low-key in the lead-up to the meet.
“We really didn’t talk much about the team title,” he said. “We just stayed focused and tried to do well in our event groups. But seeing as we had also won the (league) relays title, it (the championship) was definitely in the back of our minds.”
The distance group was one area that did come through big for the Highlanders despite less-than-ideal 80-plus degree temperatures and gusty 20-plus mile an hour winds.
The Highlanders went two-three in the 800 with Bosley taking second (2:00.96) and Noah Cummisford third (2:04.03) to go along with the one-two effort in the 1,600 and Miller’s victory in the 3,200.
Miller said it was a hard slog in the warm conditions.
“It was really tough for eight laps,” he said after the 3,200. “That’s why I tucked in behind someone else for a few laps (before taking the lead).”
Rodd won the shot put by close to four feet in earning his victory.
Other good efforts for the Highlanders included a second by Tyler Brown in the high jump (6-1), thirds by Lief Erlandson in the 400 dash (51.05), the 4×100 relay team of Willie Garrison III, Matt Hartlieb, Jared Schneider and Corey DeToro (44.07); Jacob Boehlke in the pole vault (12-6), and Schneider in the triple jump (42-6 1/2).
Garrison III turned in a fast 10.91 time in the trials of the 100 dash before settling for fourth in the finals (11;01), and Schneider was the same in the 300 intermediate hurdles (41.77), as was the 4×400 relay team of Brad Woldt, Eric Rodd, Zion Bullock and Erlandson (3:34.5).
Miller said the team is ready for the upcoming WIAA state qualifying meets that begin Monday, May 22 with regionals.
“Guys are PRing and the workouts have been going really well,” he said. “We’ll see what happens.”
Defending champ Bay also had a strong meet and was led by first place finishes by Rhys Koch in the 800 (2:00.66), and the 4×200 relay team of RayQuan Bolden, Cade Garcia, Henry Primack and Evan Murray (1:31.0).
Michael Kirkendoll earned three seconds in the 110 high hurdles (15.03), long jump (21-11 1/2), and the triple jump (44-7 1/2).
Other seconds went to Murray in the 200 dash (21.67) and Koch in the 400 (50.82) while thirds went to Murray in the 100 (a spectacular 10.62), Eli Dyer in the 1,600 (4:35.24), the 4×400 relay team of Rowan and Rhys Koch, Primack, and Bo Bassindale (3:30.66); and Nolan Wollmer in the high jump (6-1),.
The long jump was a very deep event this year as seven athletes went over 21-feet including Bolden in fourth (21-8) and Wollmer in sixth (21-3 1/2).