Jacob Stugelmeyer recently graduated from Franklin High School and like far too many of his classmates from across the state, he didn’t get to finish out his senior year in school, he didn’t get to graduate with all the proper hoopla and excitement, and he didn’t get too complete his final season of sports.
Hannah Ross, meanwhile, is a freshman just figuring out what she would like to do in sports while also looking for something to do this summer.
Which brought both of them to the intersection of track in July sponsored by the WIAA and Franklin coaches John Troy and Jack Hervert, as the Sabers hosted a “White Vs. Gold” intra-squad meet July 14.
It was one of the first chances anyone in Franklin or southeastern Wisconsin for that matter, has had at actually competing in four months.
The WIAA wisely shut down the state basketball tournaments in March before completion and then did the same to all spring sports just a week or so after track practice began because of the Covid pandemic.
The WIAA did give schools the option to engage their spring athletes with an additional 30 contact days in July, just to give the kids, especially the seniors, a sense of completion.
Some schools with proper precautions have embraced the idea, others out of safety concerns, did not.
Franklin chose to do so, which led to an interesting but telling moment July 14 down at the Sabers’ track. No fans were allowed in, but a couple of invited guests, myself included, were allowed in but only after agreeing to wear a mask and answering a detailed list of health questions from a masked Franklin staffer.
Everyone, except for the athletes, were wearing masks and making good attempts at social distancing. This was the second such intra-squad meet organized by the Sabers’ boys coach Troy and girls coach Hervert.
They’ve been working with the kids since July 1 and Troy noted happily that on most days that around 40 kids total are taking advantage of the opportunity to stay in shape and become part of a team again.
“The (first) meet we had on Friday night (July 10) was fantastic,” he said. “We’ve been working the kids everyday of the week and then we decided to give them a chance to compete.”
“Kids are feeling good about the experience,” added Hervert. “We’re getting the kids some work for about 30 days and we have a number of them who are feeling very good about sports again, feeling very good about the sport of track.
“It was very good that the WIAA gave us these (contact) days and for our administration (including Athletic Director Jordan Hein) to support us. I think the kids will benefit greatly from this.”
And the meet was set up as normal with proper officiating and with Trackside Timing providing the results (you can find the full list of meet results at tracksidetiming.com).
There were mostly boys’ events with a few co-ed races (1,600 and 800 meters) and a few girls events (100, 200 and 400 dashes) tossed in too. Most involved freshmen and sophomores, but a few graduated seniors like Stugelmeyer took part too.
Which led to the most curious event of the night. Stugelmeyer was to run both the 110 high and the 300 intermediate hurdles, but in both instances, his opponents dropped out before the meet (Troy said some kids were held out as a precaution for injury reasons).
Stugelmeyer ran the highs with an assistant coach serving as a pacer in an adjacent lane. He laughed and complained loudly at the finish about having hit almost every hurdle along the way. His time was still a respectable 16.13 seconds, just a bit off his personal best of 15.3.
And at first it was decided not to run the 300 intermediates, but later it was added back in when an opponent Stugelmeyer has a great deal of familiarity with was added.
His UW-Platteville student and track athlete big brother Cole Stugelmeyer.
There was much hooting and hollering as both turned in respectable times in the hotly contested race. Big brother Cole got the best of little brother Jacob by about a meter or two. His time was about 42.2 while Jacob was clocked in at 42.71, which he said was better than anything he ran his junior year (43.8 best time).
Jacob Stugelmeyer, who is going to UW-Madison to major in mechanical engineering, was happy just to be out with a few friends, feeling like part of a team again.
“This was great,” he said. “It’s very nice to have this opportunity. I hadn’t had a chance to do anything (in track) since my last meet (last season) so I didn’t know how good I would be. It was a lot of fun.”
Meanwhile, the underclassman Ross was just out there running, and running and running. First taking part in the co-ed 1,600, then finishing second to teammate Aiden Yee in the 400, then coming back to be competitive in the 800 and then just for the heck of it, charging out there for the last race of the day, the 200 dash.
Technically, track athletes are limited to four events per meet and if they do compete in four events, one of them has to be a field event, but the rules were bent this night because Ross just wanted to keep running.
Even after her last race, the 200, she could be seen smiling, laughing it up with her teammates, seemingly fresh as a daisy. When asked if she had gotten her money’s worth out of the meet, she just laughed and said “Yes!”
Sabers’ assistant coach Dick Dodd chimed in with a chuckle and suggested that Ross add a few field events and become a heptathlete.
It was just that kind of evening and it helped make up a little for all the “what ifs” and “what could have happened” questions that were lurking about if the Sabers and everyone else in the state had been able to run this season.
Hervert just just shrugged sadly but with an air of understanding. The Sabers had finished seventh in the state meet in 2019 and would have been loaded for 2020 with savvy state meet veterans like Nadia Vo, Clare Pitcher and others.
“I think we could have been better than the 1999 team (which finished second in state),” he said. “Very comparable. This (senior) class had scored more (meet) points than just about any other class we had even without this year.
“But things happened. The kids adjusted and life moved on.”
Meanwhile, Troy, Hervert and several of their staff will carry on, running practices and keeping kids busy for a few more weeks. A potential dual meet with area rival Oak Creek is in the discussion phase later this month and would create a lot of interest.
“It was a fun night,” said Troy of July 14. “We actually had a few parents outside of the fence cheering which was great for everyone.”
The coaches are also heartened by the participation level, especially from graduated seniors like Jacob Stugelmeyer.
“This has been an absolute blast,” said Dodd, also the Sabers’ boys cross country coach, which is slated to start practice in about a month (cross your fingers). “The season would have officially ended a month ago (with state) so the kids don’t have to be out here busting their tails.
“But here they are.”
FIRST PLACE FINISHES
Triple jump–Brian Weissmann, 40-5. Long jump–Weissmann, 18- 10 1/2. 200–Logan Matthews, 23.89. 800–Carson Kerlin, 2:22.94. 300 intermediate hurdles–Jacob Stugelmeyer, 42.71. 400–Quinn Sullivan, 55.1. Discus–Noah Jessup, 136-7. 1,600–Drew Shipley, 5:16.8. 100–Daniel Martens, 11.84. 110 high hurdles–Stugelmeyer, 16.13. 4 x 200 relay–Pablo Ewert, Evan Haskey, Daksh Jain and Daksh Arora, 1:46.41.
What a great article…well said! And well done to the Franklin Coaches and Athletes- making the most of these unpredictable days we find ourselves navigating ~ Congrats on all their ‘Wins’ and good luck on the incoming races! ❤️This!