Incentive came in many forms for the Brown Deer boys track team as it slowly made its way toward the Woodland Conference Relays title on May 1.
And the reasons behind the incentive were inextricably linked.
The first was the perception that the Falcons were one- or two-trick ponies with state champions Justin Austin and Isiah Gray backed up by not too much.
The second was a feeling that the team might fall apart like a house of cards if one of the top people went down.
Neither case was true as the Falcons worked steadily for the second leg of the league triple crown, nudging out Wauwatosa West, 100-95, for the team title in the 12-school event.
"Conference relays really shows your team depth," Brown Deer coach Rob Green said. "You can't win it with just a few individuals. You have to have depth and as our numbers have gone up over the years, so has our success at meets like this."
The Falcons also hosted their own invite on May 5. The highlight of that meet was Gray's school record 48.7 seconds in the 400 meters. It broke a school mark of 1974 state Class A champion Pat Sierra.
Conference outdoor on tap
Brown Deer will now take part in its annual trip to the Borg Invite at Delavan-Darien on Friday, May 11, and then will look forward to the Woodland Conference Outdoor meet at Pewaukee on Tuesday, May 15.
"We're looking forward to the challenge," Green said. "The conference is extremely strong in the sprints and middle distances and Tosa West and New Berlin West will make sure we put forth maximum effort. It should be an exciting day."
The Falcons' depth at the relays came through in a pair of turning points. One came fairly early as the Falcons readied themselves for the sprint-medley relay, an event they were hoping to get good points out of. A runner expected to take part who had been recovering from an injury was not ready yet so in stepped Matt Moges.
Brown Deer didn't skip a beat as Austin, Moges, David Kuczynski and Printence McMurtrey claimed second in 1:35.25.
"Coach pulled us all together and told us not to worry, that we'll still do well in it," Austin said. "It really helped."
Depth leads way
Then later in the meet, with just two races to go, the Falcons knew that they would do well in the closing 1,600 race, but were only seeded ninth (and out of the points) in the 3,200 relay that preceded it. Zach Schimenz, who had earlier recorded a strong 800 leg in the fifth place distance medley relay, stepped in and joined Nathan Seefeldt, Dave Schimenz and Alex Earhart as the team rose up to fourth (8:59.52).
Coupled with the runner-up effort of the 1,600 relay team of Gray, McMurtrey, Justin Gordon and Jamal Thomas, Brown Deer had enough to pull off the victory.
"That was such a key race," Green said. "We established a pretty good lead (in the meet) and we knew we had to find events where we could scrape together points, because there were others (like the pole vault) where we knew we weren't going to get any. We got it when we needed it."
Tosa West coach Mike Vann recognized that point too.
"Brown Deer had a heck of a distance relay, better than we thought," he said. "They just competed very well throughout."
Firsts for the Falcons included the high-hurdle shuttle of Gray, Anthony Shurilla and Danny Matz (47.56); the 400 relay team of Moges, Kuczynski, John Schimenz and Austin (season best 43.91); the 800 crew of Kuczynski, McMurtrey, Thomas and Austin (season best 1:30.76); the 900 intermediate- hurdle trio of Gray, Shurilla and Zach Schimenz (2:03.6) and the triple-jump crew of Gray, Thomas and Matz (126-5).
Austin said the Falcons had been "laying low" all season and flying under everyone's radar, but now is the time to shine.
"We're very motivated right now," he said. "It was fun to win this meet, but now we're ready to really step it up."
Other top three finishes for Brown Deer included: long jump- Greg Gilles, Matz and Kuczynski, second (56-2); discus- Nick Becker, Jeron Perkins and Chuck Keomanyvong, third (317-3); high jump- Michael Lee, McMurtrey and Matz (16-6).
Contact reporter Steven L. Tietz at (262) 446-6619 or firstname.lastname@example.org
Team scores: Brown Deer 100, Wauwatosa West 95, New Berlin West 81, Pewaukee 74, Thomas More 70, Greendale 50, Cudahy 36, Whitnall 33, Shorewood 16, Greenfield 15, New Berlin Eisenhower 5, Saint Francis 3.
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