The meet was dragging on; the wind was becoming more and more raw and biting; and the temperatures were falling to a range barely acceptable for early March, and still the Germantown track teams did not lose focus at the Washington County Invite in West Bend on April 26.
And so, despite holding some people out and limiting others because there are bigger fish to fry down the line, the Warhawks' boys squad won the eight-team event, and the girls finished a strong second.
As a father of four, whose own family was battling all sorts of cold weather-related illness, Germantown coach Greg Siegert was impressed with the team's mental toughness, especially of farm-strong sprinter Austin Mozdzen (won two events) and elite jumper and sprinter Shon Pratcher (won four events using a minimum of effort under tough conditions).
'It has been ugly (the weather), and a lot of the team has been battling illness,' Siegert said. 'This is a lull point in the season (about eight weeks in), and it's hard to get excited about meets in 39-degree weather, but we have high-caliber kids.'
That the Warhawks do.
The effort was a perfect segue into the North Shore Conference Relays that were held Wednesday, May 4, at Homestead. The girls are the defending champions in the event.
'This is a big two-week stretch for us,' Siegert said, 'because it starts to become all about team. The conference relays and the True Team Invite (at Cedarburg on May 13). We're going to get a good feel for both teams in the next couple of weeks as we prepare for conference (May 17).'
They started doing that at the county meet, as the Germantown boys won their first major meet title of the season with 117 points. Slinger was second with 104 and West Bend East third with 96.
As noted, Mozdzen and Pratcher led the way. Mozdzen, who Siegert said is a 'quiet athlete with great intangible qualities,' won the 100-meter dash in a fine time of 11.25 seconds and then came back to anchor the victorious 4x100 relay team of Pratcher, Waymon McNeal and Dan Lakich (45.01).
'He works on a beef cattle farm — just a farm-strong kind of kid,' Siegert said.
Pratcher, meanwhile, had an efficient and strong day. He popped off an effort of 22 feet-41/2 inches on his first effort in the long jump and didn't need to take a second attempt to win it. He also took the triple jump comfortably with a 42-9 showing and took the 200 dash by a wide-margin 22.82.
Siegert said he and the staff are thinking about stretching Pratcher a little bit in the coming weeks — see what he can do in the 400 and maybe the 300 intermediate hurdles.
'His mom was a successful hurdler,' Siegert said. 'We want to see if we can get him out of his comfort zone a little, maybe see if he can surprise himself.'
Also contributing to the title was Craig Reese, who was second in the 800 (2:04.49), while thirds went to the 4x400 relay team of Dayne Arens, Anthony Brooks, Robert Witzlib and Reese (3:41.92) and Dante Beal in the pole vault (12-6).
Earning fourths were Arens in the 400 (55.81); Jake Dufrane in the 3,200 (10:42.94); the 4x800 relay team of Jake Garvey, Ben Cincotta, Wes Feltz and Joe Biesel (9:03.78); and Turner Valle in the pole vault (11-6).
The Germantown girls were second in the meet with 1171/2, as Hartford won with 1281/2 and West Bend West was a competitive third with 1121/2.
Kenzie Schmitz led the way, winning the 200 dash in 25.93 and helping the 4x200 relay team that included Rosalie Campbell, Tatum Gallenberger and Kennedy Runde turn in a season-best victorious time of 1:49.68.
She was also on the 4x100 relay team that took second in a good time of 51.82 while also displaying some versatility. Runde had to leave early, so with some quick rudimentary lessons on take-offs and hand-offs, the Warhawks inserted top jumper Erin Willard into the race. Gallenberger and Campbell were also part of the team.
That effort is another reason why Siegert really likes this team.
'Erin (Willard) is just mentally ready all the time,' he said, 'and kids like Rosie (Campbell), Kenzie (Schimitz) and Erin (Willard) are just great to have on any team. They don't make excuses. They're the kind of kids that make you enjoy coaching.'
Willard turned around and won the long jump with an effort of 17-2 and was second in the triple jump at 34-1/2.
Another second went to Calli Lemke in the 800 (2:30.82), while thirds were claimed by Gallenberger in the 100 dash (13.4), Sami Stieve in the 1,600 (5:32.54), Emily Viduski in the pole vault (8-0) and the 4x400 relay of McKenna Klopfer, Molly Baus, Halee Behrens and Calli Lemke (4:29.86).
Fourths were taken by Baus in the 800 (2:33.33), Gallenberger in the 100 (13.57) and Viduski in the high jump (4-8).
State place-winning 800 runner Alyssa Goesch was held out of the meet as a precaution because of a nagging leg issue.
'We have to be smart at this time of year because our margin of error is so small,' Siegert said.