Germantown track coach Greg Siegert has had to a lot of convincing and a lot of morale boosting with his team this year for many different reasons.
For the girls, no one knew how to replace Erika Betthauser on the mighty state place-winning sprint relays of a year ago.
But freshman Kennedy Runde has more than filled that role ably.
Also, could state place-winning 800 runner and key 4x400 relay member Alyssa Goesch get healthy enough to make another run at La Crosse'
That answer was 'Yes.'
And for the boys, was Austin Mozdzen's leg injury going to heal in time for the 4x100 relay team to have a chance at state?
The answer was also an emphatic 'Yes.'
'We had to work hard to keep the morale up,' Siegert said. 'Sometimes the guys got down so bad. They just had to trust the training and keep hoping for the best ... we're just trying to make their dreams come true.'
And a great many of them did in the WIAA sectional at Watertown on May 26, as the Germantown girls advanced all three of its powerhouse sprint relays (4x100-meter, 4x200 and 4x400), as well as Erin Willard in the long jump, Goesch in the 800 and Marissa Nieman in the high jump.
Meanwhile, Mozdzen did anchor the 4x100 relay to a runner-up finish and state meet berth. Relay lead-off runner, and returning state place winner Shon Pratcher will also be a major medal threat in the long and triple jumps.
'This is such a great feeling to get the relay home,' Pratcher said. 'We knew we were just one runner away. We were just hoping that he (Mozdzen) could get here, and he did.'
The Warhawk entries will take part in the state meet starting at 9:30 a.m. Friday, June 3, at UW-La Crosse's Memorial Stadium. Finals will be held at 10:30 a.m. Saturday, June 4.
For the girls, the 4x100 and 4x200 relay teams will include Rosalie Campbell, Tatum Gallenberger, Runde and Kenzie Schmitz, while in the 4x400, Goesch replaces Runde.
'It helps that we've done this before, that we did this same thing last year,' said Schmitz, who anchored all three relays. 'We got ourselves in a good mindset, and it feels good to be back here again. It's also great to have such runners like Tatum, Rosalie and Kennedy in front of me, putting me in a position to succeed.'
'The goal was to get as many people to state as possible,' she added.
The all-junior boys 4x100 relay team will include Pratcher Jr., Mozdzen, Waymon McNeal and Josh Acker.
Pratcher will enter as the third seed in the long jump, while the girls sprint relays all medaled last season but will have to hustle to do it again at this very deep state meet.
The qualifying efforts led the girls to a tie for third in the 13-team sectional field with Hamilton (66 points), while Arrowhead won with 108.
Earning firsts were Willard in the long jump (17-41/2) and Nieman in the high jump (5-0). Siegert said both had to battle health issues so what they achieved was very impressive.
The 4x200 relay was also victorious in a season best of 1:43.75. Schmitz put on a tremendous anchor leg and overhauled a Hamilton runner (1:43.78) just at the line.
'Kenzie just has a desire; she has a will that she will not lose,' Siegert said.
The other two relays were both second in season-best times. The 4x100 came across in 49.72, and the 4x400 lost in a photo finish with Arrowhead as both had identical times of 3:55.95.
Goesch's story is also a good one, as she came back from a season-long hamstring injury that just started feeling better about three weeks ago to run a strong leg on the 4x400 after turning in a third-place effort in the 800 with a season best of 2:17.66.
'I had so many (physical) problems to get through,' she said, 'but I'm finally feeling good ... there's a lot of pressure on us (to succeed), but we like the pressure. It makes us run better.'
The Warhawks had one heartbreaking moment, as the 4x800 relay team of Calli Lemke, Sami Stieve, Jennifer Lindgren and Molly Baus was edged out by Hamilton for the third and final state qualifying spot by just 0.01 of a second despite a 10-second season best of 9:35.89. Lemke led off the relay with an impressive 2:21 800 leg.
The top-eight, state-qualifying time was in the 9:32 range.
'At the beginning of the year, the girls didn't believe that they could run these times, but they did,' Siegert said.
For the boys, Siegert said they brought back Mozdzen slowly, just working minimally on hand-offs so his leg had more time to heal. It was a plan that worked, as he pulled past a Watertown runner for second with a season-best 43.17.
The team jumped up and down on top of Mozdzen in joy.
'His coming back really made us legitimate,' Siegert said.
Meanwhile, Pratcher Jr. did what he does best, winning the long (22-21/2) and triple jumps (44-10).
Germantown had a couple of other strong efforts as Craig Reese was fifth in the 800 (2:00.05); the 4x800 relay team of Reese, Jake DuFrane, Dylan Ayer and Nick Schnoor turned in a season-best time of 8:07.44, good for fourth; and the 4x400 relay team of Pratcher Jr., Ayer, Anthony Brooks and Robert Witzlib turned in a competitive time of 3:25.8, good for seventh.
The boys were sixth in the 16-team field with 65 points.