A SECOND-PLACE SECTIONAL finish in the high jump qualified Grafton’s Cathy Brunette for this week’s WIAA Division 1 state meet. The sophomore also advanced to state in the 100-meter hurdles and as a member of a 400 relay team. Photo by Sam Arendt
Grafton, Port athletes equal to challenge as they soar into Div. 1 finals
After spending much of the season chasing opponents in the team standings, the Grafton Black Hawks stood tall last week in the pursuit of berths to the WIAA Division 1 State Track and Field Meet.
Coach Kevin Kriegel watched his boys’ and girls’ squads each turn in five state-qualifying performances at the Homestead Sectional on May 26, giving Grafton its largest coed contingent at the state finals in recent memory.
Junior Jason Zahn led the Grafton boys by advancing in the discus (with a first-place throw of 170 feet, 10 inches) and the shot put (second, 51-3-3/4). Also qualifying were sprinters Marcus Hill and Justin Tomashek, both in the 400 dash and as members of the 1,600 relay team.
Hill, a sophomore, won the dash (49.92), and Tomashek, a senior, was second (50.65). They were joined on a third-place 1,600 relay (3:24.85) by freshman Erick Huertas and senior Stefan Lundgren.
Setting the pace for the state-bound Grafton girls are sophomores Cathy Brunette and Sara Grange.
Brunette placed second in the high jump (5-3) and 100 hurdles (15.46), and Grange was second in the 200 dash (25.66) and third in the 100 dash (12.48).
Both of Grange’s times set team records.
The duo also joined juniors Emily Schreiner and Carrie Herian on a qualifying 400 relay team that took second (49.99).
The top three finishers in each sectional event qualified for the state meet along with the additional finishes that rank among the eight best in all sectionals.
“It was a great meet for us, very exciting to see,” Kriegel said. “All of them stepped up and did what they needed to get through to state.”
Port Washington will also be well-represented in the Division 1 state meet, which will be held Friday and Saturday, June 3 and 4, at the University of Wisconsin-La Crosse.
Qualifying for the Port boys at the Oshkosh West Sectional were senior Joe McIlree in the 400 dash (first, 51.34) and the 3,200 relay team of McIlree, Augie Yates, Justin Fote and Jared Sandlin (third, 8:05.53).
The Pirates had three girls advance, all with third-place finishes — senior Payton Greisch in the 400 dash (59.92), senior Marly Trier in the discus (120-6) and sophomore Bianca Benkley in the 1,600 run (5:17.78).
Greisch qualified for state for the third time in her specialty. Trier advanced for the second time in the discus, and Benkley returns to state after qualifying in the 3,200 run last year.
Port girls’ coach Joe Adamak was pleased with his team’s sectional performance, noting that the meet “was arguably one of the toughest in the state.”
“The girls who got through did very well. Their experience at state should help them,” he said.
Among all Port qualifiers, Trier may have the best shot at earning a state medal. She’s seeded fifth in her event, highest among the Pirates. Benkley is seeded 14th, and Greisch 15th.
“It’s tough when you’ve got that many people ahead of you,” Adamak said.
Port boys’ coach Mark Pasten was impressed by his state qualifiers, noting McIlree ran a personal-best time in the 400 dash and the relay team recovered from a slow start “by really picking it up at the end” for a season-best time.
“It was a tough sectional field with a lot of good teams,” Pasten said.
The Pirate boys had strong shots at state berths in three other events but came up short, Pasten noted. He singled out the 1,600 relay of Boomer Scheel, Fote, Sandlin and McIlree (fourth, 3:30.27), Zach Hauser in the discus (sixth, 139-4) and Sandlin
in the 800 run (eighth, 2:45.51).
Sandlin entered the meet as the top seed in the 800 run but was tripped by another runner at the 500-meter mark and fell.
The Port girls scored 35 points, good for ninth place in a 17-team field. Kimberly was first with 127 points, and Neenah was second with 120.
In the boys’ portion of the meet, the Pirates took 12th with 31 points. Kimberly won the title with 117 points, and runner-up West Bend West had 77.
Zahn and Brunette are both making return trips to state, having qualified in the discus and 100 hurdles, respectively, last year.
Zahn will be among the favorites in the discus, coming in as the No. 4 seed. He is ranked 20th in the shot put.
In the 400 dash, Hill is seeded sixth, and Tomashek is 15th.
The Grafton boys’ 1,600 relay is ranked ninth.
For the Grafton girls, the 400 relay is seeded fifth. Brunette is ranked eighth in the 100 hurdles and 11th in the high jump, but she has cleared 5-6 this season in the latter event — a height that would put her in strong medal contention.
Grange is seeded ninth in both dashes.
“We’re going up there to do something, not just to get there,” Kriegel said. “We have some good chances to get medals.”
The Grafton boys placed sixth in the sectional meet with 46 points. Arrowhead won the team title with 149 points, and Homestead was second with 129.
Among the girls, Grafton was seventh with 51 points. Arrowhead took first with 158 points, and Whitefish Bay was a distant second with 73.
Division 1 competition in the state meet at Memorial Stadium will begin at 4:30 p.m. Friday and resume at 9:30 a.m. Saturday.