Huertas’ sprint victories, 1,600 relay title help Grafton boys leave their marks in state track and field record book
With three first-place state medals in his possession, Erick Huertas became a master of understatement.
“I had a pretty good meet,” the Grafton High School senior said following his eye-opening work at the rain-delayed WIAA Division 2 track and field finals in La Crosse last weekend.
“I felt pretty confident going into the competition, and things worked out very well.”
Living up to expectations, Huertas raced to championships in the 200 and 400-meter dashes and anchored the Black Hawks’ first-place 1,600 relay.
Huertas breezed to his second straight state title in the 400, breaking the tape in 48.43 seconds after setting a Division 2 record of 47.86 in the preliminaries. Last year, he won the Division 1 crown in the same event.
Things didn’t come as easily in the 200, though.
Huertas was pressed by Cedar Grove-Belgium’s Aaron Chier in a photo finish that judges had to review for several minutes before determining the winner.
The title went to Huertas in 22.085 seconds, just .002 ahead of Chier.
“I was very surprised,” Huertas said of the eye-lash victory. “It was a very stressful couple of minutes, but I was happy to get the win.”
Chier, a junior, had an outstanding sprinting season but wasn’t expected to press Huertas, who came into the meet as the top seed in both the 200 and 400.
“We really didn’t know who won,” Grafton coach Kevin Kriegel said of the duel.
“They both ran great races. We were just happy that Erick got first.”
Cedar Grove-Belgium coach Les Paul was impressed with both runners.
“Aaron did his part and appeared to win. It was a really fun race to watch, with some strong efforts by all the competitors,” Paul said.
Kriegel and Huertas were equally pleased with Grafton’s other state championship performance. The 4-by-400 relay of junior Sam Miller, seniors Patrick Tobianski and Matt Salm and Huertas topped the field in 3:21.74, upholding their season-long standing as the state’s best 1,600 team.
In the preliminaries, the Hawks set a Division 2 state mark with a 3:19.62 clocking that also set a team record.
“They’ve been No. 1 all season, so there was a lot of pressure on them going into the meet,” Kriegel said.
“It was great to see them come through and finish No. 1 again.”
Huertas, who will take his talents to Central Michigan University on a track scholarship this fall, said he took as much pride in the relay’s success as his individual achievements.
“It was awesome to see what we were able to do,” he said.
“I felt that we were building confidence in the last few weeks, so we went into the meet really focused.”
With four state titles in his careers, Huertas joins an elite group, especially among local athletes.
“That’s the most anyone has had in the years I’ve coached at Grafton,” Kriegel said.
“It says a lot about Erick, about his talent and his dedication. He’s had a great career.”
Fueled by their three victories, the Hawks used their depth to score 35 points, good for a share of third place with Milwaukee Lutheran.
Monroe won the Division 2 team title with 63 points, and Seymour was second with 37.
Cedar Grove-Belgium tied for 21st with 11 points.
Grafton’s other scoring finishes were a fifth by the 800 relay of Alex Gall, Miller, Salm and Nic Fullington (1:30.53) and an eighth by the 3,200 relay of Tobianski, Alec Weinhold, Parker White and Salm (8:06.93).
The Hawks also got a 10th from the 400 relay of Will Favret, Miller, Gall and Fullington (44.36) and a 16th from Weinhold in the 1,600 run (4:31.89).
Besides his second in the 200 dash, Chier gave Cedar Grove-Belgium a scoring finish by placing sixth in the 100 dash (11.25).
“Aaron got out strong, with seven guys running neck and neck at 50 meters,” Paul said.
“It comes down to dealing with the crowd and staying focused. Aaron did well and made a podium spot.”
The Rockets’ other state qualifier was senior Logan Peterson, who placed 13th in the triple jump (41 feet, 1-3/4 inches).
“Logan had a great season,” Paul said.
“The state meet was a great accomplishment. He has a chance to continue on at the college level.”
Relays, hurdler set pace for Grafton girls
Strong efforts in relays and hurdles gave the Grafton girls 11 points in their portion of the Division 2 state meet.
The 1,600 team of Alina Dillahunt, Nikki Kreutzer, Adele Danner and Katie Boehm led the way with a fourth-place finish (4:04.13).
Taking sixth were Danner in the 300 hurdles (47.24) and the 800 relay of Anya Dillahunt, Danner, Kreutzer and Alina Dillahunt (1:46.62).
Alina Dillahunt was 12th in the preliminaries of the 100 dash (13.05).
“The girls had an awesome weekend,“ Kriegel said.
“They went into the meet on a roll and kept going. To get points in three of four events was great.”
The Dillahunt sisters are seniors, Boehm is a junior, and Danner and Kreutzer are sophomores.
Image information: THERE WERE PLENTY of gold-medal performances for the Grafton boys’ track and field team in the WIAA Division 2 state meet last weekend. Erick Huertas (center) won the 200 and 400-meter dashes and anchored a first-place 1,600 relay that also included Matt Salm (left) and Sam Miller. Missing from the photo is relay member Patrick Tobianski. Photo by Sam Arendt