In a wide-open race to kickoff the second day of the WIAA state track and field meet, the Wauwatosa East boys 4x800-meter relay squad landed in sixth place, running 7 minutes, 56.49 seconds.
Marquez Green, Nathan Green, Sam Stelloh and Sam Potter were on board, and this was a personal record for this group as they now hold the second and third fastest 4x800 on the Tosa East all-time list.
'We found out pretty early that we could be pretty good at this,' Potter said of the unit that came into the meet as the No. 3 seed. 'We're all seniors, and we've been running together for three years, so we knew this was our big chance. It feels amazing.'
'It was a very physical race from the gun,' coach Mackenzie Laska said. 'Marquez got trapped on the inside lane and was shuffled to the back end of the field before he was able to move to the outside and go around a few teams.
'Nathan got the baton and moved up gradually over his two laps while running a PR split. Sam Stelloh closed a huge gap and moved the team into seventh place and within striking distance with a PR split so that Sam Potter could be in position to catch and outkick Middleton (and beat the winning time from the first section by 31 seconds) to claim sixth place and a trip to the podium.
'I am very proud of how the team responded to the pressure at state and the unfavorable track position after the first lap. All four of these seniors responded and gave everything they had to get that baton to a podium position. It was a great way to finish their final high school race and speaks to the determination and strength of this group.
'It was their goal all season to put together a 4x8 that could get to state and get onto the podium. I think it first became real when they turned in an 8:05.51 at the Tosa West Dan Benson Invite back in April that put them in the top three in the state honor roll. That performance gave them the confidence, and they continued to improve all the way to the state meet.'
They were the lone points scored by the Tosa East boys at the year-end showcase in La Crosse.
Ryan Kelnofer, Lewis Huenink, Dan Scallon and Jeremiah King ran 11th in the 4x100-meter relay (43.07), missing the finals by one one-hundredth of a second.
'After smashing the school record at the sectional meet (43.06), the team was very excited about the improvement and opportunity to compete at state after missing the meet by 0.01 seconds in 2015,' Laska said. 'They nearly matched their school-record time and fell one position (0.01 seconds) shy of making the final at state.
Potter took 12th in the 800 (1:57.27), and Scallon took 14th in the 200 (22.93).
'Sam ran his second-fastest time ever in the open 800 run with a well-executed race strategy that fell less than a second from scoring and about 1.5 seconds from the podium,' Laska said. 'Sam was proud of his effort and bounced back well to anchor the 4x8 on Saturday morning.
'Dan ran a solid race with a fifth-place finish in the final heat in prelims after already competing in the 4x1 relay earlier that day. He ran very well for his first individual event at state and turned in another sub-23 second 200.'
On the girls side, Toni Bonds finished 21st in the open 400 (1:00.65), and the 4x200 team of Katie Gastrau, Olivia Metz, Melina Paul and Kirsten Maxwell took 24th (1:52.42).
'Great end to the season and good experience for next year for the ladies that qualified for the WIAA state meet,' coach Glen Gardiner said. 'Very happy with the effort.'