|6/6/2017 7:26:00 AM
Lakeland relay takes state title
Four other events podium
Taking 16 competitors to the state track meet, the Lakeland track team came away a winner in one event: the boys' 4x800 relay.
The team - consisting of Darius Diver, Jack Garcia, Kieran Mullen and Kav FitzPatrick - came in as the event's ninth seed, but took the title with a run of 7:55.16.
But it wasn't without dramatics, as FitzPatrick - the team's anchor runner - got tripped up heading into the home 100 meters, which caused even his teammates to doubt they were still in the race.
"At first it was a little scary because Kav got a little tripped up in the last 100 and I thought, 'there goes second,'" Diver said.
"That was really the only place where I was kind of scared we wouldn't win,"?FitzPatrick said. "There was a guy who came up on my shoulder and then with about 150 to go, I got tripped up and the Omro guy got ahead of me. I was honestly worried, I was like 'Man, I don't know if we'll be able to win it. I think we might just have to settle for second.'"
But FitzPatrick defied his teammates fears and in the final 80 meter stretch, pushed ahead of Omro to take the title by 0.71 seconds.
"With about 80 meters to go, I was thinking about my whole team and I was the anchor leg and turned it on and went for it and was able to get the guy," FitzPatrick said. "But it's always exciting to win a state championship."
"My first thought when we won, it didn't quite sink in," Diver said. "It was like 'oh, cool. We won.' But then after a while it was like 'oh, wow. We actually won.'"
As for smashing their seed time by nearly 20 seconds, Garcia said the team was expecting to do so.
"I think we expecting to go faster from out seed time, just because we were going from a sectional and we've been dominating in the 4x800 throughout the year," Garcia said. " And we just wanted to get a fast enough time to get in the fast heat. And then with that we just went from there."
"To me, really in distance races, seeds don't matter," FitzPatrick said. "If you're in the fast heat, anybody there has a shot to win it. And fortunately for us, this was our day and really that speaks to the coaching that coach Goff does with our distance guys."
"We've got a streak now where we've averaged one state championship per year," head coach Kevin FitzPatrick said. "We had one year with no state champions and one with two. But that's pretty cool."
The Thunderbirds nearly had another champion - Aubrey Anderson in the 800 meter run - but the freshman was beaten out by Aneesa Tucker of Ashland by 0.68 seconds. Tucker ran 2:16.04 while Anderson finished in 2:16.72.
"Aubrey Anderson, obviously ran a fantastic race in the 800, finishing second," coach FitzPatrick said. "I've gotta think that's the highest finish by a freshman as an individual in Lakeland history. Really proud of how she competed. She's just a tough competitor."
Two other events reached the podium for the Thunderbirds - the girls' 4x800 relay and Brandt Beukema in the 300 meter hurdles, both taking fifth.
The relay - consisting of Stephanie Balas, Maddie Nelson, Lauren Schilling and Anderson - came in seeded fourth, running 9:40.10 to take fifth. The team from East Troy topped the event with 9:29.62.
Beukema - who also competed in the 100 hurdles, taking 10th - ran 40.04 seconds to take fifth in the 300 meter hurdles. Jackson Enz of Big Foot/Williams Bay took first in both events.
Jake Rexroade, as the team's only field athlete, took ninth in the high jump with a height of six feet even. Brekan Day of Broadhead/Juda took first with 6 feet, 6 inches.
Ashley Peterson ran the 1600 and finished just outside the top 10 at 11th, running the event in 5:25.06.
The Thunderbirds had two competitors in the boys' 3200. Diver finished in 12th with a time of 10:14.21, while Noah Bodewes took 14th with 10:20.94.
Kav FitzPatrick ran both the 800 and 1600 runs, finishing in 14th (2:11.70) and 15th (4:38.71), respectively.
The girls' 4x400 relay team of Carley Hintz, Riley Mauzer, Balas and Schilling fell short of the final, finishing their heat in eighth with 4:09.89.
"At the end there, the girls 4x400 we thought had a shot to get out," coach FitzPatrick said. "We knew that would be tough, probably the toughest one to get out on, with Aubrey not being able to come back. Hurt a little bit, but I will say those four girls stepped up and really ran very nice legs."
Lakeland as a team ended the year in a tie for 16th for the boys with 14 points, while the girls earned 12 points to finish in a tie for 21.
Ben Gauger may be reached via email at .