SPASH boys track wins eighth straight WVC Title
Portage County Gazette
By John Kemmeter
The Stevens Point Area Senior High School (SPASH) boys track team extended its Wisconsin Valley Conference (WVC) record, as it won the Conference Title for the eighth year in a row Tuesday, May 14.
Senior Gage Haack won the discus and shot put, junior Jake Lepak won the 1,600 run, and sophomore Jake Bourget won the 3,200 run, as the Panthers totaled 189 points to win the WVC Outdoor Conference Meet over D.C. Everest (139.33) and Marshfield (107.33) at Stiehm Stadium in Schofield.
“It’s awesome to be a part of a team that is consistent in winning,” said Lepak. “We have a lot of fun doing it, and we have good team chemistry, so everyone wants to work hard at practice and be the best.”
“Winning conference is very exciting,” said SPASH boys track head coach Kevin Streveler. “The kids were fired up for this meet and we knew we had some good competition against Everest, Wausau West and Marshfield, they have very good, solid squads.
“But the kids really rose to the occasion,” he said. “And to win eight in a row is special.”
SPASH lost individual State Qualifiers from a year ago in 800 run State Champion Liam Belson, long jump State Runner-up Trent Hamerski, Johnny Hyland (3,200 run) and Connor Pliska (high jump), as well as State Qualifiers in relay events in Colton Kizewski, Alex Karpinski, Nolan Metz, Evan Brocken and Monty Flatoff.
The Panthers brought back a pair of State Qualifiers from last year in seniors Chad Franz (800 run and 4×800 relay) and Blake Milkowski (1,600 run and 4×800 relay), and opened the conference season by scoring 168.5 points to win the WVC Indoor Title over D.C. Everest (136) April 9.
“We weren’t sure what we were going to have when we came into the season,” said Streveler. “We got a couple of new kids this year, the younger kids are really solid and the seniors have been phenomenal leaders. We have 21 seniors that have really done a great job.
“Conference Indoor, we won that meet, and then we’ve gone to a couple of bigger meets, and sometimes we take our lumps there,” he said. “And that’s OK, because we get better because of it, and that showed today.”
SPASH looked to extend its WVC Outdoor Title streak at D.C. Everest Tuesday, as Haack won the discus and shot put to lead the field events.
Lepak (4:31.59) edged Franz (4:32.00) at the finish line to win the 1,600 run, while Bourget came from behind in the final lap to win the 3,200 run (9:51.34) over SPASH senior Alex Strojny (9:52.26).
“It was awesome, crossing the finish line first,” said Lepak. “I really had a good time, the race was fun, and everything went as planned.
“We were one-two-three, and that just makes the race that much better,” he said.
“Alex Strojny set out the pace, I stayed with him the whole race, and then the last 400, I decided to kick it in,” said Bourget. “I looked at him, and I just wanted to close the gap, and at the 200, I just let loose.
“And (it was) just the greatest feeling, crossing the finish line and knowing I got first,” he said.
The Panthers also won a pair of relay events, as Max Sobczak, James Jacobs, Ethan Pelot and Christian Manthey combined to win the 4×800 relay; and Samuel Ollech, Luke Bembenek, Antonio Cisewski and Nathan Mittelstaedt teamed up to win the 4×100 relay.
Franz (800 run), Nathan Konkol (long jump) and Kenley Rashke (shot put) also added second-place finishes, while Colton Engle (110 hurdles and 300 hurdles), Wyatt Cornell (high jump), Karter Rashke (shot put), Milkowski (1,600 run) and the 4×400 relay team (Konkol, Noah Streveler, Elliot Sankey and Sobczak) each finished third, as SPASH rolled to its 14th Conference Title in the last 15 years.
“The throwers were real solid, Gage was certainly a great individual performance today,” said coach Streveler. “The distance guys were absolutely phenomenal today, I haven’t taken a final count, but they scored over 70 points. Our three guys that did the mile and 800, Chad Franz, Blake Milkowski and Jake Lepak, that’s a tough double, and then our two-milers coming in just killed it, all three of them placing in the Top 4, so that’s outstanding.
“And then the sprinters really stepped up their game,” he said. “We had some superstar sprinters last year and we weren’t sure where we were going to be this year in the sprints, and those kids really did a nice job too.”
The Panthers will be back in action at the WIAA Division 1 Regional at Wisconsin Rapids Lincoln Monday, May 20, before they return to D.C. Everest for the Sectional Thursday, May 23, where they look to send qualifiers to the WIAA Division 1 State Meet in La Crosse May 31 and June 1.
“Our goal is to get as many kids to the Sectional Meet as possible, then from the Sectional Meet to get as many kids to state, then let the chips fall where they may at the State Meet,” said coach Streveler. “So we’ve got to figure out where kids are going to sit in what events, and kind of go from there.
“But winning conference eight years in a row is unbelievable, and 14 out of 15 is rather unheard of in track and field,” said Streveler. “So that’s a testament to these kids and what they’ve done, and our coaching staff, and I’m proud of all of them.”