SPASH boys track cruises to WVC Indoor Title
By John Kemmeter
The Stevens Point Area Senior High School (SPASH) boys track team continued its run of Indoor Conference Titles with a dominating performance at the Wisconsin Valley Conference (WVC) Indoor Meet at the University of Wisconsin-Stevens Point (UWSP) Multi-Activity Center Tuesday, April 10.
The Panthers had winners in 11 of 16 events at the seven-team meet and finished with 213.33 points to beat D.C. Everest (122) and Marshfield (89) for their seventh WVC Indoor Title in a row and 14th in the last 15 years.
“This is our last meet of the indoor season, and kids were real excited to compete,” said SPASH boys track head coach Kevin Streveler. “We were going for seven in a row, and also a whole bunch of other numbers.
“Winning this one is 18 out the last 20 years, which is impressive for a track and field team, so we’re real happy with that,” he said. “It’s at 13 since I’ve started coaching, and it’s pretty awesome.”
After winning the WVC Indoor, WVC Relays and WVC Outdoors Titles to complete the conference sweep for the fifth year in a row last season, SPASH returned three individual state qualifiers from a year ago in senior Nolan Metz (200 dash, 4×200 and 4×400 relays), senior Connor Pliska (pole vault) and senior Johnny Hyland (3,200 run).
The Panthers also brought back five other state qualifiers in relay events from last season in seniors Colton Kizewski (4×200, 4×100 and 4×400), Trent Hamerski (4×100) Evan Brocken (4×400), and Monty Flatoff (4×800) and junior Max Sobczak (4×800).
“We’re really experienced,” said Streveler. “We’ve had so many guys that have run varsity meets for four years now, and they’ve been great.
“Most of the seniors are three-year letterwinners at least, and that’s why their expectations are pretty high,” he said.
SPASH looked to extend its dominance in the WVC Tuesday, where D.C. Everest won the first race of the day in the 4×800 relay, and the Panthers followed by winning nine of the next 10 races to close out the meet.
Among that stretch was several tight finishes that had SPASH runners battling each other for first and second, as Hamerski (6.8 seconds) beat out Kizewski (7.07) to win the 60 dash, Hyland (4:38.31) edged senior and NCAA Division 1 University of Wisconsin recruit Liam Belson (4:38.85) to win the 1,600 run, and Kizewski pulled out the win in the 200 with a time of 23.21 seconds to beat Hamerski (23.39) and Metz (23.5) at the finish line.
Hyland also won the 3,200 run (10:12.92) and Hamerski won the long jump (22-07.75) to each claim a pair of Individual Titles, while senior Tom Hatton won 60 hurdles (8.73 seconds), Metz won the 400 dash (52.08 seconds), Belson won the 800 run (2:04.49) and Pliska won the high jump (6-0).
The Panthers also won a pair of relays, as senior Alex Karpinski, Brocken, sophomore Elliot Sankey and senior Gabe Rodriguez teamed up to win the 4×200 relay; and Sankey, Brocken, Metz and Belson won the 4×400 relay in the final race of the night.
“There were so many guys that won events, and so many guys we put in situations where we asked them to double and triple up,” said Streveler. “It’s about scoring points and not necessarily personal glory, and I’m just real happy with all of the guys today.
“Trent Hamerski broke his own school record in the long jump, and had probably the fastest time I’ve ever seen in the 60,” said Streveler. “We asked Colton to change up his events and do three individual events, Nolan had to go two individual events, so did Liam, and so did John, and I can go on and on and on.”
SPASH received second-place finishes from Kizewski (60 dash), Belson (1,600 run), Hamerski (200 dash), freshman Colton Engle (200 hurdles) and the 4×800 relay team (junior Brendan Leahy, junior Chad Franz, junior Alex Strojny and Sobczak); while Kizewski (400 dash), junior Blake Milkowski (800 run), Metz (200 dash) Strojny (3,200 run) and Pliska (pole vault) finished third; and Sobczak (800 run), senior Aaron Rose (triple jump) and junior Kenley Rashke (shot put) came in fourth.
In the end, the Panthers had 213.33 points to win the WVC Indoor Title over Everest (122), Marshfield (89), Wisconsin Rapids Lincoln (77), Wausau West (70.33), Merrill (32.33) and Wausau East (15).
“We wanted to win this one, we won this thing by 90-some points, and that’s a lot,” said Streveler. “Putting up 213 points is a ton.”
Depending on the weather, SPASH is scheduled to open the outdoor season with a triangular at Goerke Field against Everest and Rapids Thursday, April 19, while the WVC Relays Meet will be held at Goerke Field May 1, with the WVC Outdoor Meet at Wausau East May 15.
“Going outdoors, we’re trying to win every meet,” said Streveler. “Obviously we want Outdoor Conference, Regionals, Sectionals and see how many guys we can get to state.
“And hopefully get a lot of guys on top of the stand,” he said.