It was right around the end of the 1,600-meter relay at the May 14 North Shore Conference Outdoor track meet in Germantown, and Homestead boys track coach Dan Benson was in the usual spot, on the far side of the track, waiting for things to happen.
After the relay, the traditional end to the meet, the four-time North Shore triple crown champion Highlanders found themselves a half-point behind host and archrival Germantown.
But Benson, the former state champion long jumper at Tosa West, still had an ace in the hole: his coaching specialty and love, and two die-hard seniors who would not let him down.
The long jump was still not done, and he had two young men who had played key roles on the state championship football team last fall and who were bound and determined to go out winners again in the spring.
So of course, long jumpers Jay Schneider and Riley Pelisek did not let him down as they improved their efforts again and again, eventually going one-two, respectively, in the event and allowing Homestead to pull away and earn their fifth straight NSC triple crown.
'They just kept going up-and-up,' Benson said before the final results were officially called out. 'It was just great to watch.'
Not so for Warhawk coach Jared Foerch, who had been working in a rake in the long jump pit and watched as first Schneider turned in a personal best of 21 feet, 10 inches and then Pelisek turn in another best effort of 21-6.
'After they did that, I just went 'oooh',' Foerch said. 'I knew that was the dagger.'
'They're just two accomplished seniors running in their final conference meets,' Benson said. 'It's not a given (that they'd come through), but it was about as good as you could get in that situation.'
Indeed it was, as the Highlanders scored 145-1/2 points to the Warhawks' 136 to complete Homestead's fifth straight North Shore triple crown (indoor, relays and outdoor meets).
'You know, none of this is a surprise,' said Pelisek, who has been part of the last four triple crowns. 'We always expect a good fight, down to the wire. We never expect to be handed anything.'
A history of success
The culture of winning at Homestead in track is something that is ingrained early, and something the large (22-man) senior class knows much about.
'When we were younger it was hard to get into the team culture (in track),' Pelisek said, 'but as seniors we know the pressure is on, so it was great to see the juniors and even some sophomores step it up.'
Pelisek's pal and teammate Schneider understood that concept in a big way, as Schneider not only won the jump with a personal best, but also claimed the 100-meter dash (11.03 seconds) and the 200 (22.03) and took second in the 400 (49.32) in times that were all personal bests. In the case of the 200 and 400, they were also close to school records.
'That was just so good to see,' Benson said of Schneider. 'He just came onto the track focused and sharp.'
Schneider's effort in the 400 was part of an imposing showing of team depth by the Highlanders as Brett Geschke was third (50.65) and Chris Mueller fourth (51.1).
Pelisek later helped himself to a first-place finish in his specialty, the triple jump (43-8 1/2), and got help from Blake Leeson, who was second with a 42-11 effort. He is highly motivated, as the state meet is fast approaching.
'I've placed twice (in the state triple jump) but right now I think I'm of the mentality that nothing less than a state championship will do,' Pelisek said.
Other finishes of note for the Highlanders included the following: 100 — Geschke, fifth (11.58); 200 — Geschke, fourth (22.71); 1,600 — Evan Routhier, fourth (4:33.56); 3,200 — Ben Jurenec, fifth (10:15.58); 1,600 relay — Nick Allen, Dan Held, Patrick Curran and Chris Mueller, third (3:31.61); 300 intermediate hurdles — Vincent Wilkerson, fifth (42.18); 400 relay — Pelisek, Curran, Held and Zach Zimmermann, fifth (45.14); 800 relay — Allen, Curran, Patrick Minkin and Held, fifth (1:34.47); High jump — Leeson, third (6-1); Discus — John Marita, fourth (136-4) and Patrick Rosenberg, fifth (135-5).
Benson was very happy with his depth people, the ones who he felt really made the title possible.
'You try to tell the guys that this (their event) might be a meet-changing effort,' he said, 'and if the kid thinks that the meet might hang on what they do, it's just great to see them come through.
'This was just a really great, really tight track meet.'
Homestead repeats as NSC champs
Also win WIAA regional
UP NEXT: The Highlanders won Monday's regional meet at Cedarburg on Monday and sent qualifiers, including a state best of 3:19.15 by the 1,600 relay team of Mueller, Geschke, Held and Schneider, to the sectional meet at Sussex Hamilton on Thursday at 3:30 p.m. The top three finishers in each event plus all those whose efforts are among the eight best of all sectionals statewide, advance to the WIAA State Meet in La Crosse, May 31 and June 1.