Whitefish Bay - Brandon Threats won the WIAA state 200-meter track title at Veteran's Memorial Stadium in La Crosse on Saturday.
He's pleased about it and his coach Ashley Pletzer is happy for him.
But he admits that all in all it is an awkward situation. After anchoring the defending state champion Bay 800 relay team to a runner-up qualifying position in Friday's trials, Threats took part in the open 200 trials. He posted the fastest time with a 21.91 but reported that he felt something in one of his hamstrings that wasn't quite right.
However, he said he would get it treated right away and that he would be ready to go for both his races in Saturday's finals.
But Pletzer said that the staff determined that there was bruising in the hamstring and that probably, Threats had just one good race in him for Saturday's finals.
'And we thought it would be more dangerous to try and run with that coming out of the blocks (in the open 200),' she said. 'It would probably be easier on the leg to go with a running start (as in a relay).'
But that's not quite how it worked out.
What happened Saturday morning in the Bay camp as the finals dawned is subject to some discussion, but at some point, Threats made it clear that he wanted to go for the individual 200 title, which would leave the relay, which based on the seed times would have been in a neck-and-neck dual with Riverside for the title, in a bit of an awkward situation.
New lineup comes in sixth
So that's why, in the end, the Blue Dukes had a reconfigured order of regular relay runners Tommy Friesch, James Stecker and Rashadeem Gray (Gray, Stecker and Threats were all on the state championship 400 and 800 relay teams last season) and alternate Darrein Walker.
The team did the best it could, still earning a medal with a sixth-place time of 1:29.4, which was well off its 1:28.29 seed time. Riverside did win the race in a 2012 state best time of 1:27.8.
Stecker and Gray, looking a bit frustrated after they came off the awards' podium, didn't say much, just noting that Threats 'couldn't go' in the relay.
With not many outside the Bay camp knowing what was going on, everyone in the large crowd was a bit surprised when Threats showed up for the final of the 200, which he led from beginning to end in a time of 22.1.
Afterward, he spoke about the decision process.
'It was a big decision,' he said, 'but talking to the coaches, there was probably only one race in me today. We wanted to do back-to-back (in the relay), but since my freshman year, I have really wanted to win the (open) 200. I went with my gut. I didn't want to let down the team, but ... .'
Threats said there was a big talk with the team Saturday morning, but that is subject to some dispute and Pletzer did not want to go on the record about the specific parts of the situation.
'A dream come true'
'This is a dream come true,' Threats said. 'I felt it (the hamstring) a little bit coming off the blocks (in the finals), but I just kept going. I tried to slingshot my way off the curve and I hit the line first.'
'I know this is hard for my teammates, especially James Stecker, who is a returning state champion. … but as much as I wanted the relay that's how much I wanted that (individual) championship. We did the best we could do and the relay did do an amazing job getting back on the podium.'
Pletzer put the best face on the situation possible.
'The relay got sixth in the state without our fastest person on it, which is a credit to them,' she said. 'We had been looking forward to it (at full strength) knowing the potential of the unit. It just wasn't quite the ideal situation.
'And we don't want to take anything away from Brandon. To win a state title (with a sore hamstring) is a major accomplishment.'
Threats will run at De Paul and says his eventual goal is to become a track coach.
Mixed day for others
Other Bay qualifiers had mixed days. The junior Gray was frustrated in the 110 high hurdles, as a hurdle got tipped over into his lane in the trials and he had to settle for 23rd after he crashed into it, and his sophomore brother Rhashad Gray had a tough day in the high jump, failing to clear a height.
'We tried to protest but we couldn't get a new race for him,' said Pletzer of Rashadeem.
Junior 1,600 runner Nate Gomoll was a huge surprise. In the deepest state 1,600 race in history, he ran a seven-second personal best and narrowly missed the school record with an eighth-place effort of 4:15.71.
'We kept wondering what was wrong with him, why he wasn't closer to the front of the pack,' Pletzer said, 'but then we all looked down at our watches and realized how fast everyone was going. It was a great race on his part.'
Brookfield Central's Carl Hirsch won in the sixth-fastest time in state history (4:08.21).
Stecker and Threats were the only seniors on the state team for Bay.