The first time the Shorewood boys 4x400-meter relay had an idea that it could be anything good was on a dank, soggy and cold day at the Marquette Invitational in late April.
It was still a bit soggy but not quite as cold when the Greyhound team of seniors Ari Schermer, De'Anthony Manns and Jake Woyak and junior Josh Melton realized they were something special as they roared to a WIAA D2 state runner-up finish in La Crosse on June 4.
'That (Marquette) was the first time we ran under 3:30,' Melton said, 'and we were just under 3:30, but we kept dropping time.'
'In prelims, we were only seeded seventh, but then we dropped another 21/2 seconds from our sectional time,' said Schermer, a former pole vaulter.
Woyak added, 'We just needed to stay in a positive mind-set.'
And that the Greyhounds did. They turned in that 3:23.69 prelims time on June 3 to earn themselves the third seed in the finals, and then late in the day on June 4, they had, like everyone else at UW-La Crosse's Memorial Stadium, to sit through a two-hour rain delay.
But they reacted well to it and came home in 3:23.91 in the finals as the anchor, Woyak, pulled past a couple of runners near the finish line to get the runner-up medal. Kiel wound up winning the state title in 3:20.46.
'The boys exemplified what it means to be a team and work together,' said coach Dominic Newman. 'Coach Eric Mathews had the boys poised and ready to go in order to reach their goals.'
The relay was happy to keep up the recent tradition of strong Shorewood 4x400 relays, including Justin Rabon anchoring a state-record effort in 2013 (that mark has since been broken).
'We feel we're the next generation (of 400 runners),' said Schermer as he and his teammates just could not stop smiling.
Other Shorewood efforts at state included state newcomer distance runner Cole Baumann, who turned in a 12th-place finish in the 1,600 meters in a time of 4:32.31; Woyak taking 14th in the 400 dash (51.01); and the 4x800 relay team of Woyak, Gus Wettstein, Henry Fowler and Baumann turning in a full second season PR with an 11th-place effort of 8:09.98.
The state efforts ended a sound reloading season for the Greyhounds.
'Each athlete acted like they have been to the state meet before,' Newman said. 'I truly believe this is because of coaching and the strong alumni support that we have. Every year we have alumni that come and support our athletes throughout the season. Keeping alumni connected to their school shows ongoing support and commitment, which is important.'