North Shore girls track meet one for the record books

Homestead, Whitefish Bay and Germantown girls track

The same thing that was in the water at the girls North Shore Conference Outdoor track meet in 1988 must have been there on May 19 in Cedarburg, as a total of seven league marks, some of them as old as 21-years, were taken down at the eventful meet.

It was the same number of records that were set back in that pivotal year of 1988.

The names that were abruptly replaced on the books on that windy and warm day read like a who's who of Milwaukee area track legends

There was Joanna Cox of Homestead, whose 1988 marks in the 100 and 200 meters, previously so rock-solid and sacrosanct, were obliterated in a space of a couple of hours by Whitefish Bay senior Becca Schmidt, who soared up the state honor roll with times of 12.01 and 24.93, respectively. Carol Obi of Shorewood, who shared the old 200 mark with Cox at 25.6 (her version was set in 1990), must be shaking her head somewhere as Schmidt just sent the old standards scattering to the blustery breeze.

Schmidt, who is a humble, well-spoken but confident young woman, is pleased to be thought of as the best sprinter in North Shore history.

"I just felt strong," she said. "My form has been coming along and the coaches have been working very hard with me. This is just great (the records). It had been my plan since the start of the season but I didn't know if I would get them." Just for grins, she also won the long jump.

Then there was Grafton hurdle ace Julie Wojcik, whose clocking of 15.0 in the 100 high hurdles had also stood since 1988. Homestead sophomore Marissa Savitch, who attacks hurdles with a fury and strength more suited to a lioness chasing down a gazelle, not only crushed that mark with her 14.55 clocking, but also roared by the state record set by Jenni Evans of Waukesha South in that same fabled year of 1988 (14.60).

"For me, it's a mental thing every race," Savitch said. "I tend to take things very seriously every time out. I just focus on attacking and getting to the finish line as fast as I can." It was the second time this season that Savitch has gone under 15 seconds in the highs. Her 14.55 is a ridiculous .89 of a second ahead of the second-best performer on the state honor roll. That, in a race, where very tiny increments of time often decide the well-remembered state champions from the forgotten runners-up.

Savitch will have to wait for the actual state meet, June 5 and 6 in La Crosse, to see if she can better Evans in the ultimate arena (the only place official records can be set) and find a space alongside 1980s Highlander superstar and state hurdles champ Lynn Hidde in the hearts of area track fans.

"It's an honor to be thought of that way," she said.

Savitch also won the 300 low hurdles in a personal best of 46.34 seconds, which is third-best in state at the moment. Wojcik can take a deep breath for now, as her mark of 45.8 is still safe.

Liz Wendt of Germantown used teamwork in knocking down two record walls. She and fellow Warhawk Andrea Sielicki went back and forth in the 800, with the shorter Sielicki taking the lead in the beginning and the taller, longer-striding Wendt controlling the final 200 to bust the year-old mark of Whitefish Bay state champion Megan Palmer with a 2:17.83 clocking.

The two were a curious sight along the north fence at Cedarburg High School afterwards, as they discussed in a very animated fashion the tactics of the race and good-naturedly carped about whether one cut off the other (there were a lot of laughs involved in that conversation).

"Hey, whatever works," chuckled Wendt.

"I really wanted to stay with you, but I just couldn't," Sielicki said. "...I'm just so happy."

The only sad thing about that record erasure was that Palmer was not there to defend her title, as she has battled a variety of illnesses this spring and has only now just begun light running.

Other records included 2008 state runner-up Hannah Wallace of Whitefish Bay breaking teammate Camille Schwartz's year-old barrier in the pole vault by more than a foot (11-0) and the Milwaukee Lutheran 400 relay team (49.98).

It was then up to Wendt and Sielicki, along with teammates Caitlin Dillon and Meredith Humiston, to take down the final record of the evening and this one was the most important. The quartet not only cast aside Port Washington's year-old standard in the 1,600 relay by more than a second with a 4:03.93 effort as Wendt rallied on the anchor leg for the win, but it also partially ensured that the Warhawks would earn a share of their first conference title since 1990 with three-time league triple crown champ Homestead.

Germantown Coach Greg Siegert said the girls have placed a remarkable amount of trust in him and his assistant coach (and wife) Marin Siegert, and that, he said, led to both the new league marks and the title.

"They're comfortable enough to answer honestly to us when we ask 'Do you feel comfortable? Are you tired?'" he said. "That allows us to adjust the training and that's why we're here at the end of the year.'

Breaking a whole lot of records.

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