Everyone involved in the long and successful history of the Franklin track program deserved what happened on Saturday, April 23.
And it wasn't just the fact that the Sabers won both the boys and girls competitions of their own first-in-a-long time Franklin Invitational on a cool but sunny day and got the meet done in a sprightly three-plus hours.
No, it was the fact that the Sabers and everyone else involved got to run on a spectacularly nice and new championship-level eight-lane track that was recently completed as part of Franklin's two-year, $3 million-plus public/private facilities upgrade project.
It passed all the tests and earned a lot of smiles and compliments, according to boys coach John Troy and girls coach Jack Hervert, including one all-important one from former girls coach and Franklin AD Don Kurth, who when texted a picture of the track before the meet, was in awe of what he saw:
'That looks amazing,' he said, before laughingly noting, 'You know how much time I spent on that old six-lane hunk of junk?'
But the 'old hunk of junk' is long gone.
What happened April 23 was a similar moment to when the new field turf field at the football stadium was dedicated in fall of 2014. That was the first major step of this project, and at the dedication, there was a sign nearby that said 'Farewell to the swamp.'
It's all part of a strenuous commitment to the future by the district.
It included the first games at the shiny new girls softball diamond that sits at the northwest corner of the football stadium, which also had its first games this spring. More than $3.4 million went into this overall project, including about $1 million raised by the Saber Stadium Committee led by Dave Bartels and the school district kicking in $2.4 million.
Hervert, who has been around Franklin for around 20 years in many capacities, couldn't be more pleased.
'This is very, very exciting,' he said. 'To be able to host something like this and to get a ton of compliments is amazing. This is a place where we can put in our hard work; then we can host something like this, and we can all be really proud.
'I've been at Franklin a long time, and there have been a handful of renovations, but this is now a utopia. This is what we want to hang our hats on.'
Current Franklin AD Sara Unertl agreed.
'It was a long process, but now we'll be able to enjoy the results, and the kids will now benefit from all the upgrades,' she said.
And they will continue to. Franklin hosted a large junior varsity invite on April 27 and will host the Southeast Conference JV Relays on May 5, as well as the SEC JV outdoor meet on May 19. Higher level meets can be expected in coming years, everyone noted, including varsity conference tests and WIAA championship tests.
A fact not lost on Troy.
'The kids were excited to have a home-track advantage instead of having to go everywhere else,' he said. 'We'd like to have that more often.'
It paid off on April 23 as the Franklin girls dominated their five-team meet with 259 points as Waterford was a distant second with 1271/2. The boys claimed the title in the seven-team event with 196 as Waterford was second with 93.
The girls won 12 events en route to their title.
Individual titlists included Haley Pyan in the 100-meter high hurdles (17.2 seconds), Miki Kobayashi in the 300 low hurdles (49.97), Morgan Trinko in the 800 (2:28.64), Kathryn Pecha in the 200 dash (26.15), Hailey Miglinao in the 3,200 (11:42.63), Breanna Judkins in the high jump (4-8), Brianna Oelke in the pole vault (10-6) and Brittney Lincoln in both the discus (96-5) and shot put (38-101/2).
In addition, the Sabers also won the 4x400 relay with Judkins, Pecha, Kobayashi, and Morgan Edwards (4:11.46); the 4x100 relay with Judkins, Alyssa Colla, Pecha and Brianna Oelke (51.37); and the 4x200 relay with Pyan, Demi Yoder, Jensen Ritzow and Trinko (1:56.15).
Hervert highlighted a number of performers, including Lincoln, Pecha and Kobayashi.
'Miki (Kobayashi) is a perfect example of a senior who works diligently for four years, really stays with it and and finally finds herself with some real success,' Hervert said.
He said it was a great all-around team effort.
'Right now, we're working on finding out how much depth we can develop between now and the really big meets coming up,' he said. 'We know we'll be going up against teams with more depth (like powerful Oak Creek in the upcoming SEC relays and outdoor meets). We're hoping to turn in some good meets in mid-May.'
And he loves being around this team.
'It's a continuation of the same kind of quality kids that have made it so enjoyable for the last 20 years,' he said. 'High-level kids who are fun to be around and who have high goals.'
Troy could say the same things. His team won nine events en route to the title.
Sprinter Josh Iraci continued his amazing spring, taking both the 100 dash (11.25) and the 200 dash (22.7), while hurdler Mike Hennig was also a double winner, taking the 110 highs in 16.03 and the 300 intermediates in a time of 41.64.
Jumper Tri Pham was also a double winner with a personal best of 21-101/2 in the long jump and an impressive 44-51/2 in the triple jump, while Max Fassbender took the 800 run (2:00.4).
The 4x100 relay team of Iraci, AJ Catarozoli, Charlie Rydeski and Jack Wadzinski won in a fine time of 43.9, as did the 4x400 crew of Chris Rafalski, Rydeski, Carter Snelson and Joe Hasenstein (3:29.17).
'We had a lot of good, quiet performances,' said Troy. 'We had a little bit of a headwind that slowed things down a little in the sprints, but it was a good meet for us.'
He especially praised the efforts of Hennig and Pham.
The only real downside to this first amazing event was that there were only medals and no trophies given out to the winners.
'Maybe next year,' Troy chuckled.