The defending Southeast Conference champion Oak Creek boys and girls track teams are off at a full sprint so far this season.
The Knight boys have won both the Sheboygan North and Racine Invitationals, while the girls, under new coach Dean Tutas, have posted several fast times and, like the boys, are preparing themselves for another serious run at a conference title.
The Oak Creek boys are trying to fill in the gaps left by a great senior class led by school-record-setting 400-meter runner Caleb Ogden. He helped the Knights obliterate a whole host of records, including an amazing state runner-up run in the 4x400 relay last season.
He has gotten his collegiate career off to a good start at Iowa Central Community College.
Still, Stack is feeling good about the prospects for this 90-strong group of Knights as there still looks to be strength in the sprint group while the distance group looks to be a very competitive and productive segment of the team.
"We've had a couple of pleasant surprises so far," Stack said. "With the indoor season almost complete, there should be high hopes and expectations for the outdoor season. The team is slowly rounding out to be a very energizing, competitive group that I envision having a strong season."
Leaders include state place-winning 800-meter runner Michael Sippy; veteran sprinters Cornelius Bright, Ryan Potter and Roy Harden; shot putter Nick Dulaney; and distance runners Steve Potter, Simeon Menako and Seth Rocha.
Junior James Carter has been a huge surprise, leaping 6-3 in the high jump at North and turning in a state honor roll effort in the triple jump at the Racine Invite. Sophomore Tyler Kisting will add depth to the distance unit as he has turned in a strong 3,200 time already.
Stack also has high hopes for new track athletes who have distinguished themselves in other sports. These include Shamari Easley from the basketball team and Ryan Harvey-Turner from the football squad.
Oak Creek scored 103 points for its title at Racine, well ahead of Racine Case (73½).
Sippy and (4:36.07) and Steven Potter (4:43.3) went one-two in the 1,600 meters to lead the way while Blair Goedel also won the pole vault at 12-6. Carter engaged in a spirited competition with returning state triple jump champion Armani Carmickle of Kenosha Indian Trail, coming up short as both turned in honor roll efforts of 46-6 and 46- ½, respectively. Bright was third in the triple jump at 42-10½.
Other seconds included Bright in the 55 dash (6.67); Kisting in the 3,200 (10:01.05); the 4x800 relay team of Menako, Justin Wrecke, Ryan Potter and Kisting (8:41.36); and Dulaney in the shot put (49-8 ¾).
For the girls, first-year coach Tutas has an impressive 96 athletes out this spring.
"There are many returning student/athletes from the 2016 team that won the SEC Relays, SEC Conference, WIAA regional, WIAA sectional and participated in the state championships," he said. "The goal of the program is to have a positive attitude, give great effort and focus on repeating many of the successes that were earned last year.
"We have talented veteran performers and the incoming freshman and sophomores that have committed to the program are talented as well. We look forward to having a successful season."
Key returnees include state finalist hurdler Jazsmin Washington; sprinters Alaina Holt, Lea Finn and Katie and Maddie Gard; returning state qualifying throwers Jenna Dankert and Amber Lane; and vaulters Brooke Lobins and Brooke Goedel. The distance crew is also an experienced bunch led by Olivia Schommer, Lauren Sims, Danielle Moczynski, McKenna Wardius, Katarina Pawlak and Megan Drzdinski.
The Knights were third of 16 in the Racine Invite with 65 points as DSHA won with 71 and Franklin was second with 69.
Washington won the 55 high hurdles in 8.78, and the 4x200 relay team of Holt, Finn and the Gard twins turned in a very fast early-season time of 1:49.53 for another victory. Dankert was also a winner in the shot put at 35-11½. Lobins was second in the pole vault (8-6) and Goedel third (8-0).