After his triumphant night finally came to an end, Verona’s Max Herkert put on his sweats sitting down on the infield of the track, too fatigued to place his legs into his pants.
“All I want to do is sleep,” the senior said.
He certainly earned his rest on Friday night.
Herkert, ranked in the Division 1 state track and field honor roll in both the pole vault and high jump, showed off his athletic abilities by also participating in the 110 high hurdles and, for the first time in his career, the 300 intermediate hurdles at the Big Eight Conference meet at Madison La Follette’s Lussier Stadium.
Herkert was the meet’s high scorer with 34 points after winning the pole vault (14 feet) and placing second in the high jump (6-2), 110 hurdles (15.79 seconds) and 300 hurdles (:41.49).
“It’ll go down as one of the best individual Wildcat track and field performances of all time,” Verona coach Joff Pedretti said. “It’s insane.”
Pole vault is Herkert’s true passion, and he’s drumming up some high-level collegiate interest. He has a season-best height of 14-9 and has his sights set on a top-three finish at the WIAA Division 1 state meet in three weeks.
Because of the physical nature of that particular event, the transition to high jump and hurdles wasn’t too overwhelming.
In pole vault, everything needs to go right from take off to landing. Speed, power, acceleration and body control all take part in that process.
So on Friday night when he kept changing his shoes to fit his different events, he put those into motion.
“There’s a lot of stuff that carries over into other events,” Herkert said. “Like explosiveness in every event and even endurance to keep going.”
Timing wasn’t necessarily on Herkert’s side. All of his events came right after another with a few overlapping. He had to sprint back from his 110 hurdles prelims to get himself to the pole vault pit in time to get his marks in.
He slowed things down as best he could — off the track, that is — and took his opportunities as they came.
“You just don’t want to get ahead of yourself,” Herket said. “Just doing everything one at a time.”
As the regional meet looms, Herkert will go back to focusing on pole vault and high jump so he has more legs under him to get a higher mark in both of those events.
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He sacrificed those marks Friday to get his team as many points as possible. The Wildcats came in second to Middleton.
Now, after producing what his coach called as one of the greatest performances in school history, Herkert set to turn in some more on the biggest stages.
“What he’s doing is awesome,” Pedretti said. “And now that we’ll focus him down to his two events, hopefully we can get him on to the state podium at least one time and maybe two times.”
But first, a good night’s rest is in store.
The Cardinals edged the Wildcats 152-124 in the boys team scoring, and the distance crew played a big part in that.
Perhaps the moment of the night for Middleton came during the 1,600, when last year’s state runner-up Caleb Easton and two teammates completed a sweep of the top three spots.
Easton, who has gone as low as 4:13 this season, paced teammates Zachary Leffel and Michael Madoch for the first three laps. He even tucked in behind Leffel to make sure his splits were on point.
Easton won in 4:23.27, with Leffel a second behind and Madoch 10 seconds back. That produced 24 points for the Cardinals, who won their seventh Big Eight title in a row.
“The main focus for this meet is really just a lot of points,” Easton said. “It’s a theme the whole year, and the team really comes together for this meet. With knowing we had three guys on the team up front, we wanted to take advantage of that and just run together.”
Easton also won the 3,200 in 9:39.1.
The West boys 400 relay team set a Big Eight meet record in :42.81.
The Sun Prairie girls won their third consecutive crown and ninth in the past 12 seasons, scoring 152 points to top Madison Memorial’s 134.
Sophomore Brooke Crosby led the charge as she swept the hurdles events, winning the 100 in :15.23 before securing the 300 in :47.11. Her teammate, Aubrie Deprey, took second in the 300.
Middleton’s Lauren Pansegrau beat West’s Genevieve Nashold, the Division 1 cross country state champ who has missed a good part of the track season, in a 3,200-meter battle of freshmen. Pansegrau won in 10:56.94 to Nashold’s 11:01.76.