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Hurdling along: Savitch emulates Widule with NSC record

Wind helps rustle up a quick 14.1

May 22, 2011

The howling winds that roared through the area on May 17 weren't the friends of many, except at conference track meets where organizers had the good sense to change the direction of the 100-meter dash and high hurdle races to go with the gale-force blasts.

"Thanks for turning it around," said Mike Savitch with a laugh to officials in the pressbox at Cedarburg where the North Shore Conference outdoor was being held.

Savitch is the father of 100 high hurdle state record-holder Marissa Savitch of Homestead, who just got through taking her perfect form through a blistering 14.1 second time in the trials of her specialty.

The time is the second-fastest in state history and it's no surprise that Savitch also holds the fastest-time ever at 14.04.

Conference meets have been kind to hurdlers in recent years, as evidenced by the 2010 effort of two-time state 110 high hurdle champion Matt Widule of Menomonee Falls, who scorched the tracks with an amazing 13.96 at the Greater Metro Conference meet, the best all-time in Wisconsin prep history.

At the time, Falls assistant coach Jim Geisthardt, a former hurdler himself at Germantown back in the day, would gleefully show anyone who would ask to see a straightaway view of Widule's race on his video camera.

Widule, the owner of three state titles (including the record-holding 800-relay team), just shook his head at the effort and wished he could have bottled it and then repeated it when he won his second state championship in La Crosse a few weeks later in a slightly slower time.

Widule recently completed his freshman year at Wisconsin (on scholarship) and will be joined by Savitch next year on the Madison campus. Savitch, too, has earned a scholarship to run track for the Badgers.

Both are decent, kind and gregarious people. Savitch demonstrated that after the high hurdle finals last week, where her first action was to go console likely state place-winner Cathy Brunette of Grafton, who had fallen in the middle of the race and subsequently finished last.

That action was a strong sign of the character Savitch has worked hard to maintain during what has been a somewhat uneven spring for her.

She turned in that great time in the highs at conference and had a personal best in the 300 lows at the recently held Highlander Invite. Elsewhere, however, she has been slowed by injury, lousy weather and a self-appraisal that has probably been a little more critical than it has needed to be.

"My coaches have really talked to me about being so darn hard on myself," she said. "They really want me to stay positive."

Something like that wind-aided 100 race last week should help in that regard as she starts her run for her third straight WIAA state title with the sectional meet on her home track on Thursday. It'll be her last run on the familiar Homestead facility.

"I'm excited about it," she said.

Other notes from the North Shore meet:

Former Germantown North Shore boys hurdle champ and state place-winner Dexter Schleis was in attendance having recently completed a successful freshman season at UW-Milwaukee, where he placed second in the 400 hurdles in the recently held Horizon League meet. Schleis' brother, Adam, a former state high hurdles champ for Germantown, is an assistant coach for the defending state champion Homestead squad and also competed for UWM.

Cedarburg's Josh Dixon, the 2010 state triple jump champ, not only broke a league record in that event with his excellent effort of 48-11/2, but also made a little history as well in another, as he also took down, by a half-inch, the 20-plus year old record of Nicolet's Keith Lovelace in the long jump (22-111/2). Lovelace was a stalwart on the powerhouse 1990 Knights state championship team, and his name is still on the state books as part of Nicolet's record-holding 1,600-relay crew from that same year (3:16.09).

Current Germantown boys coach Jared Foerch was on the 2006 state championship Warhawks 1,600-relay team that provided the first serious challenge to the Knights' mark in that event in more than 15 years. Germantown fell a little short, but still owns the second-fastest time in state history in the event (3:17.37).

"I know I could have gone a lot faster (on my leg)," chuckled Foerch when reminded of the race.

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