Falls will host first major track invite in a decade on Tuesday

May 10, 2009

It will likely be a low-key tune-up for most of the teams involved before the conference tests coming up the following week.

But for the Menomonee Falls track program, the first annual 10-team Indian Co-ed Invitational at 4 p.m. Tuesday will be the first high-level test of its still shiny and new year-old facility.

"It's really nice that this has formally come together," said veteran girls coach Andy Eisenbach. "We've run some lower level meets on it, but the more people come to see it, the more they like it. They like the fact that the field events are largely set up in one corner. They like the track itself."

The facility, formally christened last spring, was a joint effort between the Capital Improvement Committee (CIC) and the school district. More work will be done on the Schumann Stadium site, including a new, more formal gate, as soon as funds can be raised.

The meet will be the first major invitational in Falls in about about a decade. Both Indian boys and girls teams held small invitationals through the late 1990s, until the old, pitted track surface just became too hard and dangerous. Even practices became difficult to hold, said coaches. The last time Falls hosted a WIAA sectional meet was in the late 1980s.

But Athletic Director Dave Petroff, who was one of the spearheads of the rebuilding project, hopes the new facility can become a regular WIAA stop in the future.

"This has been a goal of ours for some time," he said. "People go to invites year after year if they have a comfortable experience. That's what we're hoping to create here. Give them a good experience and then hopefully, they'll make it a regular stop. That's how you build a reputation and that's how you eventually get the WIAA's attention."

No WIAA contests are scheduled for Falls in the next couple of years, but the facility will host a junior varsity conference event this year and is scheduled to entertain a varsity Greater Metro Conference meet in 2010.

"The WIAA likes the schools that have done it (hosted meets) in the past and done it well," Petroff said. "They get comfortable with those places because they know people will do a good job (Germantown and Arrowhead are on that short-list in the area). They (the WIAA) are reluctant to shy away from those places, but eventually we'd like to be put into the loop."

Falls gets that first opportunity to make an impression Tuesday. It'll do it with a mix of schools that includes some area favorites and some shout-outs to old friends and alumni.

The field includes Sussex Hamilton, Port Washington, Grafton (Falls alum Kevin Kriegel is a coach there), South Milwaukee (Falls Hall of Fame inductee Stan Druckrey has been a long-time cross country and track guru there), Cudahy, Burlington (Eric Burling, the brother of Falls boys coach Mike Burling, is the Athletic Director); Germantown, Brookfield East (boys), and Mukwonago.

"We were hoping to get just six teams," said Mike Burling, who ran at a sectional meet hosted by Falls in the late 1980s, "but now here we have a legitimate invite just about a year-and-a-half after it (the track) was done. Usually, you have to wait three, four, five years to do that."

So that's why Falls officials are eager to put on a good show.

"Afterward, we'd like to be able to say we put on an organized meet," Eisenbach said. "Run things quickly, but run them well."











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