With four state titles over the past six seasons, Brookfield East's boys track and field has become a state power with a target on its back.
The Spartans will feature new faces in prominent places this season, but coach Mike Steiner expects his team to be similarly constructed to those of years past. Despite losing eight state qualifiers and five that contributed points at the state meet, Brookfield East is confident it has what it takes to be in the mix if not at the top when it is is all said and done.
"We feel pretty confident that this group will respond to the challenges in front of them and work hard to develop and grow as track and field athletes," Steiner said. "We have a ways to go in developing depth, but in the early going, it looks like we have some kids that will step up and fill some roles for us”
"The kids are motivated, and they respond well to the expectations within the program. We have excellent senior leadership, and our numbers are strong. We are anticipating another strong season."
Among the seniors lost from last season include state qualifiers Mario Carr, Matt Szews, Drew Bullen, Mike Caliendo, Cameron Allen-Aylsworth, Will Schmidt, Nick Krueger and Mark Stack.
Carr took third in the 300-meter hurdles and also qualified in the triple jump, Szews made state in the high jump, Bullen placed second in the long jump and along with Schmidt were on the state-champion 4x200 and 4x400 relays and on the runner-up 4x100 relay. Claiendo took sixth in the shot put, and Allen Aylsworth was fifth in discus.
Steiner expects the Spartans to again have a strong throwing group to be led by senior Sam Santiago-Lloyd and junior Matthew Johnston. Other returning throwers include junior Everett Cartier and junior Caleb Wright.
Brookfield East will also have a formidable distance crew led by returning state qualifiers junior Jas Wodnicki and senior Sam McTaggart. Also back as distance runners are senior Stuart Gildea, senior Brandon Hillary, senior Greg Schuh and senior Joe Timm with newcomers senior Sam Meysembourg, freshman Mark Browne, freshman Jack Pitzen and sophomore Bennett Hanson.
Steiner sees the Spartans as strong at the top in sprints and hurdles but in need of depth development, while Brookfield East is solid on jumps and on pole vault.
Seniors Avery Barnes and Saxton Williams and junior Morris Seaton are back after all running on state-championship relays last season.
Other sprinters, hurdlers, jumpers or pole vaulters returning are senior Alek Tyler, senior Isiah Windom, junior Cam Bauer, junior Tristan Butkiewicz and junior Justin Parbs with sophomore Cam McDonald, sophomore Abel Christiansen, sophomore Justin Christiansen, senior Sean McClain and junior Patrick Cartier as newcomers with potential to contribute.
Brookfield East opened the indoor portion of its schedule by winning the 20-team Nelson-Daniel Classic at UW-Whitewater on March 18. The Spartans scored 55.5 team points to edge Oconomowoc at 54 points and Mukwonago at 51.5 points. Defending state runner-up Kettle Moraine was fourth with 37 points.
"We had a very nice start to our season down at Whitewater," Steiner said. 'The kids responded to the challenge, and we had some nice performances for so early in the year."
Wright won the 55-meter hurdles in 8.12 seconds. Williams took third in the 55-meter dash in 6.73 seconds and third in the long jump at 21 feet, 3.5 inches.
Bauer took fourth in the triple jump with a distance of 42 feet and in the pole vault clearing 13 feet. Santiago-Lloyd came in fourth in the shot put with a top throw of 49 feet, 7.5 inches, Abel Christiansen was sixth in the 400-meter dash in 54.41 seconds, Johnston took eighth in the shot put at 47-03 and Barnes was ninth in the long jump at 20-01¼.
"Cam (Bauer) had a pretty good day," Steiner said. "His potential is certainly something that catches your attention. Sam (Santiago-Lloyd) has such a presence for us. He has unlimited potential in the shot, and I anticipate him continuing to improve as the season progresses."
The Spartans came in second in the 4x800 relay with McTaggart, Hillary, Wodnicki and Gildea finishing in 8 minutes, 29.27 seconds. Barnes, Williams, Justin Christiansen and McDonald took third in the 4x200 in 1:35.15, and McDonald, Justin Christiansen, McTaggart and Wodnicki were eighth in the 4x400.