When you finish the season in your sport with a state championship next to your name, it doesn't get better than that.
Brookfield East boys track and field coach Mike Steiner and his staff won their fourth state title in the last six years, and they won their fourth straight WIAA sectional championship.
The Spartans won three meet titles: their own Spartan Invitational, the Sun Prairie Invitational and the Northstar Invitational.
In the Greater Metro Conference, they were the Triple Crown Champions (the fifth time they accomplished that feat), and they won the GMC Outdoor for the seventh straight year.
'To sum it all up, we had a special year with some really special kids,' Steiner said. 'It takes an awful lot to achieve at the level we aspire to. The winning is nice, but to see the kids put forth the kind of effort and determination to succeed is what makes it worthwhile.
'The support we receive from our parents, community and administration have been nothing short of exceptional. Our administration supports all of our school programs and when you combine that with motivated and talented kids, you have a pretty good chance to be successful.'
The following Spartans earned Team awards for their efforts.
The MVP award was shared by Drew Bullen and Mario Carr. The two of them were also captains along with Jack Leonovicz.
The Unsung Hero Award went to throwers Leonovicz, Mike Caliendo, Cameron Allen-Aylsworth and Dominic Cartier, while the Rising Star Award was shared by freshmen Ryan Mazza and Cameron McDonald.
'We ended the season with 110 kids in the program,' Steiner said. 'The program was successful at all levels, and the train should stay on the tracks next season and for years to come.'
Steiner had praise for several players, of course, led by Bullen and Carr, two-time MVPs who he called 'our workhorses.'
But one of the big keys to this season's success went to the throwers.
'Can't say enough about our big guys,' Steiner said. 'They were vital to our team's success the entire year.'
Caliendo was the first East shot-putter to score points at state since the mid-1980s. Allen-Aylsworth was a two-time state qualifier and another multisport athlete.
'He was as clutch as anybody who contributed to the championship,' Steiner said.
Leonovicz, who is going to Dartmouth, finished second all-time in the shot and missed breaking the school record by an inch. Cartier played three sports for four years and was a big part of the throwers' success.
Will Schmidt, a relay runner who chipped in at a high level, and Matt Szews, who will take his volleyball talents to Ball State, contributed in the high jump. Nick Krueger and Mark Stack were the go-to guys in the middle distance events, with both having exceptional careers.
Mitch Mikulsky was a four-year athlete and an alternate on two state relays but struggled with injuries the past two years. Andy Swietlik and Donovan Lutz down the longer distance races, and both contributed in different ways.
Six records fell
The Spartans broke six school records this year.
Bullen, who will be attending West Point, long jumped 23 feet, 71/2 inches, That held as the No. 1 jump in the state this year.
Bullen also broke the 100-meter dash mark, running in 10.85 seconds, and Allen-Aylsworth set a record in the discus throw, flipping it 164-8.
Three relay records also fell.
The 4x200 relay behind Bullen, Will Schmidt, Saxton Williams and Morris Seaton was state champion with a record-breaking time of 1 minute, 26.95 minutes.
The 4x100-meter relay ran a 41.02 behind Bullen, Schmidt, Williams and Seaton and finished second at state.
The 4x400 relay with Bullen, Carr, Avery Barnes and Williams ran a record-breaking 3:15.87.
'The 4x400 at state was one for the ages,' Steiner said. 'That record had stood since 1990. It is a very hallowed record. To end the state meet with that record was incredible. Those kids ran the race of their lives. They put a number out there that will take a pretty special effort to surpass. We are so proud of that performance.'
Steiner then praised Bullen, one of the best athletes East has ever produced in track and field.
'Drew is now a part of five school records,' Steiner said. 'Our record board was a pretty tough one to crack. To break six records this year was extraordinary. We've had some unbelievable kids over the years who've done some amazing things. Drew might be the best of them all.'
Always one to pass on credit, Steiner praised his coaching staff of Jeff Boeder, Randy Bucheger, Jeff Ferguson, Brendan Gonring, Matt Ische, Jim Jacobsen, Jason Kasmarick and Brad Mohns.
'Our staff is so good,' he said. 'I truly appreciate their contributions, and without them, this program would not be where it is. I respect every one of them for their passion of track and field and how they work with kids. Our kids were excellent all year, and when you combine it with the guidance and support the coaches provide, it makes for a pretty good experience.'
Kasmarick will be moving on to take the athletic director position at Whitefish Bay.
Steiner will lose 21 seniors: Allen-Aylsworth, Bullen, Caliendo, Carr, Cartier, Krueger, Leonovicz, Lutz, Mikulsky, Schmidt, Stack, Swietlik, Szews, Zach Kieler, Ian Lynch, Michael Mandella, Jesse Norman, Andrew Olsen, Thad Sapa-Kotlarek, TC Swittel and Alex Werchowski.
'We are obviously extremely proud of how the year played out for our program,' Steiner said. 'We had an incredible year, and we had tremendous senior buy-in. The seniors have done everything we've asked of them. They bought into what we were selling, and that makes all the difference in the world.
'We are certainly going to miss this group. They did everything we asked and provided leadership to our younger kids, which is invaluable. We're just thankful to have had the opportunity to work with them, as they left a legacy on our program that will last forever.'