Oak Creek boys track team passes character test when Ogden is hurt
Knights still advance three to state
Character is built on days like the one Oak Creek boys track coach Rick Stack and his team endured May 30 in the WIAA sectional meet at Wisconsin Lutheran.
The Southeast Conference champs were already going through a rugged day with lots of fourth places (just one place out of qualifying for state), when in the 200-meter dash, state spring ace Caleb Ogden pulled up 70 meters into a race that he was heavily favored to win limping and favoring the front of one his powerful thighs.
"At least he had the good sense to shut it down quickly and preserve it (his health) as much as possible," Stack said.
Fortunately, later tests with a doctor revealed no lasting tear or similar damage in the muscle.
"They didn't even need to do an MRI, which was also a good sign," Stack said.
But Ogden, who had already turned in a scorching time in winning the 400-meter dash, was not only out of the 200, but his loss put the 4x400 relay team in serious jeopardy, too. The Knights, who had been favored to win that race with Ogden on the anchor, had to do some quick patchwork just to get a competitive squad into the race.
"And they really did a special job," Stack said. "What they did in 30 minutes was amazing. They had to take out a 49 second (400-meter man) and insert a 55-second one, and then they went out there and turned in a time that was two seconds better than our previous season best."
But the group of Charlie Quentin, Brian Weinzirl, Thomas Kroon and Wezley Turner came up a place (fourth) and about two seconds short (3:25.38) of a state meet berth.
In between the injury and the relay, the Knights did get a positive to go there way, as distance runner Austin Zajkowski, just a meet or two removed from returning to competition after sitting out a month with an Achilles problem, won the 3,200 and earned a state berth of his own in 9:40.81.
"It was a real credit to Austin because he had seen what happened to Caleb, and he still came through," said Stack, who was impressed by Zajkowski's strong 2:13 in the last 800 of the race.
Ogden, if he can go this weekend, Zajkowski and shot putter Peter Mitchell are the only three state qualifiers for the Knights, despite a strong fourth-place team showing in the sectional.
Stack said they have Ogden working out in the pool right now, and they will test him a couple of times before the weekend.
"But if we don't feel comfortable about it, we'll just shut him down," he said.
And that would be a shame because the entire state deserves to see the special speed that Ogden has been displaying this spring at the biggest event of the season.
The WIAA state meet will get underway at 9:30 a.m. Friday, June 6, at UW-La Crosse's Memorial Stadium.
It will conclude at 10:30 a.m. Saturday, June 7.
However many of his athletes compete, Stack is already proud of this team.
"This has been one of my favorite teams (to work with)," said the eighth-year coach. "...The way they fought through adversity tells me a lot about their character."
And also about their heart.
The Knights scored 85 points in the sectional that was won by Wisconsin Lutheran with 124.
Before his injury, Ogden had won the 400 in an impressive 48.84 seconds, but in a sign of things to come, Turner just missed out on a state berth of his own when he took fourth in 50.77.
Mitchell earned his own berth in the shot with a toss of 48-7, good for second, but senior weight man Robert Campos, a previous state meet qualifier, lost out on a state slot when he tied for third at 47-31/2 but was relegated to fourth on the basis of his competitor's better second-best throw.
Campos also took another fourth in the discus, missing out on state by just 1 foot 1 inch with a throw of 129-7.
In that same 200 that Ogden was hurt in, Turner missed out on state by a maddening 0.01 of a second when he took fourth in 22.5.
"We just had way too many fourths," Stack said, "but still, when things looked pretty doubtful, we still came together as a team."
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