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Bay girls wait for another North Shore track title is short as Blue Dukes win outdoor

Back-to-back crowns after 25-year drought

May 22, 2012

Whitefish Bay - Senior distance ace Emma-Lisa Murphy knew that the Blue Dukes would need every place and point they could get if they were to repeat as North Shore Conference outdoor track champions.

So, after she won the 3,200 meters late in the May 15 meet at Grafton, completing a 1,600/3,200 sweep in the process, she calmly waited behind the finish line awaiting her teammates who would add valuable points to the Bay total.

She didn't have long to wait, as she slapped five with Alana Blegen in third and Jenna Wirkus in fourth as the Blue Dukes picked up 21 valuable points that all but clinched a repeat championship that Bay would go onto win.

After discussing her individual titles and the valuable points the team picked up, she brightly said: "I hope I'm talking to you again soon (after the team awards were announced)."

And she did.

"This is very exciting," said the all-state cross country runner. "We won last year (the Blue Dukes first ever North Shore girls first outdoor track crown in the 27-year history of the league) and now to do it again, to be two-time champs, is just amazing.

"It was a great day. We just focused on doing as well as we could in every event and earning as many points possible that we could. We needed everyone to do their best."

And they did, as the Blue Dukes scored 118 points to outdistance league relays champion Germantown (100.2).

Making it a tradition

Veteran coach Ben Van Male, knew that the Blue Dukes had a chance to win it. He felt the team let an opportunity slip away at the relay meet a few weeks ago, and he and the team wanted to make sure this one wouldn't fall into that same category.

"We actually thought we'd win both indoor and relays," he said, "but everything just came together today. We just said that it'd been 27 years since we won one (title) so let's take advantage of the situation and make it more of a tradition."

And behind performers like Murphy, Sofie Yang and Hannah Schwartz, Bay did. Murphy turned in a personal best of 5:07.79 to win an intense 1,600 race and then ran a more calculated effort in claiming the 3,200 (11:42.43).

"That was my goal, to take both races," she said. "To go out as a conference champion like this makes me very happy."

Yang, another senior who has been battling a foot condition, ever since she helped the Blue Dukes claim another state gymnastics title in the winter, was another senior who did a little bit of everything for the team.

She won the pole vault (10-0), was third in the triple jump (32-8), and was fourth in the 300 low hurdles (49.0). She also helped the 1,600 relay team of Catie McBride, Yang, Annika Markham and Anna Bednarczyk take a fourth (4:13.32).

Versatile athlete helps cause

"Sofie's just so versatile. I don't know what we'd do without her," Van Male said. "We could put her in every event."

Yang said she never gave a thought to not coming out for track after the long winter season.

"It's actually gotten better (as the spring has progressed)," she said of her injury. "We just didn't know how good we could be, but we brought it all together when we needed to."

Schwartz was also a huge help, earning a surprise win in the high jump (4-10), and also taking fourth in the 100 high hurdles (16.78).

Still, the Blue Dukes needed other help, to pull this title out.

Help came in the form of a number of other places, including Anna Bednarczyk's third in the 400 (1:01.25) and fourth in the 200 (27.24), Reilly Koch's fourth in the 800 (2:24.77) and Sara Coffey was fifth in the same event (2:26.99) and Helen Dziadowicz's third in the discus (99-4). The 3,200 relay team of Alana Blegen, Wirkus, Josie Rolfs and Koch was fourth (10:17.64), while Markham was fifth in the 400 (1:04.36) and Lilly Hayes was sixth in the pole vault (8-0) as was Jayda Watkins in the 300 hurdles (50.44)

"We were just really solid throughout," Van Male said. "We came in with confidence and just never let up."

WIAA sectional coming for Blue Dukes

Qualifiers head to Falls on Thursday

UP NEXT:The WIAA sectional meet at Menomonee Falls is Thursday. The top three in each event plus all those whose efforts are among the top eight of all sectionals statewide advance to the WIAA State Meet in La Crosse, on June 1 and 2. The sectional timeline includes pole vault at 3 p.m., the remainder of field events at 3:45 p.m. and running events at 4:30 p.m. Bay finishes second in the regional meet at Homestead Monday and sent nine individuals and three relays teams to the sectional.

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