James Morgan likes to say he’s the slowest member of the Ashwaubenon boys 1,600-meter relay team.
That relay just happens to be the fastest in the state heading into the WIAA state track and field meet.
The 1,600 relay of the Jaguars is at the top of the state honor roll and earned a top seed in Division 1 for Friday’s preliminaries at the state meet in La Crosse.
Ashwaubenon would like to end its season at the top of the state podium after finishing as runner-up in the event last year.
“We have a lot more confidence this year,” Ashwaubenon junior Nate Holly said.
“I think last year, losing by a couple tenths of a second, we were really upset with ourselves. We knew we had to push it a lot this year and to go for the gold.”
Senior captain Jon Gregory and Holly are the two returning legs on the 1,600 relay, which broke a school record last year at state with a time of 3 minutes, 20.81 seconds.
To replace the graduation losses of Ethan Gniot and Matt Krueger the Jaguars turned to a lengthy freshman, Jose Guzman, and a future college quarterback in Morgan, who came out for track for the first time.
“That’s something you don’t usually walk into much,” Ashwaubenon coach Cal Kromm said.
“Jose had run quick in the 100 as an eighth-grader. But looking at his size, and his stride length, we knew we were going to bump him up to the 400.
“James has actually come and worked out with us since he was a sophomore. I always tell the kids if they want to come out and just work out, and not race, that’s fine. He’s done that, so we always kind of knew there was talent there.”
Kromm credits Ashwaubenon sprints coach Dave Coates for molding the foursome of Morgan, Guzman, Holly and Gregory into such a dominant unit.
The 1,600 relay broke the school record last Friday with a time of 3:19.24 to win a second straight sectional title and earn one of the area’s nine top seeds at state.
But Gregory and Holly know all too well that high seeds don’t guarantee anything.
The two will be appearing in their third state meet as legs on the 1,600 relay, which last year went from being seeded No. 2 for preliminaries to just barely making it into the finals as the No. 10 seed.
“Last year, we didn’t really know what to expect when we got down to state,” said Gregory, who will compete in track and field at St. Norbert College. “We just knew that we were fast because we’ve never been that fast before. This year, we know what we have to do to get it done.”
Morgan, a Bowling Green State University football recruit, serves as the lead leg on the 1,600 relay. But he’s quick to point out Gregory, the anchor leg, is the leader of the team.
Gregory is seeded eighth in the 200 at state in addition to being on the sectional championship 800 relay team with Holly, Guzman and senior Mark Hanson.
“Those guys work so hard at it,” Morgan said. “They’ve put in so much work. I’m probably the slowest one. I just try to get out fast and get it to Jose because Jose can book it. He can fly at that part.”
If each member does his part, the Ashwaubenon 1,600 relay could walk away from La Crosse with some state hardware.
“All four of those boys are awesome,” Kromm said. “They’re just competitors. Our big thing is to just get to Saturday and take it from there.”
There are no area boys competitors that are returning state champions.
Bay Port leads the state for all divisions with 14 qualifiers. The Pirates were projected to win the Division 1 team title in the Wisconsin State Journal’s mock meet, which uses sectional results to project the state meet.
Area boys state qualifiers (sectional results)
100: Ryan Powers, sr., Bay Port, 10.82; Dom Conway, sr., West De Pere, 10.94; Joshua Jennerjohn, jr., Bay Port, 11.05.
200: Powers, Bay Port, 21.81; Jon Gregory, sr., Ashwaubenon, 22.03.
400: Powers, Bay Port, 48.55.
800: Daniel LaLuzerne, sr., G.B. Preble, 1:55.47; Cole Fitzgerald, sr., West De Pere, 1:55.73; Jake Klister, sr., Shawano, 1:57.24.
1,600: Alec Basten, jr., G.B. Southwest, 4:22.38; Tannor Wagner, so., Ashwaubenon, 4:23.20.
3,200: Basten, jr., G.B. Southwest, 9:36.20; LaLuzerne, sr., G.B. Preble, 9:36.74.
110 hurdles: Zach Lorbeck, sr., Bay Port, 14.64; Christian Albers, sr., De Pere, 14.86.
300 hurdles: Noah Verheyden, sr., G.B. Preble, 40.46; Daniel Boivin, sr., Shawano, 40.51.
400 relay: Bay Port (Blair Van Ess, sr.; Austin Sylvester, jr.; Jacob Isaac, jr.; Jennerjohn), 43.24; G.B. Preble (Gavin Buergi, fr.; Tanner Duffney, so.; Logan Gerow, jr.; Randy Bialcik, sr.), 43.67.
800 relay: Ashwaubenon (Mark Hanson, sr.; Jose Guzman, fr.; Nate Holly, jr.; Gregory), 1:29.02; West De Pere (Brandon Destache, so.; Nevan Neerdaels, jr.; Kyle Lichttengegger, sr.; Conway), 1:29.13.
1,600 relay: Ashwaubenon* (James Morgan, sr.; Guzman; Holly; Gregory), 3:19.24; Bay Port (Paxton Pelegrin, jr.; Ethan Farr, jr.; Zachary Smith, so.; Isaac), 3:22.71.
3,200 relay: G.B. Preble (LaLuzerne, Lake LaChappelle, sr.,; DeJuan Plummer, sr.; Sam Wouters, sr.), 7:59.66; G.B. Notre Dame (Brian Hansford, sr.; Nathan Ciriacks, jr.; Cameron Knight, jr.; Nick Robinson, jr.), 8:08.01.
High jump: Lorbeck, Bay Port, 6-5; Cordell Tinch, fr., Bay Port, 6-5; Daniel Warren^, jr., G.B. East, 6-4.
Long jump: Lorbeck*, Bay Port, 23-1; Maxwell Barry^, sr., Bay Port, 22-1/4.
Triple jump: Tinch, Bay Port, 44-113/4.
Pole vault: Bialcik, G.B. Preble, 14-0; Boivin, Shawano, 14-0.
Shot put: Cole Van Lanen*, jr,. Bay Port, 62-10; Ryan Ray^, sr., G.B. Preble, 53-13/4.
Discus: Van Lanen*, Bay Port, 177-0.
200: Kyle Dorosz, sr., Seymour, 22.69.
400: Dylan McGuire, sr., Luxemburg-Casco, 49.44.
110 hurdles: Marcus Cornelius, sr., Seymour, 15.54.
300 hurdles: Noah Kleiman, jr., Kewaunee, 40.62.
400 relay: Luxemburg-Casco (Jake Shefchik, jr.; Brogan Hall, jr.; Malaki Wessel, jr.; Tyler Suess, so.), 43.83.
1,600 relay: Luxemburg-Casco (Sam Larson, so.; Suess; Corey Legois, jr.; McGuire), 3:25.46.
High jump: Mason LeMere*, sr., Southern Door, 6-5.
Triple jump: Sonny Soquet, sr., Southern Door, 44-11/2.
Pole vault: Cornelius, Seymour, 13-6.
Discus: Nathan Beining, jr., Wrightstown, 152-2.
100: Gordon James, sr., Menominee Indian, 11.26.
200: James, Menominee Indian, 23.07.
400: Millar Minahan, jr., Sevastopol, 51.90.
800: Matthew Wahlers, so., Algoma, 1:58.58; Joe Bruno, sr., Sevastopol, 1:59.57.
1,600: Jacob Wahlers, so., Algoma, 4:34.66.
3,200: J. Wahlers, Algoma, 10:03.17.
110 hurdles: Caleb Lohenry, jr., Algoma, 15.43.
400 relay: Crivitz (David Poh, sr.; Ryan Padgett, jr.; Micah Sessler, jr.; Tyler Slaby, jr.), 44.60.
800 relay: Crivitz (Poh; Padgett; Sessler; Slaby), 1:33.38.
3,200 relay: Sevastopol (Bruno; Cory Carlson, jr.; Dominic DiCarlo, jr.; Minahan), 8:23.52.
High jump: John Christensen, so., Suring, 6-0; Josh Pillath, so., Coleman, 6-1.
Long jump: Akeem Bates, sr., Gillett, 20-33/4.
Triple jump: Bates, Gillett, 42-2.
Pole vault: Slaby, Crivitz, 13-0.
Shot put: C.J. Pillath, sr., Coleman, 52-31/4; Chris Anderson, sr., Gibraltar, 51-10; Alphonso Smith, sr., Menominee Indian, 47-11/4; Alex Wiedemeier, sr., Crivitz, 46-91/4.
Discus: Devin Kostichka, sr., Algoma, 144-8; C.J. Pillath, Coleman, 138-5; Collin Kempka, sr., Coleman, 135-6.
* Top seed