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A giant leap for Kaukauna history: Sportsmanship creating bonds between K-Town rivals

Posted at 3:06 PM, May 17, 2024

KAUKAUNA (NBC26) — A historical season for Kaukauna track & field is highlighted by a one-of-a-kind moment with the school's biggest rival, Kimberly High School.

  • Video shows intense competition at Monday's conference championship meet.
  • Players and coaches from both sides recall the memorable night and how sportsmanship brought both communities together.
  • Kaukauna boys track & field clinched the conference title for the first time in school history. The girls team earned its first titles since 1987.

(The following is a transcription of the full broadcast story)

There's no doubt the rivalry between Kaukauna High School and Kimberly High School is alive and well, but in one-of-a-kind fashion, sportsmanship brought both sides together.

"Track and field is not a sport where everyone's like ooh I'm going to go to the track meet," Kaukauna High School senior, Danny Poor II, said.

Track has been with him since the 6th grade.

"Track's taught me a lot of toughness and heart," Poor said. "You gotta give it your all."

Now in his last season on varsity, his team is on a historic finish.

One that featured an unthinkable circumstance competing for the conference title on May 13.

Kaukauna was neck and neck all the way through against bitter-rival Kimberly High School.

"We had a lot of doubters say that we'd never beat them and that it would never be a rivalry if we never won," Parker Shuh, a Kaukauna junior, said.

Both Shuh and Poor described what happened next.

"They said all the teams prior to us and they said us and Kimberly tied for the first place trophy," Poor said.

Of course, only one team could bring home the trophy that night. The other had wait for another one to be shipped.

A coin flip for the trophy was conducted.

"We won the coin flip, they gave us the trophy, and right when we got the trophy someone alerted the person handing us the trophy that we actually the scores weren't right," Poor said.

Then came disappointment for Kaukauna.

"So we were actually down half a point to Kimberly, so they took the trophy out of one of our runners hands and gave it to Kimberly," Poor said.

"Doing all that hard work, a whole season, working hard every practice doing all of our workouts and then coming to the meet and figuring out we lost by half a point — that's just heartbreaking," Shuh said.

"It was, it was one of the ickiest feeling wins, I think I've ever experienced," Kimberly track & field head coach, Steve Paske, said.

Paske said winning the trophy made him question if the scoring was correct.

"When I got home, I did some internet research and sure enough, it looked like every other WIAA meet they broke the tiebreaker differently," Paske said.

The following morning coach Paske sent Kaukauna boys and girls track & field head coach, Gatlin Bibow, an email.

"I'm not sure but I think you guys might have won the meet so you probably should appeal," Paske said .

"How track & field works is there are no ties unless the following or preceding jumps are exactly the same and so instead of that shared points, that actually bumped one of their guys and another school's athlete down, bumping us up two points," Bibow said.

The tiebreaker was found in the long jump competition.

Coach Bibow and his staff then called the team in for a meeting.

"Tensions were building a little bit, we were definitely look ooh what's in that backpack that he has there," Shuh said.

That backpack contained the championship plaque.

The moment marking the first time the Kaukauna boys team won conference in school history.

"That's a lot of heart that that Kimberly coach had to do that because he didn't have to be honest," Poor said.

Paske used to be serve as assistant principal at River View middle school in Kaukauna and says he knows a lot of the athletes competing against his team.

People need to remember all these situations because whether they live four miles down the road or in your district boundaries, they're kids and we want what's best for them, whatever uniform they're wearing or whatever school they go to," Paske said.

The message of sportsmanship brought together a historic rivalry and created an unforgettable story for both communities.

"It's not always a 'They're the enemy' type sport," Bibow said. We're in this together to see special stuff happen in the sport of track & field."

"This rivalry has made us into some of the best competitors in the state," Poor said. "We're going to be the team that future teams look back to and the team they want to be."

I also spoke with Kaukauna stand out basketball player, Jordan
McCabe, who is now part of the UWGB mens basketball staff, about the rivalry and it's impact on the community.

"It runs pretty deep, but it's always a lot of fun," McCabe said. "When you drum up that much support from a community and they lean into it like they do, it's awesome."

The Kaukauna girls varsity track & field team also made history by winning the conference championship for the first time since 1987.

Kaukauna looks to extend it's historic season for both boys and girls as regional play begins Monday.