LA CROSSE (WLUK) -- Entering the Division 1 boys state track and field meet the question wasn't, "Would Kimberly repeat as state champs?" but "How much would the Papermakers win the state title by?"
The answer -- 29 points.
Kimberly easily defeated second-place Oak Creek, 74-45, cruising to the expected championship at the state track and field meet at UW-La Crosse on Saturday.
Last year, Kimberly surprised itself when it won the state title by one point. This year, it knew hours ahead of the end of the meet the state title was decided.
"I feel like a few hours ago we were fired up; we knew we had it in the bag," senior D.J. Stewart said. "We feel good. Obviously happy we did it."
"It is a little different," senior Boyd Dietzen said. "Last year was kind of a surprise. This year, we knew we won it."
"It is a little bit different, knowing we were that far ahead," Kimberly coach Brad Hoerth said. "It's awesome, nonetheless. It doesn't feel different once you're on the stand holding the trophy."
Kimberly won the state title with its depth. D.J. Stewart was the only individual state champ, winning the 300-meter hurdles (38.43 seconds), while the team of Will Demerath, Rowen Ellenberg, Alex Jansen and Jack Fitzgerald won the 3,200 relay in a time of 7:54.72.
Stewart also placed third in the 110 hurdles (14.76), while Austin Wallace placed second in the 110 hurdles (14.74) and third in the 300 hurdles (39.1). Furthermore, Boyd Dietzen placed third in the shot put (59 feet, 1/4 inch) and fourth in the discus (175-1).
"We talk all the time about nickel-and-diming people to death," Hoerth said. "Those fourth- and fifth-place finishes are really important. They add to your point total. At the Wisconsin state track and field meet you're not going to win a ton of events. You have to score those lower points, you need depth."
Saturday's title finished a season in which the Papermakers were the obviously the best in the state. However, Kimberly didn't enter the state meet thinking it had already won the title.
"We had high expectations," Dietzen said. "We knew if we could perform how we were seeded we would have a pretty good meet. I'm just happy with the outcome."
"We came in very confident, but not an arrogant mindset," Hoerth said. "We talked about everybody focusing on their event."
The 74 points scored were the fifth-most by any title team and the most since Brookfield Academy scored 80 points in 2010. Hoerth said it was a well-deserved championship.
"They did a great job," Hoerth said. "It's just a real good group of kids. It's nice to see them succeed."
Follow Doug Ritchay on Twitter @dougritchay