The goal was a top-five finish.
The St. Francis girls did that, and nearly brought home a Division 4 state track championship in the process Saturday.
Fowler edged the Gladiators 54-50 in a battle that came down to the last event.
St. Francis won the 1,600 relay to close out the day, but Fowler placed second to secure the crown.
"If Fowler runs a little (slower) in the 4x4 we would have won it," St. Francis coach Julie Duffing said. "But it was quite a day. Unbelievable, really. With nine girls I don't know how we did it. It gives me goose bumps."
Lauren Buckel led the Gladiators, winning the 200 (26.49), 400 (59.93) and anchoring the victorious 1,600 relay (4:12.47).
"She flew," Duffing said. "She looked so strong, so confident. I'm just so proud of her. This is a girl who didn't want to run the 400. She's not a 400 fan. That was quite an accomplishment today."
Buckel edged Flint Hamady's Keyocia Murphy (26.55) and Forest Area's Marissa Ingersoll (26.77) in an extremely tight 200 race.
"It was close right to the end," Buckel said. "I really wanted to win. I had a slow start and I was behind (Murphy) up until the last 20 feet when I passed her. It was kind of a sneak attack. I had to bring it at the end."
Buckel won the 400 over Evart's Katelyne VanMourik by about six-tenths of a second.
"I have a love-hate relationship with the 400," Buckel said. "I've been running it since fourth grade. It always gets me because it's very hard and it's a lot of work. But my coaches taught me to burst right out of the blocks, to get out and go and I was able to bring it home."
Teammate Kaitlyn Hegewald finished fourth in the 400 (1:01.51).
Hegewald, Maddy Danz, Erin McDonnell and Buckel then knocked off top-seeded Fowler to win the 1,600 relay. The Gladiators were seeded fifth in that event.
St. Francis placed in two other relays. Hegewald, Liza Erickson, McKaely Ludka and Buckel took third in the 800 (1:49.60). Danz, McDonnell, Krissi Dressler and Erickson finished fourth in the 3,200 (10:06.49).
"That was a huge jump in our 4X8 time," Duffing said. "I think it was 13 seconds faster than our previous best."
Grace Meachum added a sixth in the 100 (13.32) and Danz an eighth in the 800 (2:24.33).
"We came down to be in the top five," Duffing said. "That was our goal. We took second and that's terrific. It's a great feeling."
"(Fowler) deserved it," she said. "They had a great day. So did we. I'm happy with second place."
Ingersoll, meanwhile, capped her medal-winning career by winning the 100 (12.74), taking third in the 200 and seventh in the long jump (16-5). Her long jump set a school record.
Onekama finished fifth overall with 28 points. The Portagers captured two events — Jaylee Brown claimed the pole vault (10-0) while Meredith Hengy, Nisha Collins, Alyson Fink and Breanna Fink took the 400 relay (51.44).
Other top finishers: Pellston's Tayler Friend came in second in the high jump (5-5), McBain Northern Christian's Adri Sigafoose second in the 800 (2:22.5) and Mancelona's Isabella Tremonti fourth in the 3,200 (11:55.78). Northern Michigan Christian was third in the 1,600 relay (4:18.11).
Onekama also won the pole vault in the boys meet as Tyler Fogarty cleared 13-5.
For the fourth consecutive year it came down to a Frankenmuth-Benzie Central shootout for the girls title.
Benzie beat the Eagles by a point to win it last year, and then defeated Frankenmuth in last weekend's MITCA team championships. But the Eagles prevailed Saturday, 63-52.
"It came down to a couple events," Benzie coach Asa Kelly said. "We knew it would. We knew we would have to have a solid, almost perfect day to win it."
Senior Theresa Warsecke closed out a splendid career by winning the 1,600 (4:57.59) and anchoring the victorious 3,200 relay (9:37.97).
Warsecke's 1,600 time tied a school record set last year in the state finals by Michaela Carnegie.
"That's wild," Kelly said.
Warsecke accomplished another interesting feat. She was on the state championship 3,200 relay all four years.
"I happened to mention to the other girls (Alyssa Bennett, Makayla Huddleston and Bryce Cutler) before the race that it would be nice to win it all four years," Warsecke said. "They did a great job. It's really cool to have done that."
Warsecke added a third in the 800 (2:16.75) and teamed with Bennett, Jordan Nye and Miranda Besey to place third in the 1,600 relay (4:08.12).
Benzie finished second in the 400 relay in a school record time (50.54). That team was comprised of Nye, Jenna Smeltzer, Abigail Secor and Alikay Hamilton.
The Huskies were fourth in the 800 relay (1:47.86) as a bad handoff proved costly.
Benzie picked up 16 points in the 1,600. In addition to Warsecke, Cutler came in fifth (5:11.76) and Bennett seventh (5:13.63).
Nye finished seventh in the long jump (16-4).
Manistee's Annie Fuller set a new meet record in winning the 800 (2:13.03). She was second in the 1,600 (5:01.8). The Chippewas were seventh with 21 points.
Boyne City's Kylie Hicks placed second in the 100 high hurdles (14.98)and third in the 300 low hurdles (45.06).
Charlevoix's Amber Way came in second in the 3,200 (11:07.63). Way, Olivia Certa, Kourtney Putman and Molly Jeakle finished fourth in the 3,200 relay (9:47.75).
Benzie tied for 10th in the boys race with 16 points. The Huskies finished second in the 3,200 relay (8:10.62) with William Huddleston, Jared Fekete, Travis Clous and Gerrit Buist.
Logan Gray added a fifth in the shot put (51-3.25). Huddleston took eighth in the 1,600 (4:24.66) and 3,200 (9:45.16) with personal best times.
"That 1,600 time was six seconds faster than at Honor Roll," Kelly said.
The Huskies, boys and girls, had 29 athletes earn All-State honors (top eight).
"It was a pretty good day," Kelly said.
Kalkaska's Dylan Henderson placed in the discus and shot put. He took third in the discus (156-8) and seventh in the shot put (50-2).
Elk Rapids Thais Grays finished fourth in the (11.17). Charlevoix's Nick Plude, Will Jeakle, Vinny Vonlan and Andrew Plude came in fourth in the 3,200 relay (8:12.57).
Traverse City Central's Ryan Gemmell placed seventh in the boys pole vault, clearing 13-10. He was the only Trojan to place.
Central's Molly Walker came in seventh in the girls shot put (37-0). Walker, who's been battling a stress fracture in her leg, committed to Michigan State as a preferred walk-on last Tuesday.
Cadillac's Riley Norman and Petoskey's Louis Lamberti won state championships in the field events. Norman captured the shot put (61-2.5) while Lamberti took the high jump (6-8).