The WIAA Division 1 girls track and field state meet has been the proving ground for superstars the past couple seasons, with Bradley Tech phenoms Dezerea Bryant and Elexis Fuller-Stewart each winning three state titles in the 2011 and 2012, respectively.
On Saturday, Waukesha West senior Hannah Rohde took her place among the very elite athletes ever to set foot on the track in LaCrosse.
She ran 12.44 seconds in the 100, 24.77 in the 200 and 54.92 in the 400, setting a state record in the latter event by eclipsing the mark set by Chidera Obasih of Brookfield Central in 2010 (55.18). All three were good for state titles, and Rohde had become a household name for state prep track fans.
'It feels so great; I can't believe it,' she said. 'I really can't believe it. I just kept working, kept eating healthy, doing all the right things. I would have liked to try it last year (running the 400), but I wanted to run in a relay. This year we thought we'd give it a shot and see where I am, and I ended up doing well.'
Rohde took third in the 100 and second in the 200 last year, with Fuller-Stewart winning both races. But the 400 was a new discipline this year, and clearly, she took to it just fine.
'I didn't realize it was a state record until I saw the board,' Rohde said. 'It was mind-numbing. I didn't think about it at all; I just focused on my races and went for it. I felt the best in the 400, I felt I could go miles and miles. I just never really tried the 400 until this year. It was really scary at first, but I'm learning to love it.'
West very nearly pulled through with the Division 1 team title as well, scoring 46 points and finishing two points shy of Kenosha Tremper. The 4x400-meter relay team (Libby Horan, Carrie Brick, Megan Bur, Emma Langer) outperformed its ninth-best seed time to take seventh in the final race of the meet, but it needed to finish two places higher to match Tremper's point total — a thrilling finish to the state meet.
Horan, Brick, Bur and Langer delivered a second-place showing the 4x800, running 9:29.25 — a huge upgrade from the team's No. 10 seed time of 9:41.91.
The freshman Langer took third in the 800 (2:16.54) in her first state meet.
Chmura wins twice
Dylan Chmura of Waukesha West won both throws events, taking the shot put in 59 feet, 9 3/4 inches and adding a crown in the discus at 171-11.
The Michigan State football recruit took ninth in the shot put last year in his only previous state-meet experience.
South boys take sixth
The Waukesha South boys scored 32 points and landed in sixth place in the Division 1 meet.
Top showings came from the 4x400 of Isaiah Pitchford, Justin Washington, Michael Cournia and DQ Smith, which took second in 3:17.86, part of a blistering conclusion to the meet. Washington, Alex Sayles, Brad Woodford and Smith also took second in the 4x800 at 7:45.34.
Woodford took third in the 1600 (4:14.28) and 3200 (9:18.13). Pitchford took sixth in the 400, and Smith took eighth in the 100.
On the girls side, Natalie Gottschalk of South took seventh in the long jump.