By the time her track and field career ended late Saturday, Waukesha West's Emma Langer had climbed the podium nine times at Memorial Stadium in LaCrosse and had finished in the top 10 on 12 occasions. But finally, she had a chance to step all the way to the top.
Competing in the 4x800-meter relay, a unit that included sister Becca Langer, Samantha Hanson and freshman Brooke Lytle, the Wolverines brought in the first state championship of the Division 1 meet Friday, and they left no doubt doing it. The time of 9 minutes, 11.81 seconds was well ahead of second-place Arrowhead (9:19.61).
'We've been training for the 800 all year; our workouts are specific to the 800, and we do a lot of speed work,' Emma Langer said to the Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel. 'We knew coming into this we had the best lineup — there's three of us in the open (800) — and we knew if we just executed and did everything we've been working on all season, there was no way we wouldn't be able to go out and win.'
Emma will run at the University of Wisconsin next year. She also has two appearances at the state cross-country meet on her resume with West, and though she was taking the baton from her sister in the 4x800, she'll be handing it off going forward. Becca passed the baton to the anchor Emma with plenty of room to spare for the final two laps around the track.
'Whether we were already going to have a lead or not, I wanted to get as much of a lead as I could,' Becca told the MJS.
The next day, Emma took third in the 800 meters, with Becca right behind in fourth. Cami Davre of Whitefish Bay, a junior who already had two state titles under her belt, once again stood in the way of any other hopefuls in the 800.
'I actually didn't know I was behind her until I finished, but since this was my first open 8, I just really wanted to just go out and run my hardest,' Becca said Saturday. 'I knew there were really great runners ahead of me, so I just tried to stay with her the best I could.'
Emma ran 2:12.24, and Becca crossed in 2:12.79. Hanson was close behind in seventh at 2:15.94.
'I wish I could have done better, but I'm going to take third place,' Emma said. 'Those girls that beat me, they're great runners, and honestly, I'm just really happy to have ended my season like this and with my teammates like this; it's just a great end to the season.'
Both runners were also on board the West 4x400, which posted the best preliminaries time and ultimately took fifth in the finals. Becca and Emma ran the middle two legs before handing it off to Hanson at the anchor. Maddie Frey ran the leadoff leg, and the team's time of 3:53.82 was within one second of a state record. It was a race where each of the top three finishers broke the previous-standing record mark from 2013.
Lytle took seventh in the 3,200 in 11:12.06 to cap a strong first state meet. Frey took 16th in the open 200, and Cassidy Kundinger took 20th in the high jump. Marie Joannes did not record a height in the pole vault.
The showing was good enough to rack up 29 team points, within striking distance of second place in the overall standings. Milwaukee King (44) won the meet, with Brookfield East (30.5) just ahead of two teams with 30 and three more with 29.
South nearly wins 4x100
A state championship was narrowly out of reach of the Waukesha South 4x100-meter relay team of Daeonna Johnson, Kaylee Gessay, Jestine Green and Aromni Brown, who ran 47.99 to finish second behind defending state champion Wauwatosa West (47.91).
'We were in Lane 6, and we came in second, which was awesome,' said Brown, a sophomore who also took third in the long jump. 'We were so close to coming in first, but it was awesome to take second.'
Green, a junior along with Gessay, said watching Brown compete in the long jump carried enthusiasm over to the sprint relay.
'Her excitement for the event transferred through to the 4x1,' Green said. 'We really just went after it.'
Tosa West was anchored by Cheri'A Adams, an elite sprinter who tweaked an ankle earlier in the meet but nonetheless willed her team to victory.
'She's still an awesome runner; we saw her last year too, so we knew what she had coming,' Green said. 'We just knew we had to go out hard and compete with them, be on their tail and keep going.'
With Tosa West graduating two runners and South keeping three of four, the future is bright.
'Last year, our goal was to get to state,' Brown said. 'This year, the podium was our No. 1 goal. It's so awesome to be able to achieve it.'
Brown's best distance in the long jump was recorded on her final jump, an 18-1 that slotted her third. She also took 12th in the triple jump, and Green placed 13th in the open 200. Michaela Pryor of Waukesha North landed on the podium in the 300 hurdles, taking sixth in 45.68 seconds.
Others competing in the girls meet were Waukesha North's Carly Burlingame in the pole vault (15th) and 100 hurdles (19th), Allie Gartner of North in the discus (15th),
On the boys side, Austin Rendon of South took seventh in the 800 (1:56.48), and Justice Graf of North placed eighth in the discus (155-0).
Others competing at state were Spencer Muffler of North (20th in 1,600), Jalen Pickett Vance of South (16th in 110 hurdles), the South 4x100 of Chris Schroeder, Tyler Knigge, Jacob Pilon and Pickett-Vance (20th), the North 4x800 of Adam Schmidt, Chris Lehouillier, Collin Ribar and Chase Goodings (12th), Isaiah Leaders of North in the long jump (12th), Eric McDonald of North in the triple jump (13th), Anthony Johnson of South in the 100 (20th) and Xavier Phillips of North in the 200 (20th).