Shorewood senior distance runner Morgan Florsheim made her final WIAA state track appearance on June 3 on a drippy and rapidly cooling evening in La Crosse and made it seven medals in seven state races by earning a sixth in the D2 3,200 race with a season best of 11:01.58.
In the past, the achievement might have been a disappointment, a cause for concern, as Florsheim won the D2 state individual cross-country title as a sophomore and has many other high-level state track and cross-country finishes on her resume.
But given what the last year has been like for the thoughtful, introspective and kind person, she was absolutely ecstatic with the result.
'I was definitely aware of it (a top-six finish) during the race,' she chuckled afterward. 'There were people yelling at me 'You're in a pack of seven.' I yelled back, 'I got it, I got it.' One girl passed me, and I knew I had to stick with her, and when I did, I knew I was in the top six.
'And it is very gratifying to get this. This is good. I could have winged it, but I chose to run it hard. It was really the only thing I could do because this was the most competitive 2-mile of the day, and it was so much fun to be a part of it.'
Her coaches were proud of her.
'That is such an accomplishment for Morgan, her family and her event coach, Sarah Kopplin,' said Greyhound head coach Dominic Newman.
In short, the finish and the medal lent a perfect grace note to a senior season that could have gotten away completely from Florsheim but didn't.
As documented in earlier stories, the powerhouse runner suffered some race anxiety during the fall cross-country season. The fast times and first-place finishes she was used to disappeared. She didn't fall off the face of the earth, but things were not right.
She spoke openly about the situation and consulted with a sports psychologist, whom she still speaks with occasionally. She finished the fall season on a fairly positive note.
But then came the winter and far more commonplace maladies for runners started to plague her — situations that she has been able to avoid in the past.
'That made it a different kind of season for me,' she said. 'I developed tendonitis in my knee, but that turned out to be a bit of a blessing in disguise for me. It allowed me to reset a little bit and relax a little. I just started working with what I thought I could do.
'For six straight weeks, I did not run at all, so I had to work hard to come back, but as it turned out I ramped up too quickly, and I developed shin splits. I had to learn to be patient, and I took a little more time off.'
By that time, it was about the start of track season.
'I definitely didn't have the training base I'm used to having. It again tested my ability to be patient,' she said. 'I just found myself feeling lucky to be running at all. I came into track with basically nothing at all (of a base) so I did some cross-training to try and get back.
'I felt like a freshman again.'
But gradually she worked her way back.
'I had to look at things differently and learn how to race again,' she said. 'I wound up having a great time, and that was really good for the mental side of things. I stopped stressing over races. I think that come fall, that will be great. There won't be that mental pressure.'
Fall will be important because last October, she committed to attend Brown University in the Ivy League and run for the cross-country team. She will major in the interdisciplinary sciences and is excited about figuring out what she wants to do with her life.
'It'll really give me a chance to explore,' she said.
She's also pleased former Tosa East star runner Natalie Schudrowitz is on the Brown team
But before all that happens, Florsheim wanted to finish up well this spring. As she got healthier, it got easier to run. She was still able to win a couple of titles at the Woodland Conference outdoor, and then she worked hard to qualify for the D2 state meet in the 3,200.
A seventh state race, with a seventh state medal at stake.
And now, it is safely in hand.
'I was just excited to be here (in La Crosse) and excited to be healthy because two months ago I felt I was lucky to be running at all,' she said. 'It was just great to have this opportunity.'
She heads off to Shorewood's graduation on June 9 in a relaxed, peaceful frame of mind. The ups and downs of being an athlete have taught her much, she said, and she is ready for the next step.
'It's not been at all like I expected,' Florsheim said, 'but I think it's been all for the best. Every runner has something they have to go through, something they have to learn from.'
Lessons she'll no doubt patiently apply to great effect in the future.