For the first time in her three-year run of excellence on the state distance-running circuit, Whitefish Bay seven-time WIAA state track champion Camille Davre wasn't the center of attention at the state meet that was held June 3 and 4 in La Crosse.
That position was taken over by a crop of highly talented freshmen, especially the record-setting, three-time sprint champion Brooke Jaworski of Wausau West.
So the junior Davre just quietly went about her business on a sunny June 4 afternoon, turning back strong challenges in both the 800- and 1,600-meter races, running tactically sound races and using her patented kick each time to claim her third state titles in both events.
Afterward, she was more relieved than anything else.
'I know people expect a lot out of me,' she said, 'and I also put a lot of pressure on myself because I have very high expectations. I know I have the confidence, but I do also have doubts. I just need to have the confidence to go out and run my races.'
Her distance coach, Mike Miller, was pleased with how she handled that tenuous situation, especially in terms of dealing with the competition.
'It was better than last year,' he said. 'There was some real competition there. But we had a game plan because we know no one has a kick like Cami. We knew that they would try to take the kick out of here (with a strong pace). We just told her to hang on as close as you can and then put yourself in a position to pass.
'Just wait for that killer instinct to come out.'
That was especially the case in her first race, the 1,600, as Davre had to face down Eau Claire Memorial's Aubrey Roberts, who had set a new state record in the 3,200 the day before in hot and windy conditions ('That showed us that she really had the goods,' Miller said), as well as Middleton's talented Samantha Valentine.
Roberts did exactly as Miller and Davre thought she would, taking the race out at a brutal pace for the first three-plus laps.
'I think Cami was thinking, 'I know she can't keep up this pace. I know she can't keep this up,'' Miller said.
The problem was, Roberts was not letting up and Valentine was next to both of them.
But also as expected, Davre did stay close enough, and on the last lap, gradually made her move, passing Roberts and taking control on the final stretch. Valentine made a late surge, but there wasn't enough time.
Davre won in an impressive 4:46.4, her fastest time of the season since the New Balance National Indoor meet two months ago, while Valentine came across in 4:46.87 and Roberts in 4:47.66.
No one was within 13 seconds of the trio. Miller called it 'the best girls 1,600 race in state history.'
Davre was just happy with the win.
'It was definitely a tactical race' she said. 'I knew that they were going to try and gap me, that Aubrey was going to try and run away. I just needed to work hard and focus on her back (staying close) because she was pushing me very hard.'
Later that day, the 800 race was even more difficult as a five-runner pack emerged again with Valentine in the mix along with the anchor of Waukesha West's state championship 4x800 relay, Emma Langer.
Again, the pace was pushed, and Davre hung with the group. Then on the final straight, she unleashed the kick against a group that had also started moving quickly. Davre didn't take the lead until there was less than 50 meters to go, pulling away for a victory in an impressive 2:11.13 as Valentine was again second in 2:12.15.
A total of five runners ran 2:12 or better.
'I just wanted to wait as long as I could because that 1,600 took a lot out of me,' Davre said. 'All of them ran well. You only have one shot at this, and it's a lot of pressure, but it's a great feeling when you're done and you get the result you want.'
Miller added, 'That was a tactically perfect race. I told her before the race that she is the best 800 runner out there, and then she told me that she was going to wait until the last 100 (meters). I was hoping the move would be a little more decisive because that was quite a last 100 (by everyone in the field).'
Davre, who is still mulling over her college choices, said she may take a bit of a break at the start of the summer before contemplating any summer national races before the fall cross-country season.
'We got her ready for two peaks this season,' Miller said. 'It was a long haul for her ... and we were concerned about her handling the pressure because everyone was gunning for her. Aubrey (Roberts), as everyone saw, has a full set of skills, and Valentine has an even better kick than Cami.
'But she (Davre) is on a different level than the rest of the runners.'
JACKSON, YURKOWITZ ALSO AT STATE
Davre wasn't the only runner for Bay at state, as Wisconsin recruit Kaitlyn Jackson closed out her fine career with a sixth place medal in the 200 dash (25.35). She couldn't quite make the finals in the 100 (15th, 12.98) or the 400 (15th, 59.41). Junior pole vaulter Aly Yurkowitz had a tough state meet as she was one of nine competitors who didn't clear a height. Jackson is pleased with her career, which included a state team title last season.
'No, it wasn't the meet I was looking for, but I'm still pleased with my accomplishments,' she said. 'I can't be disappointed, it's nothing but awesomeness (laughs). I'm super-excited about Wisconsin and excited about what the future will hold. I'm hoping to be an orthopedic surgeon someday.'
Bay finished 11th in the state field with 23 points as Milwaukee King won with 44.