Whitefish Bay distance runner Camille Davre was playing it coy after she and the Blue Dukes put together their best effort of the season in overpowering the field in the WIAA sectional meet at Lincoln Park Golf Course in Glendale on Oct. 22.
The win put the Blue Dukes back in their accustomed spot of the state meet in Wisconsin Rapids on Saturday, Oct. 29, on The Ridges Golf Course. It also put the multi-time state track champion Davre on the spot. She is the top returning runner to the state field, having taken second last season.
A victory at state cross-country would be another major chapter in her success story, but she really didn't want to talk about that possibility just yet. She wanted to speak more about the young team that has come together so well.
"I was really impressed with everyone today," she said. "We had only three returning runners from last year, and then the others were freshmen. They just grew so much during the season. I really couldn't be more proud. The freshmen really surprised themselves and us."
But when pressed just a little, she did express some very clear thoughts on what will be her fourth trip to the state meet.
"I think it's going to be good," she said. "This was the first year I really ran over the summer. I feel stronger than I've ever been, but there are others out there, great runners who are peaking, too (like DSHA's Meghan Scott). State is an entirely different animal. To race there, on that (difficult) course, you have to be smart.
"All I know right now is that I plan on chasing and that it will be a great race."
Coach Mike Miller was pleased for his senior leader and the team overall.
"Everything really worked today," he said. "It was just tremendous, the best team race of the year. They paced themselves very well, and they turned in a very strong last mile. They looked like a real team that second lap. They were just passing people the entire second loop."
The girls team will be joined by senior Blue Duke boys runner David Potter, who earned his second individual team spot in pacing Bay to a sixth-place team finish.
Potter and the rest of the D1 boys field will start at Ridges at 1:10 p.m., while the girls will hear the gun at 3:05 p.m.
Miller said there's no pressure on the girls team this year or Potter. The main concern is to just improve on their efforts from last year. The girls were seventh at state, while Potter was a solid 35th in the close to 200-runner field last season.
If the girls turn in a race like they did at the sectional, they should be very competitive.
They won the meet with an impressive total of just 47 points as Menomonee Falls earned the other state team berth with 61 points.
Davre ran with a pack of about eight runners for the first half of the two-loop race on the gorgeous day before taking control. She covered the 5,000-meter course in 18:37, as old friend and competitor Sami Stieve of Germantown wound up second in 19:00.
Davre got support from freshman Maggie Keiper in third (19:05), while senior Ellie Hall ran her second strong race in a row, earning 10th (20:06). Other scoring runners included freshman Alexa Bartschat in 13th (20:21) and junior Josie Helf in 20th (20:36). Also running were freshmen Anika Horowitz in 26th (20:51) and Zoe Styler in 34th (21:02).
Miller admitted to some nerves before the race but noted his runners eased his mind greatly.
"I was really nervous for awhile," he said. "They were so far back at the mile (mark), I got a little squeamish, but I just had to have faith."
He was very pleased to have all five scoring runners in the top 20. Davre is also happy to be going back as a senior, especially with the team behind her.
"When I was out here as a freshman, people were telling me to enjoy it because it will go by so fast," she said, "and they were right. I can't believe I'm a senior already. Right now, the biggest thing for me is the team. Running as individual (at state) isn't as much fun. When you run as a team you get strength from one another."
Potter earned his individual spot with a seventh-place individual finish of 16:45 in leading the Blue Dukes to a 115-point total for their spot in the 11-team field. Homestead (65) and Germantown (77) earned the state team berths.
Other scoring runners included Noal Basil in 17th (17:05), Julian McCurdy in 24th (17:09), Nathan Ebersole in 31st (17:15) and Thomas Gonzales in 36th (17:29). Other runners included Eli Dyer in 40th (17:33) and Joe Pencak in 48th (17:48).
Pencak was the only senior on the first seven. Miller said the entire team ran well this day to finish out a solid season.