The legacy and strength of the Whitefish Bay girls cross country program is now in the realm of legend.
More than a decade's worth of North Shore Conference titles in a row, a constant figure at the WIAA State Meet, a state team title in 2008. The base is new concrete strong and miles deep built on the strong legs and bottomless lungs of innumerable hard-working runners like Megan Palmer, Annie Talajkowski, Emma-Lisa Murphy, Heather Bolingbroke and many, many others.
Welcome to this tradition, freshman Camille Davre, a talent of unsurpassed ability. A national junior champion in track in the 800-meters whose time of two minutes, 12 seconds in that event, would have won the WIAA State Division 1 track title by more than three seconds last spring and is already better than that of Bay school record-holder Palmer, who happened to win a state title with that effort in the event in 2008.
In short, she is already a high-level NCAA Division I scholarship-level runner, who is no doubt already getting tons of collegiate mail despite the fact that she has barely started high school.
The tallish (5-8), strong, long-striding Davre is said to be a people person and she is going to work hard to become part of the team, to become part of the great tradition. To be part of a dominating team that already returned all seven of its top runners from a year ago.
She burst onto the stage on Sept. 12 when she won a furious battle at the finish with two other excellent runners at the Arrowhead Invitational in a scorchingly fast time of 14 minutes, 15 seconds on the 4,000-meter layout.
Then she ran off to soccer practice. Yes, she is also participating in a high level area club soccer team this fall.
Veteran coach Mike Miller knows he has to walk a fine line with a talent as rare as this.
"She's a great kid, super talented, a national-class runner," Miller said. "I have no doubt that she's a very good soccer player, but she is an excellent runner. She could be a really great runner."
And she could break a glass ceiling at Bay, for despite all its team success, the Blue Dukes have never had an individual state cross country champion.
Welcome to the world of high expectations, Ms. Davre, and good luck.
Her arrival at Bay is serendipitous in another way for this talented Blue Dukes team because 2012 individual North Shore Conference champion sophomore Hannah Lyons is still coming back from a hip injury but she is expected to try things out when the Blue Dukes hold their co-ed Vanden Avond Invitational at Kletzsch Park on Thursday.
The varsity girls race will be at 5:15 p.m. and the boys is at 5:45 p.m.
In addition, the Blue Dukes depth will get tested with other injuries as both juniors Jessica O'Neill and Sydney Wellenstein are still out and questionable as to their return.
"But we are pretty deep," Miller said, "and the competition breeds great things. We still have dreams of catching the likes of Arrowhead and Neenah."
That's because senior Sara Coffey is off to an amazing start to her season and other veterans like junior Reilly Koch, sophomore Kylee Kennedy, junior Haleigh Morton, sophomore Claire Hentzen, and senior Alana Blegen are looking to build on a surprisingly good sixth place state finish last season with a very young squad.
And in two meets, they have gone forward. They scored 74 points in the Arrowhead meet as the defending state champion Warhawks dominated things with a 35 point total.
In the end, Davre (14:14.95) held off the likes of University Lake School senior Isabel Seidel (14:16.72) and Shorewood's Morgan Florsheim (14:17.2) on the flat and fast Arrowhead course.
She got help from Coffey in fourth (14:43), Koch in 20th (15:36), Kennedy in 24th (15:43) and Morton in 25th (15:45). Also running were Hentzen in 27th (15:48), Blegen in 31st (16:02) and sophomore Meghan Graham in 46th (16:24).
"It's encouraging to have a group of runners in the 15:30s and 15:40s already," Miller said. "That means we can dig deep and break down the things we need to do to get to the next level."
As for the Blue Dukes boys, Miller has been very encouraged despite severe graduation losses including high-level state meet finisher and individual North Shore Conference champion Nate Gomoll, who is currently the sixth man for the Marquette University team.
Sophomore George Papajohn, junior Aaron Jankins, senior Patrick Konrath, sophomore Blake Bostwick, senior Darien Yeager, senior Jack Mueller, junior Ben Bergquist and junior Carson Schier are on a varsity group that is largely made up of junior varsity runners from 2012.
"They are a bunch of guys who have moved forward a great deal," Miller said. "Some have improved by anywhere from 30 seconds to two minutes already. They've made us competitive already."
They helped the Blue Dukes to a sound seventh-place finish in the 14-school Arrowhead field with 203 points as West Bend West won with 47 points.
Papajohn led the way for Bay on the 5,000-meter layout with a 17th-place clocking of 16:55, while Jankins was 43rd (17:19), Konrath 45th (17:20), Bostwick 46th (17:23) and Yeager 52nd (17:31) filled out the scoring ranks.
Also running were Mueller in 55th (17:34), Bergquist in 57th (17:35) and Schier in 84th (18:26).
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