Chloe Larsen and Sarah Bova have only been at Waunakee High School for two years, but in that short amount of time, they’ve made quite the mark on the Warrior track and field team.
“They call us the sophomore sensations, so we like to stick together,” said Larsen. “We’re like PB and J.”
Larsen and Bova combined to have a huge weekend for the Warriors in La Crosse, propelling the girls’ team to a sixth-place finish at the WIAA State meet. Larsen emerged as the WIAA State Champion in the 400-meter dash, and the two teamed up for a second-place finish in the 4x400 relay.
WIAA State Meet
Waunakee’s pair of sophomores set the stage for a big Day 2 finale with strong performances on Friday’s first day of competition. Each qualified for the finals in the 400, while Bova also qualified for the 200-meter dash finals.
In their final race of the day, Larsen and Bova teamed up with Kylee Grabarski and Riley Armstrong to set a new school record – beating their previous mark set less than a week prior – in the 4x400 relay by nearly two seconds with a time of 3:55.88.
Two other girls had races on Friday for the Warriors. Reagan Hoopes closed a prolific career at Waunakee with another top-10 finish at State, this time in the 800-meter run. Her time of 2:16.47 placed ninth overall.
Hayley Krysinski raced twice on Friday in both the 100 and 300-meter hurdles races. Her times of 15.92 in the 100 hurdles and 47.55 in the 300 hurdles fell just short of qualifying for finals on Saturday.
Waunakee’s final competitor – Nathan Mais – was also the only Warrior to qualify in a field event. In the triple jump, Mais leaped 42’1.5”, but it wasn’t quite far enough to qualify for finals.
This meant the Warriors had three races remaining in finals on Saturday.
Larsen was seeded third in her first race of the day – the 400-meter dash – while Bova was seeded seventh.
Though Larsen didn’t get off to the most blazing start of all the competitors in the field, she made a big move in the last half of the race to put herself in position to win.
“Right around the 200 [mark],” Larsen said of when she realized the race was hers to lose. “The last 200, 100… I guess I was just feeling it today.”
Pulling away from the pack, Larsen finished over half a second ahead of second-place Savanah Balcerak from Muskego to earn the title of WIAA State Champion, setting a new school record in the 400-meter dash with a time of 56.91.
“I was getting tired…” added Larsen. “But I wanted to just leave it all on the track.”
Not far behind was Bova, who also outraced her seed to come in fourth place with a time of 58.66, earning a spot alongside Larsen on the podium.
Following Bova’s decision to pull out of the 200-meter dash finals – where she was seeded 10th to focus on the 4x400 – the Warriors had one final race remaining.
The field remained tightly packed through three runners – Bova, Armstrong and Grabarski for the Warriors – with barely one second separating the leaders from Waunakee in fifth place. In fifth when she grabbed the baton, Larsen turned on the jets one more time; it didn’t take long for her to pass three of the four runners ahead of her.
Only Stevens Point – with the nation’s fastest 800-meter runner in Roisin Willis – managed to stay ahead of Larsen. The second-place finish in the 4x400 vaulted Waunakee to sixth-place overall out of all Division 1 teams with a total of 23 points.
“It was absolutely amazing,” said Bova the Warriors’ final race of the season.
Waunakee’s runners were quick to credit alternates Jocelyn Meinholz and Monique Thole – each of whom had taken their turn in the 4x400 lineup throughout the season – for getting the team to State.
“We’re a 6x400,” the team joked after the conclusion of the race.