Greenfield - Rachel Stave and Mary Erickson of Whitnall overcame the best competition the state had to offer as well as blazing heat to earn top-three spots at the WIAA Division 1 state track and field meet Friday and Saturday.
Stave finished second in the triple jump with 37 feet-6½ inches, just a few inches behind winner Kristin Heckel of Waukesha West, who notched 37-9¼.
Erickson captured third place in the 1,600-meter run with 5 minutes, 6.21 seconds to earn her spot to the state medal stand at Memorial Stadium in La Crosse.
Stave is a sophomore who in two years has already developed a knack for rising to the occasion on the big stages, having won the state diving championship last fall.
"It was an amazing day," she said of her efforts in the triple jump on Friday. "In the finals, every jump was a personal best except for one scratch. It's a nice feeling. It's not quite as nice as (the diving crown), but it is very nice. This (the state meet) is very exciting, and the atmosphere is just amazing."
She thought her prowess in diving helped her in track this season.
"I'm not sure how much diving helps in this," she continued, "but I think it does aid me in my coordination."
Erickson is a senior who capped an exceptional athletic career at Whitnall with her third place in the 1,600, which was run on Friday on a track where the heat index reached 104 degrees.
"This feels good," she said. "It was a really good race. I was actually waiting to have a pretty good race and yes, it was hot, but it was hot for everybody.
"It hasn't really sunk in yet, but I'm sure it will soon. It's just great to have all this work pay off. I really didn't believe I could do this, and what a great atmosphere up here. It's so great to have all these fans cheering you on like that."
The efforts by Stave and Erickson gave the Falcons 14 points, good for a tie for 14th place in the team standings.
Erickson also captured 13th in the 800 run (2:18.99) and Stave took 21st in the 400 dash (1:00.49).
Each also ran on relays for Whitnall. Erickson teamed with junior Danika Johnson, junior Carrie Ingish and senior Katherine Crivello for 10th place in the 4x800 race (9:32.98) and Stave paired with sophomore Meredith Heller, junior Nancy Czerwinski and sophomore Jenny Lawton for 18th place in the 4x400 (4:08.97).
Heller also came in 14th (47.1) in the 300 hurdles to round out the Falcons' entries.
The strong state showing capped a good year for Whitnall, which was in the top five of most of its meets, including sharing the Woodland Conference Outdoor crown with South Milwaukee.
-NOW sportswriter Steven L. Tietz contributed to this story
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