Sylvia Johansen’s impact at the varsity level was immediate.
The Clinton High freshman sensation smoked the field in winning the 55 meters at the Nelson-Daniel Classic—an indoor track and field meet at UW-Whitewater that annually kicks off the high school spring season.
She hasn’t showed any signs of slowing down since.
Johansen has lost only one race all season and will be one of the favorites in both the 100-meter and 200-meter dashes when the WIAA Division 2 state meet takes place today and Saturday in La Crosse.
She owns the fastest time (12.29) in the state in the 100 in Division 2 this season and has not lost a race in the 200. Johansen also anchors Clinton’s 400 relay team.
That squad also includes Candice Koehl, Morgan Peterson and Hannah Welta.
Clinton boys and girls track coach Jake Standiford said his freshman phenom has been as good as advertised.
“I knew after watching Sylvia run back in middle school that she had a chance to be really special,” Standiford said. “But to do what she’s done this season against girls two and three years older than her is pretty incredible.
“She gets out of the blocks better than anybody and has unbelievable finishing speed.”
Johansen battled a hip flexor injury earlier in the season, so Standiford has limited her to just running events. But he believes at some point in her prep career that she’ll be one of the top long jumpers in the state.
“We debated about letting Sylvia run the trifecta at regionals with the 100, 200 and 400, but anyone that knows her, knows she’s all about the team,” Standiford said. “She wanted to go to state with her friends and teammates, which meant putting her in the relay and not having her run the 400, even though she would’ve been one of the favorites in that event.”
The Clinton boys also hope to find success in the relays. The Cougars qualified their 400 and 1,600 relay teams. Clinton is the defending state champion in the 1,600 relay.
Milton’s Chesebro four-time state qualifier
Katie Chesebro is no stranger to the state meet.
The Milton High senior qualified for the Division 1 meet in the high jump for the fourth straight year. She cleared 5-foot-3 at the sectional meet, with Sophie Mink of DeForest clearing 5-6 to lead all entrants.
“Katie has cleared 5-4, and if she can do that at state she likely end her career on the podium,” Milton coach Matt Lee said.
“And it’s state, where anything can happen.
“Regardless of what happens, making it to state four straight years is pretty impressive. Not many kids can say that.”
Milton also has two hurdlers that are among the best in D1 in juniors Chrissy Hughes and Dane Nelson. Hughes also qualified for state last year.
“Those two have such great focus,” Lee said of his hurdlers. “If they both can run smooth races, they both have an excellent shot at a medal.”
In Division 2, Beloit Turner’s Jo’Vontae Coleman is the top seed in the triple jump. The senior was second at state in the event a year ago.
In the Wheelchair Division, Orfordville Parkview’s Isaac Morris qualified in four events. The sophomore is the top seed in shot put.