Tina Shelton is unequivocally, without a doubt, completely back.
She has a conference title to prove it.
"I'm 100%," the Janesville Parker junior proclaimed between deep breaths following her final race at Friday's Big Eight Conference track and field meet at Madison La Follette's Lussier Stadium.
Shelton, who missed most of the winter basketball season with a severe leg injury, committed herself to her rehab, ensuring she would be healthy by the time track season rolled around in late March.
"I did everything I could to get back to hopefully at least close to where I was," Shelton said as "I just love track so much that I pushed myself every day."
It's clear she isn't holding anything back anymore.
Shelton ran the first leg in Parker's first-place girls 4x200-meter relay. Thanks to the effort of Shelton, Amber Schoville and Brooke Graesslin, anchor Ryann Porter was able to cross the finish line with no one else in sight. The Vikings posted a time of 1 minute, 46.24 seconds to top runner-up Middleton by more than 2 seconds.
Shelton added a pair of second-place finishes in the 100 and 200, helping Parker's girls score 52 points to finish sixth. Porter also finished second in the 100 hurdles, while Graesslin was second in the 400.
All told, Janesville's athletes brought home two individual titles and two relay championships.
Sun Prairie totaled 152 points clinch its third straight girls conference title, followed closely by Madison Memorial (144) and Middleton (135). Janesville Craig tied for eighth with 21 points.
Middleton extended its reign in the boys competition, totaling 152 points to breeze to its seventh straight title. Parker (47) was seventh, followed by Craig (40) in eighth.
Leverson pushed in 800
One of the evening's most entertaining races was the boys' 800, where Janesville Craig's Aaron Leverson held off a late kick by Middleton's Braedon Gilles to win his first conference title. Gilles flew past Leverson with about 120 meters left, forcing Leverson, the pre-race favorite, to give chase.
The Craig senior caught Gilles on the final straightaway and won with a time of 2 minutes, 1.49 seconds.
"I was kind of worried this week because I didn’t get to run the past two days. I was home sick," Leverson said. "I grinded my way through school today so I could be here."
Leverson chatted pleasantly with Gilles during pre-race warmups. The two have faced off often over the last few weeks.
"When I saw that kid pass me that kind of scared me a bit. I tried to go with him," Leverson said. "I felt like I had to take it, because I didn’t want it to be a full sprint between everybody the last 100."
Earlier in the meet, Leverson teamed with sophomore Bryan Bloomquist, junior Matthew Dillon and senior Zander Arena to win the 3,200 relay in 8:08.34.
"We know Aaron, what he’s going to do for us, but to have those contributors come down so much in their times was a pleasant surprise. It’s great it happened tonight," Craig boys coach Jeff Deininger said.
Parker senior Brody Lippens completed the 300 hurdles in 41.25 seconds to win the Vikings' first title in the event since Marquise Brooks (2016). Lippens sliced more than half a second off his previous season-best time.
And after winning, Lippens helped Middleton's Stuart Wodzro walk off the track. Wodzro appeared to injure himself while clearing one of the final hurdles.
Lippens also placed third in the 110 hurdles.
Vikings senior Tremar Curry continued his breakout season, claiming second in the triple jump with a distance of 43 feet, 5.75 inches.
Hulick leads Craig girls
Craig sophomore Clare Hulick took fourth in the girls 800 in 2:25.50, while freshman Jessa Alderman surprised by taking sixth in the shot put with a throw of 35-5.
"We had some good performances. It was a good test to see where we stacked up," Craig girls coach Brad Troeger said.
Another sophomore, Brynn Blaser, reached the finals in the triple jump. Her best jump, 31-7.75, was good for sixth.
Big Eight Meet
At Lussier Stadium, Madison
Middleton 152, Verona 124, Madison West 76, La Follette 75.5, Sun Prairie 68.5, Madison Memorial 60, Janesville Parker 47, Janesville Craig 40, Beloit Memorial 31, Madison East.
EVENT WINNERS AND TOP 3 CITY FINISHERS
100--1. Kelvin Opoku-Appoh, West, 11.05. 200--1. Cooper Nelson, SP, 22.84. 400--1. Kobe Chandler, BM, 50.30. 800--1. Aaron Leverson, Craig, 2:01.49. 1600--1. Caleb Easton, Midd, 4:23.27. 3200--Easton, Midd, 9:39.10.
110 hurdles--1. Casey Hellenbrand, Midd, 15.57; 3. Brody Lippens, Parker, 15.85. 300--1. Lippens, Parker, 41.25.
400 relay--1. Madison West, 42.81. 800 relay--1. La Follette, 1:31.95. 1600 relay--1. Beloit, 3:26.18. 3,200 relay--1. Janesville Craig (Bryan Bloomquist, Matthew Dillon, Alekzander Arena, Aaron Leverson), 8:08.34.
Pole vault--1. Max Herkert, Verona, 14-0. Triple jump--1. Ladell Cannon, LF, 45-0.5; 2. Tremar Curry, Parker, 43-5.75. High jump--1. JT Hawkins, Verona, 6-2. Long jump--1. Marques Winters, Midd, 20-10. Shot put--1. Jackson Acker, Verona, 52-6.5. Discus--Acker, Verona, 172-10.
Sun Prairie 152, Madison Memorial 144, Middleton 135, La Follette 68, Verona 62, Janesville Parker 52, Madison West 41, Madison East 21, Janesville Craig 21, Beloit Memorial 5.
EVENT WINNERS AND TOP 3 CITY FINISHERS
100--1. Micah Wade, Mad. Memorial, 12.55; 2. Tina Shelton, Parker, 12.68. 200--1. Morgan Cross, SP, 26.17; 2. Shelton, Parker, 26.28. 400--1. Gabbi Butler, Midd, 1:00.10; 2. Brooke Graesslin, Parker, 1:00.60. 800--1. Leah Remiker, Verona, 2:22.00. 1600--1. Shea Ruhly, Midd, 5:13.43. 3200--1. Lauren Pansegrau, Midd, 10:56.94.
100 hurdles--1. Brooke Crosby, SP, 15.23; 2. Ryann Porter, Parker, 15.45. 300 hurdles--1. Crosby, SP, 47.11.
400 relay--1. Madison Memorial, 50.12. 800 relay--1. Janesville Parker (Shelton, Amber Schoville, Graesslin, Porter), 1:46.24. 1600 relay--1. Sun Prairie, 4:07.79. 3,200 relay--1. Sun Prairie, 9:41.03.
High jump--1. Grace Korger-Mitchell, Mad. Memorial, 5-2. Long jump--1. Kiara Lee, LF, 18-1.25. Triple jump--1. Lee, LF, 37-9.25. Shot put--1. Reette Thorns, Mad. Memorial, 42-2.5. Discus--1. Cynthia Rosales, Mad. Memorial, 130-0. Pole vault--1. Ashley O'Connell, SP, 11-0.