Milwaukee King pulled off an unusual feat Saturday at the state girls track and field meet, easily winning the Division 1 team championship without the benefit of an individual state title. Brookfield East, which landed in second place, did not share in that curious distinction.
Allie Bullen, whose twin brother had a monumental day in helping the boys team win the overall title, was no slouch herself. The senior claimed a state title in the long jump by clearing 18 feet, 31/4 inches, with plenty of breathing room to bypass Nadia Williams of Mount Horeb, who won the Division 2 long jump title in 2015.
'I wanted to make my mark on the Brookfield East team one more time as I go off to West Point,' Bullen said. 'I wanted to make it to the podium in both my events. I've had amazing coaches and amazing teammates to cheer me on.'
Earlier in the day, Bullen notched third place in the 100-meter hurdles, running in 14.91 seconds for bronze. That left her responsible for 16 of East's 30.5 points, which was just ahead of Oregon and Wausau West for second place, an extremely tight battle for second place in the team standings. Three other teams scored 29 points.
Milwaukee King won the day with 44 points, riding a slew of top-five finishes despite no titles.
Bullen has been one of the state's top long jumpers all season but came to state with the No. 6 seed.
'It was better that I was lower seeded and not at the top,' Bullen said, believing that the underdog status negated the pressure of the moment. She thought Waukesha South's Armoni Brown had landed a better jump on her last attempt, one that was good enough for third place but not enough to unseat Bullen.
Allie also was among the first to greet brother Drew when he anchored a 4x200-meter relay that won by one one-hundredth of a second. Bullen also ran the final leg on a team title-clinching 4x400 relay and on a second-place 4x100. He also took second in his own long jump competition. The Bullens will both attend West Point next year.
'I'm always cheering him on; I'm his No. 1 fan,' Allie said. '(The 4x2) was an amazing finish by Drew. We really push each other, but we're also there for one another, in practice and in meets.'
Other Brookfield East athletes were getting sibling support as well, including junior high jumper Eleni Tongas, who tied for fifth in clearing 5-4. The event is a bit of a specialty for East, with three state titles in the discipline in the past decade, including Khadiya Hollingsworth in 2015 and 2013.
'I learned a lot of Khadiya,' Tongas said. 'She was a lot of fun to work with and learn from. I was very confident because of that. I was so excited to get back here. I just wanted to do well because my brothers were here giving me a big rooting section. I'm very excited about next year. I want to get back here and do ever better.'
The two-day state meet in La Crosse was also a showcase for distance runner Rachel Werking. She took sixth in the 1,600 on Saturday in 5:03.05, but her big event came in the 3,200 one day earlier, when she ran 10:58.83 for a solid second place.
'This feels very good because I didn't think I had this in me,' said Werking, who will run at Wisconsin next year. 'I was sick all last week, and I was just hoping to get on the podium ... sophomore year I didn't even finish the race, and last year, I was sick. This was my last chance. I finally thought that this year (I would do well) if I could just push on through.'
On top of the illness, Werking was battling through a hip flexor injury.
'It was tough to think about, but I had to push on through (the pain).'
Sophomore Lizzy Cagle took 10th in the shot put (39 feet), and East's 4x400-meter relay team of Sierra Fischer, Sarah Werking, Suzie Swietlik and Emily Breider took 11th in preliminaries, missing the finals by one spot.