Danny Larson ended his high school career with a bang.
The Wauwatosa West senior won individual state championships in the 100 and 200 freestyle at the WIAA Division 1 state meet Feb. 18 at the University of Wisconsin Natatorium, leading the Wauwatosa Hurricanes co-op boys swimming and diving team to a 12th-place finish as a team.
Wauwatosa scored 72 points for its best team placement at state since taking 11th in 2014.
"I am very happy with our performance," Wauwatosa coach Heidi Hegwood said. "We improved every one of our seed times. Not only did we come home with two championship wins by Danny Larson and a sixth-place finish by Cal Hartt, but we also broke multiple team records."
Larson successfully defended his state title in the 100-yard freestyle with a time of 46.13 seconds, touching 0.27 seconds in front of Madison Memorial's Drake Horton and 0.28 seconds ahead of Ben Redman of Eau Claire Memorial/North.
He did not win the event at the Homestead sectional Feb. 11, as he finished in 46.75 seconds to come in 0.11 seconds behind Lucas Farrar of Arrowhead, who ended up tied for fifth at state.
"It definitely served as some motivation in the form of a wake-up call," Larson said of taking second at sectionals. "In years past, I have always been a pretty big underdog, and nobody expected me to win, and junior year, I was going up against the defending state champion. Years before that I had worse odds. But after winning junior year, I was the guy to beat.
"Losing at sectionals was a good reminder that there are a lot of guys that want it just as bad as I do and that I needed to continue to fight really hard for it."
Larson, who will swim collegiately at the University of Pacific, won the 200 freestyle in 1 minute, 38.95 seconds, easily beating Horton by 1.83 seconds. He took second in the event at state a year ago in 1:40.87, as Eau Claire Memorial's Paul DeLakis won with a state-record of 1:36.10.
"In the 200, I was with everybody else pretty late in the race still," Larson said. "It wasn't until the last 50 where I made my move and broke off. It was even later than that in the 100. Once it gets down to the nitty-gritty and there isn't a whole lot of time, I just put my head down and hoped for the best."
Each of the state-championship swims brought out different emotions in Larson.
"The 200 was pretty emotional for me," Larson said. "Year after year after year, I would look up and have thought I had won that race and didn't. Getting second all those years in a row takes a toll on you. To finally win that one was pretty emotional. That coupled with the fact that I had my teammate (Cal Hartt) medal a couple lanes away and me finally winning with a pretty stellar time, that was a pretty cool moment.
"The 100 free was kind of different. There was that pressure of people expecting you to defend your state championship. It was about not messing up and doing what I could do. Seeing I won that race was more of a relief than an overwhelming joy."
Senior Cal Hartt took sixth in the 200 freestyle in 1:42.47 and 16th in the 100 butterfly in 52.63 seconds. Junior Caleb Vollmers placed 20th in the 500 freestyle in 4:56.56.
Wauwatosa came in ninth in the 400 freestyle relay with Larson, Hartt, junior Nick Thuli and Vollmers posting a time of 3:14.03. The same relay team took 20th in the 200 freestyle relay in 1:29.71.