Fans at Memorial Stadium in La Crosse surely knew something was up as the results from the 100-meter dash unfolded on the giant video board June 4 at the WIAA state track meet. Listed 10th and last was one of the best sprinters in the state — Wauwatosa West's Cheri'A Adams — whose time was uncharacteristically off the pace.
When she hobbled across the track with a bag of ice attached to her ankle, it was confirmed. Adams, who was also scheduled to anchor the 4x100 and 4x200 relays, had sprained an ankle, an ailment dating back to the day before when she competed in the triple jump.
'I was just relaxing in the hotel, and something didn't feel right, so I went to the trainer,' Adams said. 'They told me that they didn't want me to run, but I still wanted to run.'
And so she did. She was back at it in the 4x100-meter relay, and she must have been telling the truth when she said it hurt more when she walked than when she ran. She crossed the line and immediately started to limp again, but she had just helped Tosa West repeat as state champion.
Teaming with Azya McLin and Mercy Ndon, as well as alternate Breanna Weigman, the Trojans crossed the finish line in 47.91 seconds, 0.08 of a second ahead of Waukesha South for gold.
'I feel like a lot of pressure is off,' Adams said. '(Repeating) feels great. I was fortunate that the team was able to do a lot of the work, and that helped me finish it off. I'm just really happy for the team. We were able to PR (in the 4x100) this year, which is great.'
Weigman stepped in for Brianna Horton, who was running in the 300-meter hurdles one event after the 4x1. Last year, Horton teamed with Ndon, McLin and Adams to win the 4x100 in 48.39, Tosa West's first girls track championship since 2003. As Ndon and McLin helped Adams gingerly navigate across the track following the podium ceremony, they all turned and cheered Horton to 10th place in the 300 hurdles final (47.76).
'This feels really good,' said McLin, who also grabbed third place in the 100 dash (12.54). 'We were the top seed, but we had an alternate fill-in (Weigman), and she did a great job.'
Coach Jack LoPresti added, 'The 4x100 relay team defended the 2015 state title with a remarkable 2016 performance. This group was determined to hold on to that 4x100 title, and they raced like they wanted it. A tough group to beat in that 4x100.'
Without Adams and substituting alternate Kayla Crump, Tosa West still had a great showing in the 4x200, running 1:43.03 for fourth place. McLin, Horton and Ndon were on board as well.
LoPresti talked about McLin, one of his graduating seniors.
'Azya McLin had a great meet,' he said. 'The senior showed great leadership and raced how you expect your superstars to race at state. She was confident, tough and determined — that's how you are suppose to race at state. Azya came to state to have her best meet of the year. and she did that.
'We will miss Azya's presence. For the last four years, she has been the face of our team.'
He also highlighted Horton's versaility.
'Bri is so hardworking, so coachable and so determined,' LoPresti said. 'She has been a state champion in the 4x100, placed at state in the 4x200 and has been a state qualifier in the 300 low hurdles. She also shattered the school record this spring in the 300 low hurdles. She is just an awesome person, and we will miss her greatly.'
Weigman added 10th in the high jump (5 feet, 2 inches), just outside the scoring, and Adams finished eighth in the triple jump (36-111/2). Crump added 14th in the 300 hurdles (46.86).
'Breanna Wegman had a great season,' LoPresti said. 'One of our most improved sectional champs in the 200-meter dash, qualifying for state in the 200 dash, high jump and a member of the winning 4x100 relay team.
'Breanna is such a tough competitior, and she will be a big part of our team the next two years. She was a huge part of our team this year, so we can't wait to see what the future holds for her.
'Kayla Crump played a huge role in our state success this year — running a leg on the 4x200 at state in the preliminary and qualifying in the 300 low hurdles. Kayla has been a huge part of our success the last two years, and like Breanna Wegman, she will take on a much bigger role.'
LoPresti had special praise for Ndon, who ran excellent legs on both relays.
'Four excellent races by Mercy Ndon,' he said. 'Mercy is so funny and has been so great for our team. Mercy has this great personality and sense of humor. She will do very well at UW-Milwaukee on their track team. We will miss her greatly.'
In the team scoring, Tosa West scored 22 points and finished in 12th place.