LA CROSSE -- Johnson Creek junior Hannah Constable won her first two state titles in the Division 3 girls 800 meter run by sitting back and outkicking her opponents to the finish line.
Opponents haven't figured out a way to stop it just yet.
Fennimore sophomore Brynlee Nelson, whom Constable outdueled down the stretch to win last year's final, got out of the gates hot in Friday's final, hoping to put enough of a gap between herself and Constable to reach the finish first.
Constable found herself trailing by 10 meters in the early stages, but Nelson's lead began to slip heading into the second lap and Constable made the rest seem inevitable, winning her third state title in a personal best and school record time of 2 minutes, 14.84 seconds.
Nelson faded to third over the final meters as Benton Co-Op freshman Kayci Martensen passed and came perilously close to catching Constable before taking second in 2:15.07. Nelson was next in 2:15.54.
"This race is always the race where I can't get excited until after I finish it, because it's the one that is mentally hard, I guess," Constable said.
"Last year, I passed her with 200 left and I had to hold her off there. This year was different because I had to chase her down. It's just something I enjoy doing more, but it was different than last year."
Constable's mother, Johnson Creek head coach Paula Constable, pressed her daughter to improve the early portion of her race during the season and it paid off here.
"This is definitely the race that she's been thinking about mostly," Paula Constable said. "Coming in, she knew it was going to be good competition, all of them. She was really looking forward to running with competition to push her. Her race strategy is to typically sit and kick, and she did it again. She's been working all season on going out harder in the first part of the race. She was doing it all season, so I am real proud of her that she was able to do it mentally.
She knew that was a possibility (that Nelson) might do that (move to get out early)."
Hannah Constable didn't crack under the early pressure, thanks to the hard work preparing to get out faster herself at the start of races.
"I would say she did go out pretty fast, the first 200, more than I am used to," Hannah Constable said. "Not that I had a lot of competition earlier on, but it was different. I knew that going out hard my first 400 was really important because last year, I got stuck when I got far back and I didn't want that to happen again."
Constable gained a ton of confidence competing against Division 1 runners at the Myrhum Invitational in early May, where she won the 800 in 2:15.89.
"That was really good for me to do mentally, to be able to tell myself I could really do it and coming in here," Hannah Constable said. "My seed time was five seconds slower, but to run fast I need competition. I just knew I had to stick with them and do what I always do at the end. For me, the 100 today was when I started going, so not as early (feeling like I had it) as I am used to but the weather didn't make it any easier."
Constable will battle Nelson again today for the 400 title. Constable won the first trial race in 58.81. Nelson won the other in 58.53 to earn the top seed going into today's final.
"The 400 was good," Hannah Constable said. "I didn't really feel very good after that one. The 400 is always really draining for me, but I feel like I got into a good spot (for the finals)."
She also teamed with seniors Taylor Hallam and Kittana Kulig and junior Mateah Roehl to qualify for the finals in the 1,600 relay with a ninth place time of 4:14.30.