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Klein climbs her way back to medal
Times photo: Mark Nesbitt Brodhead-Juda junior Shannon Klein overcame hip surgery in the fall to take fifth in the 400-meter dash at the WIAA Division 2 Track and Field Championships Saturday.
LA CROSSE - Brodhead-Juda junior Shannon Klein didn't know that being a runner could be so painful and exhilarating.

Klein had surgery on her hip that wiped out most of her cross country season, but she closed out a stellar track season by finishing fifth in the 400-meter dash (:57.54) at the WIAA Division 2 State Track and Field Championships Saturday. Klein, who owns the Brodhead-Juda school record in the 400, cherished the opportunity to run at state.

"Medals don't go away unless you lose it and I won't lose it," Klein said. "It's definitely a keepsake for sure.

"It's not the place I was seeded," Klein said. "I took some time off. I wanted to break 58 seconds. I don't know if I could go faster than 57 seconds right now."

Monroe's 400-meter relay team of senior Ty Gibson, sophomore Maria Eberle, senior Jess Miller and junior Jaclyn Ditter finished eighth with a time of 50.81 seconds. The quartet ran their season best time in the preliminaries to get to the finals Saturday. Ditter added a ninth-place finish in the 100 high hurdles (:15.95).

"I was really surprised with how fast they were able to run in the trials," Monroe coach Curt Miller said. "They ran their best two races of the year. They ran a smoking time. It just so happens the finals time was faster than the finals."

Gibson and Miller closed out their prep track careers running on the biggest stage.

"I feel like we ran really well," Gibson said. "I couldn't be more proud of the team. We PR'd.

Jess Miller said just getting to the state meet after running the 400 relay together all year was awesome.

"It feels really good," she said. "This is our last meet together. To go out like this is nice."

Gibson's most unforgettable moments on the track include running on the 400 relay team.

"One thing I will always remember is winning conference, regional and sectionals as a relay," Gibson said. "I will never forget that."

Ditter missed medaling in the 100 hurdles by 0.29 of a second and the Cheesemakers' 400 relay team was 0.45 of a second away from earning a spot on the medal stand. Brodhead-Juda sophomore Heather Clankie took ninth in the discus (122-1) and was about two feet from a medal.

"Both the hurdles and 400 relay, the margin for error is so small," Curt Miller said. "One small misstep in a race or a bump of a hurdle can throw the whole time off."

Ditter made strides in the hurdles and opened some eyes in the hurdles.

"There are a lot of people who don't realize even though she is a junior, this is really her first year running the hurdles," Curt Miller said. "For what she has been able to do in the hurdles making it to the finals at state and breaking the school record is just awesome and will be a stepping stone for her next year."

Ditter wasn't satisfied with her performance in the hurdles.

"I thought I would run a little better," she said. "I want to get on the medal box (stand) next year. I want to get at least sixth place next year."