After winning both the 800 and 1,600 meters for the fourth time each on June 2 in the WIAA State Meet in La Crosse, Whitefish Bay track star unparalleled Camille Davre waited for just about everyone to leave the press pit before she turned her head and said softly:
“I think I need a little cry.”
It was just that kind of weekend for Davre: emotional and pragmatic, accomplished but very, very human.
The next day, after she had that cry, she went out and before many, many family members and in front of a crowd that numbered well over 7,000, she went out and won a physical and grueling 3,200 meters.
It was the capstone of her magnificent career, giving her a career sweep of all the distance disciplines including four titles each in the 800 (in which she holds the state record), four in the 1,600, another in the 4×800 relay (in the Blue Dukes’ state team title year of 2015) and now the 3,200.
It was also the historic 10th title of her career, making her only the fifth athlete in girls track history to do so.
Davre wanted to take in every second.
“I was just thinking that these were my last laps in my high school career,” she said. “I just wanted to make them count. I counted each one as I got closer and closer to the finish.
“I just wanted to soak it in. I was really happy that this race (the 3,200) was my last race, the longest race.
‘”It gave me time.”
Because she had a lot to think about, a lot to be grateful for.
She thought about her support system, her Olympic speedskating parents who gave her her talent and helped foster it, and her grandparents who trundled her to high-level races throughout the country in her middle school years.
Then there were her coaches and the Milwaukee Mustangs Track Club, all of whom helped her hone that talent. There were also her teammates past and present who seemed to be running with her every step of the way.
And then there were the very worthy competitors, whom she has been dispatching with grace, will, respect and pure talent for the last four years.
As she had in the 800 (2:12.07) and 1,600 (4:56.76), Davre ran tactically in the 3,200 and let others do the heavy lifting for about three-quarters of the race. She then used her superior speed in the final moments and cruised to the finish line in 10:53.67, two seconds ahead of Janesville Craig junior Peyton Sippy.
It was her final race at what she called “her favorite place to run.”
She congratulated various runners afterward and then moments later, smiled and waved to the UW-La Crosse crowd for the last time on this warm and windy day from the awards stand on the infield.
Before entering the press pit, she and Sippy happily exchanged phone numbers.
There she eventually spoke of all that gratitude and of the respect and effort that she learned was needed to be a success in this often difficult, sometimes tedious but always beautifully pure sport.
“I just don’t know many people who have had the support that I’ve had the last four years,” she said. “I’ve been so lucky. I’m just so grateful.”
Davre chose running over soccer at the end of her freshman year. She had been playing soccer at a high level since she was a small child and the decision was not easy.
But as her cross country (in which she was state runner-up twice) and track event coach Mike Miller said: “She’s good at soccer, but she’s a great runner.”
Davre eventually graduated from freshman phenom defeating talented elders in spectacular fashion (find a video of her freshman year 1,600 victory over an obscenely talented field at the Benson Invitational in Wauwatosa for proof) to respected elder, winning races with elegance, speed and sublime grace.
She even earned a WIAA Scholar/Athlete Award this spring for good measure.
Not surprisingly, she has also developed fans outside of the distance fraternity.
After her June 2 success in the 800 and 1,600 races, fellow North Shore stars David Dunlap and Dakari Williams of Nicolet came up to enthusiastically congratulate her, sharing a bond that only real champions, it seems, can understand.
Williams and Dunlap would go on to be the final two legs of the Knights’ state championship 4×100 relay on Saturday, June 3. Later that day, Dunlap would also defend his 200 dash crown.
Davre has happily gotten used to such moments.
“Some people now say they look up to me,” she said. “This has all blended into one great moment where I’m saying good-bye to all these great experiences.”
Along with some great people.
Mom Angela Davre found her first in the press pit. Then she later found her coaches. Long hugs and pictures filled with broad, genuine smiles followed.
The final moments of a career filled with potential, potential that was fulfilled.
Miller, who was one of those grabbing those long hugs, is melancholy but knows his memory now has an indelible imprint of what true greatness looks like.
“The realization that she was finishing up these last few weeks sunk in hard,” he said. “That we won’t have her around for much longer anymore. We’ve all enjoyed the ride and I hope we’ve all learned a lot.
“I’ve really come to admire her because she’s become such a good example for the sport and the program. She’s imparted a certain work ethic, shown how to be a good teammate and really led by example.”
Davre said she couldn’t do it any other way.
“I knew it would all be over soon,”she said. “It just didn’t feel like it until now.”
“I just felt I owed it all to my coaches and teammates to do my best.”
Now some high-level post-state meet races may follow, including possibly the coveted Wisco Mile. Graduation will come shortly too.
Then she will prepare for her college career at Michigan, where she will start over, gain new experiences, work with new coaches, make more friends and have more great races with more great competitors.
She will likely red-shirt the fall cross country season, humbly taking her place behind her upperclass teammates and then she’ll find a way to succeed as she’s always done.
“I’m looking forward to finding people to look up to in college,” she said. “There’s just so much ahead of me.”
Carrying along with her a vast trove of memories, including races won, jaws dropped, people impressed, friends made, and potential fulfilled.
“I’ve gotten so emotional these last few weeks,” she said. “All the good memories of my teammates and coaches. This has all been such a good experience.
“It’s so special. I feel it in my heart.”