LA CROSSE — At the end of a jampacked day in the sweltering heat, Cashton senior Braylee Hyatt had one final event left in her high school athletics career. One last chance to claim a gold medal on the state track stage with which she became so familiar. With however much Hyatt had left in the tank, she dug deep and made her first-place dream a reality.
Hyatt gave her Cashton career the ultimate curtain call by placing first in the Division 3 girls' 200-meter dash with a winning time of 25.44 seconds — a mere five hundredths of a second ahead of Wisconsin Rapids Assumption freshman Bella Thomas in second.
The 200-meter dash was the final of four events that Hyatt competed in at the 2023 WIAA State Track and Field Championships held Friday, June 2 and Saturday, June 3 at Veterans Memorial Stadium on the campus of the University of Wisconsin–La Crosse.
In a pair of preliminary races on Friday, Hyatt matched her seeding positions coming in by finishing in first in the 200-meter dash (25.75) and second in the 100-meter dash (12.66) to advance to Saturday's finals.
On top of that, she was part of a relay team with sophomore Makayla Gooselaw, freshman Gabby Hyatt and sophomore Adrianna Biever that posted a time of 1 minute, 46.95 seconds to finish fifth in the prelims of the 800-meter relay and secure their spot in the finals.
That all set the stage for a busy Saturday where Hyatt would compete in four events.
Everything went fairly well for Hyatt through her first three events as she found her way onto the medalist podium in each one. She placed second in the 100-meter dash with a time of 12.50 seconds, behind only Assumption's Bella Thomas (12.39) in first.
Hyatt notched a sixth-place showing in the long jump with a top leap of 17 feet, 3.25 inches and her 800-meter relay team placed fifth with a time of 1 minute, 46.59 seconds that broke the school record in the event.
All was going to plan heading into the 200-meter dash, where she came into the weekend seeded first and backed that up in Friday's prelims. It certainly was no guarantee Hyatt would post her best effort, especially on a sun-splashed day where the temperature hit 90 and she'd been in three events already.
But with only one more race to run as a Cashton Eagle, Hyatt gave it all she had and posted a personal best that none of her nine competitors could match.
"I don't even know how to describe it. It's so many emotions. My last race — it feels so good to be on the top of that podium. It's just amazing. All the hard work has paid off," Hyatt said after getting her gold medal Saturday. "I kept telling myself 'it's my last one. I have to do this.' I wanted to leave everything on the track. No regrets. I fought."
On a weekend as hot and sunny as it was in La Crosse for this year's state meet, it's more imperative than ever to do all the right things to keep yourself prepared physically and mentally for the task ahead. Hyatt took that to heart — kicking her legs up whenever she was able, staying out of the sun when possible, frequently hydrating, eating right and getting good sleep.
"She really did a nice job getting off her legs when she could. She drank plenty of water, stayed hydrated and did all the things she needed to do," said Cashton head coach Beth Lee. "I was a little worried coming into this last event wondering how everything else that had happened today would affect her, but she did well."
Hyatt is the sort of athlete that Cashton athletics won't soon forget, and a storybook ending in La Crosse only adds to that legacy. It also provided a bit of a familial bookend for the Hyatts. Early in her career, Braylee was part of an 800-meter relay team alongside Jaiden Hansbery, Annie Schreier and older sister Adelynn that set the school record in the event — a record now broken by Braylee, Gooselaw, Biever and Braylee's younger sister Gabby.
In her first two state appearances, Hyatt competed in four total events and earned one medal. With her four events at state as a senior, she quintupled her career medal total and, in her very last opportunity, permanently etched her name into the record books as a state champion.
"It's such a sweet way to end," Hyatt said. "My sister (Gabby) was on the 4x200 with me, and we broke our school record, which I had with my other sister (Adelynn) a couple years ago. It's just amazing."
No comments on this item Please log in to comment by clicking here