John Masanz still remember getting the phone call from a friend of his about six years ago.
“I was told that I had to get to the middle school to watch this girl run, and she was a sixth-grader,” the Wausau West High School track and field coach recalled. “He said she ran a 400(-meter dash) in 58 seconds.
“I thought there must be something wrong with the timing because it wasn’t very believable. I had to see it with my own eyes, and soon I did.”
Brooke Jaworski has done a lot of things that may be considered unbelievable in track and field. More unbelievable than running a 58-second 400 as a sixth-grader or breaking the state record in the event with a 53.71 as a freshman or winning 10 medals — seven of them gold — at her first three WIAA state track and field meets.
Did you know that her time of 57.57 seconds in the 400-meter hurdles last summer was, for a time, the fastest in the world among U18 runners? Not the state, not the country, but the world.
She ran that race in Finland, by the way, as part of the U20 USA track and field team.
“I am never surprised by something she does because she is that good,” Masanz said. “But that time was the fastest in the world (U18). It’s amazing.”
None of it has happened by accident, either. Jaworski takes track and field seriously and always has. Things just intensified after a breakout performance during her first appearance at the Veterans Memorial Field Sports Complex.
“It kickstarted things,” Jaworski said when looking back to winning performances in the Division 1 200, 400 and 1,600 relay in 2016. “The statewide competition was very good, and I think that (weekend) started the explosion that put me where I am today.”
There is more to this story, both past and future, but let’s spend a moment at the present.
Jaworski will run the 100 hurdles, 300 hurdles, 400 and long jump Friday and Saturday with the specific goal of increasing her collection of gold medals. She owns the top performance in the state in the 300 hurdles (41.4 seconds) and 400 (54.5), and she isn’t far off the pace in the 100 hurdles (14.23) or long jump (18 feet, 7 inches).
Jaworski also happens to have reputation of coming up big in big events, so she has that going for her in an attempt to make this state meet her biggest.
But back to Finland and the international experience in the sport she loves. Jaworski qualified for the meet at a USA track and field meet in Indiana, earning a spot on the U20 team.
“It was the gutsiest race I ever ran,” Jaworski said of the qualifier. “It was the second 400 hurdle race I had ever run, and I finished second.
“If I hadn’t run that race the way I did, I wouldn’t have the opportunities that I am getting today.”
Succeeding against top high school and college runners in those meets just kept Jaworski’s momentum going. She placed seventh in Finland and drew attention from some of the top collegiate programs in the country. She chose the University of Texas as her future home.
“I think getting to that qualifier and doing what she did really showed how hard she has worked for this,” Masanz said. “She was in high school and running for a spot on the U20 team while running the event for the second time.
“You can’t get to where she is without doing the work, and she has never been one to avoid that or try to get out of workouts.”
Those workouts have taken place before school and after and without breaks between seasons. Jaworski is also a four-time state qualifier in cross country, which really shows her range as a runner.
She placed 51st as a freshman, but has been in the top 15 in Division 1 the last three years — a 10th-place finish as a junior is her best — to show that she also has ability on distance races.
But despite all of that, the daughter of Jim and Cheryl Jaworski has made an even bigger impression on Masanz.
When asked what makes her such a special performer, it takes quite some time to get to anything about the way she trains or runs or competes.
Masanz talks about Jaworski addressing freshmen on the team by name or being the last one on the bus after a meet because she was picking up garbage that was left behind.
“Honest to God, that’s the truth,” Masanz said of the two stories. “She cares about everyone who is around her and is someone who is a really good person with a good heart.
“I’m going to miss watching her run, and I won’t be able to see her do that after this weekend until I go down to Texas, but I know we will really miss having her around the team.”