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Walker running

Screenshot from a video produced by IJReview about Scott Walker's pre-debate ritual of going for a run.

A politician can't run from his record, but apparently he can run with a record of running.

In the lead-up to and during his bid for the Republican presidential nomination, Gov. Scott Walker occasionally has brought up running, which he said he does to clear his head before a debate.

He's also mentioned his time on the Delavan-Darien High School track team, saying he was "good in the half-mile and quarter-mile."

How good was he? Looking through the high school sports results of mid-1980s editions of The Janesville Gazette helped find out.

In short, Walker won multiple conference championships as a part of the Delavan-Darien 1,600-meter relay team and held his own in the 800 meters.

As a junior in the spring of 1985, he helped the Comets' 1,600 relay win at the Southern Lakes Conference meet, where he also placed fifth as an individual in the 400 meters in 52.9 seconds.

Walker was back on the 1,600 relay team as a senior in 1986, and the group that also included Dave Butke, John Smith and Mike Bauer won at the Beloit News Invitational, the Southern Lakes West meet, the Borg Invitational (that one actually was a mile relay), the Southern Lakes Conference meet (for which they were mentioned in a Gazette story) and the Class A Janesville Sectional.

The latter gave the Delavan-Darien relay a spot at the state meet, which in those days was held at Mansfield Stadium in Madison. That year, Stevens Point's Suzy Favor capped off a dominating high school career with her 11th state championship, and the Comets' relay finished fifth in the final.

(One note: The members of the Delavan-Darien 1,600 relay team weren't listed in the results of the sectional or state meets — and the WIAA doesn't keep records of runners in relays beyond the winning team — so we weren't able to conclusively say Walker was one of the runners in those races. But it appears he was on the relay all season leading up to that point.)

Walker didn't have as much success in individual races as a senior, but he did win the 800 meters in 2:01.59 at the Class A Mukwonago Regional. Needing a top-two finish at the sectional in Janesville to make it to state as an individual, Walker finished sixth in 2:05.02.

He also finished second in the 660 yards at Delavan-Darien's Borg Invitational, crossing the line in 1:27.3.

Walker has said on the campaign trail that he used to win track races by trailing the lead runner until they neared the end, when he'd unleash a strong finishing kick.

The fine print in nearly-30-year-old newspapers doesn't provide the kind of detail to fact-check that. Efforts to reach Walker's former track coach and teammates were unsuccessful.

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Todd D. Milewski covers Wisconsin Badgers men's hockey and the UW Athletic Department for the Wisconsin State Journal.

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