ST. PAUL - The first day of the Minnesota State High School League Class 'A' state track and field meet featured 16 area entries competing Friday, with 13 qualifiers advancing to the finals at Klas Stadium at Hamline University in St. Paul.
Fairmont's MaKenzie Bliesmer was the lone medalist on Friday, claiming ninth place in the high jump by going 5 feet even.
"I don't think it really hit me that I was jumping in the state meet until I got here. So I was nervous and jumped a little tight," said Bliesmer.
STATE MEDALIST — Fairmont’s MaKenzie Bliesmer arches her back to clear the high jump bar during Friday’s Class A state track and field meet at Klas Stadium on the Hamline University campus in St. Paul. Bliesmer went on to clear 5 feet even to earn a ninth-place state medal. (Photo by Leanna Becker)
STATE TRACK ACTION — Fairmont’s Justin Barnes motors around a corner during the Class A boys state 4x400-meter relay race on Friday at Hamline University in St. Paul. Barnes and the rest of the Cardinals’ 4x400 relay team went on to qualify for today’s finals back at Klas Stadium. (Photo by Leanna Becker)
Cardinal sophomore Sierra Schultz raced to a personal-best and Fairmont's third-best all-time in the 100-meter hurdles to advance to today's finals.
Schultz finished fifth overall with her time of 15.76 seconds.
The Fairmont boys 4x400 relay team of Payton Schlomann, Evan Ward, Justin Barnes and Mark Fruechte also ran a personal-best time of 3:25.37 to qualify for finals, making them fourth-best all-time in school history.
"I thought that (Friday) was a great day. Sierra ran a really smooth and strong race, MaKenzie jumped great, Mark ran a personal-best time in the 400 and our relay was outstanding," said Fairmont head coach Bob Bonk.
Madelia/Truman/Granada-Huntley-East Chain/Martin Luther's 4x400 team of DaMarko Thomas, Jon Whitney, Cade Ekstrom and Adam Cooling also reached today's finals with a time of 3:24.78.
"I thought that overall the guys ran well (Friday). There are some things I think we can work on for (today's) race, but we cut a seconds off our section time and overall I think it went well," said Jayhawk head coach Pete Goeringer. "I think the fact that they'll have the 4x800 will help, too, to get a race in before the 4x400."
Fruechte just missed making the open 400 finals, racing in at 50.69 for 10th overall.
Blue Earth Area senior Nick Beattie went 3-for-3 by making the finals in his events. Beattie finished fourth in the open 100 by posting a time of 11.05 to earn a spot in today's finals, before motoring to a qualifying time of 22.78 in the 200.
"You know anytime you can get any athletes into the Saturday part of the meet, that's great," said Plocker. "And for Nick, he qualified in both of his individual races and ran our 4x200 relay to a new school record."
Beattie then finished the trio of preliminary finishes with a comeback finish in the 4x200. Taylor Olson, Alberto Ocampo, Bailey Olson and Beattie surged by the field for a qualifying time of 1:31.01.
Steven Plocker threw for a 10th-place finish in the shot put for the Bucs. Plocker, who just missed making finals after a three-way tie for ninth, threw for 48-11.
The Bucs' girls 4x400 relay continued its dominance, with Taylor Grandgenett, Anne Franta, Karli Olson and Krista Hassing racing to a first-place time of 4:00.52 tor reach today's final.
"For these girls, they've been at the big meets, state last year, the Hamline Elite Meets. They know what it's like to run in a big meet-type situation. I'm confident that (today) they'll come out and it'll be a great race," said Tom Plocker.
Grandgenett, who also came into the state meet with the fastest 300-meter hurdle time, continued that role by winning the preliminaries with a time of 45.40.
Franta, Paige Darrington, Miranda Johnson and Skylee Bell raced for a qualifying time in the 4x100 relay for the Bucs, coming in at 51.05 seconds.
Hassing fell short of making the finals in the open 800, crossing the line with a time of 2:21.56.
Martin County West's Morgan Larson made one last kick to reach the finals in the 800.
Larson, who came in with a qualifying time of 2:20.78, cut nearly two seconds off of her time, 2:18.80, to reach finals.
Haley Jensen started the Mavericks' qualifying day with a second-place finish of 12.53 in the open 100.
The Maverick relay team of Hailey Holtz, Jensen, Taryn Tumbleson and Libbie Lange then added its third qualifying event with a time of 51.11 in the 4x100 relay.
"We kind of just were going one person, one group, one event at a time and seeing who was making it," said Martin County West head coach Curtis Smith. "And now with everybody advancing, that just makes it even better for the girls."
The Jayhawks' Josh Johanson and Fairmont's Sierra Schultz will compete in their field events today, with Johanson taking to the high jump, while Schultz moves to the triple jump.
The Class 'A' state track and field championships are set to start at 3:30 p.m. today at Klas Stadium at Hamline University in St. Paul.