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Area tracksters gearing up for Class A state meet

STATELY QUALIFIERS — Members of the Fairmont track & field teams qualifying for the Class A state meet on Thursday and Friday at St. Michael-Albertville High School include, front row (l-r): Laura Thompson, Ellie Schultze, Brooklyn Meyer, Karalyn Closs, Ellie Hernes, Carissa Saxton, Sabrina Segar and Hannah Linse. Back row: Elijah Johnson, Isaiah Lockwood, Kainen Craig, Hudson Artz, Trey Tumbleson, Hank Artz, David Maakestad and James Johnson. (Photo by Greg Abel)

ST. MICHAEL — Six area individuals and three relay teams are set for the Class A state track & field meet at St. Michael-Albertville High School.

Two individuals will hit the track for Thursday’s 3,200-meter races, while the rest will step into the starting blocks on Friday.

Fairmont’s Laura Thompson and Martin County West’s Katie Hartke will be the first area competitors to hit the track when they compete in Thursday’s two-mile race. Both Class A and AA will run the 3,200 Thursday, with the races set for 7 p.m. They were originally scheduled to begin at 4 p.m., but a high-predicted temperature prompted the adjustment.

“She’s a much better runner now than she was two years ago,” Fairmont head coach Bob Bonk said of Thompson, who is competing in her second state meet after running the 3,200, where she medaled with an eighth-place finish, and as a member of the 4×800-meter relay in 2019. “But she doesn’t have the best times in the state going in and there are some girls that have quite a few seconds on her. … It’ll also be nice that she only has one race each day, that’s totally different for her.”

Thompson enters the 3,200 with the second-best time of 11:17.67, behind only Murray County Central’s Amanda Overgaauw at 11:00.45.

Hartke is competing in her first state meet and enters with the fifth-best time of 11:46.25.

“I think the fact that Katie had the opportunity to participate in state cross county, this will be similar for her except, it’ll be flat instead of having hills and terrain,” MCW assistant coach Stannetta Svoboda said. “She’s a real competitor and I think she’ll be ready for this.

“She ran a really smart (section) race, and we just kind of kept telling her with the heat and everything, she had to run really smart. She was fantastic, she made her move at the right time and it was a personal-best time for her.”

Thompson also will compete in Friday’s 1,600-meter run, where she enters with the second-best time of 5:07.66, behind only Heron Lake-Okabena/Fulda’s Morgan Gehl. Gehl enters with a time of 4:58.74.

Thompson’s one-mile competition is set to start at 4:40 p.m. Friday.

Fairmont’s Hudson Artz will be the first area competitor stepping into the starting blocks Friday when he runs the 100-meter dash at 10:42 a.m. Artz enters the state meet after taking part in the Cardinals’ 4×400-meter champion relay team in 2019.

Artz will run in Lane 3 of the first heat of the 100.

“He’s hardly lost this year,” Bonk said. “I thought he had an exceptional section meet with the three firsts, but there are guys with faster times than him in all three events. … He started his career more as a 400 (meters) or even an 800 guy, but he’s gotten bigger and faster now and it’s hard to know what his best event is. My hunch is the 400.”

Artz will then take an hour break before running in the 400-meter dash at 11:44. Artz will stay close to the field, running in Lane 1 of the second heat after entering with the seventh-best time of 50.62.

Artz will finish his stately performance with the 200-meter dash at 12:25 p.m. Artz will run in Lane 9 of the second heat after running a time of 22.97 at the section.

Right after Artz runs the 100, the Cardinals’ 4×200-meter relay team of James Johnson, Trey Tumbleson, Kainen Craig and David Maakestad will run in Lane 8 of the first heat at 11:03 a.m.

The Cardinals’ Hank Artz will be the lone competitor in the boys’ field events Friday, throwing eighth in the shot put after heaving it 48-10.75 at the section meet.

“He’s not only going to state as an eighth-grader, but going in an event you don’t associate with eighth-graders,” Bonk said. “Almost all the guys he’ll be competing against are seniors and juniors and yet he doesn’t mind, he just does it.”

Blue Earth Area’s 4×100-meter relay team of Riley Anderson, Austin Thielfoldt, Jacob Olson and Jack Norman will hit the track at 11:34 a.m., when they will run in the second lane of the first heat after running a time of 45.49 at the section meet.

“Our leadoff guy, Riley Anderson, has been a track guy for all of his time here and he’s just developed into a really fine sprinter,” BEA head coach Tom Plocker said. “Austin Thielfoldt, our number two guy, he’s been out for track since he was an eighth-grader and of course missed last year. … He also had a very good long jump season this year and was a contender for state. …

“Jacob Olson, our number three guy, this is his first year out for track, a rookie senior, though he wanted to come out last year, it’s tough as a rookie to step in there, but he’s really done a nice job for us in the sprints, relays and high jump and that will be nice to be able to close out his career like this. And then our anchor guy is Jack Norman, who is an exceptional athlete and he’s done whatever we’ve asked of him this year from the 400 to the 100.”

Ellie Hernes will be the busiest Cardinal at Friday’s meet, competing in four events. She enters with state experience, placing seventh in the triple jump in 2019.

Hernes will need to hustle between events with slightly less time than she usually has at meets because of the state meet’s split setup with all boys events in the morning and all girls events in the afternoon.

Hernes will start at 3:30 p.m. at the long jump pit, where she enters with the 14th-best distance of 16-8, then she will go straight to the high hurdles for a 3:52 p.m. start. Hernes will take off from Lane 8 in the second heat after coming in with the seventh-best time of 16.05.

“Ellie is as steady as they come,” Bonk said. “She’s always excellent. I have every reason to believe she’ll be excellent again. … Her best event over her career has been the triple jump and I would say that’s the one that she probably has the best chance to do especially well in.

“You don’t have the boys events that come in between girls’ events, so she doesn’t have as much rest time as normal, and that could be a bit of a factor, but I’m sure she will handle it very competently as she always does.”

Hernes then will have an hour break before starting the triple jump at 5 p.m. She enters with the third-best qualifying leap of 37-3.25, behind only Spectrum’s Elianna Aberra (37-3.75) and Maple Lake’s Maggie Larson (38-0.75).

Hernes then finishes her day in the 300-meter hurdles at 5:12 p.m., running in Lane 7 of the first heat.

The 4×100-meter relay team of Karalyn Closs, Brooklyn Meyer, Ellie Schultze and Sabrina Segar will be the lone other Cardinals on the track Friday, running in Lane 1 of the first heat at 4:50 p.m. after entering with a qualifying time of 52.79.

“I’m so thankful they both made it,” Bonk said of his relay teams. “It’s always fun to have a relay or more, it just seems like more of a team event that way. … I think a great accomplishment for either or both would be to get a medal. … The girls is a fairly old group, quite a few seniors in that bunch. The boys is a much younger group.

“For the girls, it would be a great way to end their high school careers, but for the boys, it could be a chance to get a great experience and give them a slingshot into next year.”

MCW’s Makena Larson will take to the throwing pits for the third time in her high school career at 3:30 p.m. Friday.

Larson enters with the third best throw of 39-4.75 behind only Monica Johnson of Northome/Kelliher at 41-2.25 and Windom Area’s Delaney Smith, who enters with a throw of 44-5.

“Makena is sitting in a really good spot,” Svoboda said. “She’s in the top three, she’s been there before so she knows the routine, even though it’s not the same location. She will do very well.

“She’s been very consitent with throwing and her sister Madison is the one who coaches her with that. I think that family tradition there, that’s something that’s going to help her.

“The fact that she didn’t have last season, I think that really motivated her and she has worked so hard. She’s in the weight room, she’s out running, she’s doing all the right things. … I think she’s very proud to make it back in the shot put.”

Boys events start at 10 a.m. Friday and will run through the 4×400-meter relay at 12:50 p.m.

Bonk said the facilities at St. Michael-Albertville High School will likely be cleared before the girls events start at 3:30 p.m. and run through the final event starting at 6:05 p.m.

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