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Area athletes earn 6 medals at state track & field meet

STATELY EFFORT — Fairmont’s Ellie Hernes elevates before soaring to an 11th-place mark in the long jump during Friday’s Class A state track & field meet at St. Michael-Albertville High School in St. Michael. (Photo by Kyle McAreavy)

ST. MICHAEL — Fairmont’s big three track & field standouts ended their dominant season in style.

Hudson Artz, Ellie Hernes and Laura Thompson have collectively won nearly every event they participated in throughout the spring of 2021, helping propel the Cardinals to another highly-successful season.

Friday, Artz, Hernes and Thompson walked away from the St. Michael-Albertville track & field facility with a combined six state medals. Each took home two, with Thompson’s first coming one day earlier.

Martin County West thrower Makena Larson also earned a Class A state medal by heaving the shot 38 feet, 6 3/4 inches to share fourth-place honors with Luverne’s Jocelyn Hart.

After Thompson earned her first medal in Thursday’s 3,200-meter run with a second-place finish, she ran a personal-best and set the Fairmont school record with a time of 5:04.65 in the 1,600-meter run, earning her third behind Heron Lake-Okabena/Fulda’s Morgan Gehl, who took second at 5:00.71, and Canby/Minneota’s Grace Drietz, who set the championship time of 5:00.45.

Artz got the boys’ meet started with a ninth-place finish in the 100-meter dash, standing on the final podium spot, with a time of 11.24, while Spectum’s Max Reis ran the championship time of 10.84.

Artz then earned his second medal when he placed third in the 400-meter run with a time of 50.04, besting the 2019 championship time of 50.51. Canby/Minneota’s AJ Josephson took second at 50.03, just edging Artz in the final steps, while Plainview-Elgin-Millville’s Kyler Bade ran a time of 49.63 for first.

“What I wanted to do was get out fast, I wanted to be leading at the 300 mark,” Artz said. “That’s what I was doing and if I was going to lose, it would be in the last 30 to 50 meters and that’s what ended up happening. The defending state champ got me and the other kid got me by 100th of a second. I wanted to go out hard and not walk away thinking, ‘Oh, I could have ran the first 200 better.’

“I really just wanted to finish, around 50 meters, I couldn’t really feel my legs (in the 400), so I just wanted to keep my form the best I could. It felt good to get on the podium.”

Hernes earned her first medal of the day in the 100-meter high hurdles, where she bested her seeding time by three-tenths of a second to place seventh in 15.73. Concordia Academy-Roseville’s Shaina Zineter stood atop the podium with a time of 14.29.

Hernes then finished the meet with a personal-best and school-record distance in the triple jump, breaking the record she set earlier this season. Hernes cleared 38-0 1/4 to earn second in her best event, while Maple Lake’s Maggie Larson took gold and set the Class A state record with a jump of 40-10.5.

“Our medals were some high ones, school record for Ellie in the triple, another for Laura in the 1,600, those don’t ever come easily,” Fairmont head coach Bob Bonk said. “We’ve been big-meet performers and we continue to do so. It’s a big stage. … It’s not easy to do what they did today.”

Fairmont’s big three weren’t the only area athletes to bring home hardware.

Hernes started her day with an 11th-place finish in the long jump, where she cleared 16-5 1/4 before she claimed 12th in the 300-meter hurdles with a time of 48.71.

Artz finished his day with a 13th-place finish in the 200-meter dash with a time of 23.31.

“The goal was to medal in all three obviously, but I’m really happy with my performances,” Artz said. “It was a little hard today with only the boys meet, it was a quick turnaround. At this point, everyone is great, so it’s hard to not be 100 percent. But overall, it was a great day.”

Fairmont’s Hank Artz capitalized on his first trip to the state meet with a 13th-place throw of 47-8 3/4, while the Cardinal boys 4×200-meter relay team of James Johnson, Trey Tumbleson, Kainen Craig and Isaiah Lockwood placed 13th with a time of 1:35.35.

“Hudson had a great, great performance in the 400, within a tenth of second, definitely his best ever,” Bonk said. ” … Hank threw the second-best of his life and the relay team exceeded their seed time a little bit. … That’s probably about all we could get from those guys this year.”

The Blue Earth Area boys 4×100-meter relay team of Riley Anderson, Austin Thielfoldt, Jacob Olson and Jack Norman ran a time of 45.65 for 15th place, while the Fairmont girls 4×100 team of Karalyn Closs, Brooklyn Meyer, Ellie Schultze and Sabrina Segar was disqualified after a troublesome handoff.

“Starting out, I was just worried that we were going to get shut down because of COVID somewhere along the line,” Bonk said. “As the weeks went on, we kept going and went from a cold, rainy April to a late-July-like rest of the season. … As hot as state and sections were, we had weeks of training in it and that makes a big difference. I felt good about having a section meet and state meet, because I honestly didn’t think that would happen back in March.

“But now, we move toward a new challenge (moving up with the introduction of a new class by the MSHSL) and I think we’re ready for it.”

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