Bucs’ pair, Jayhawk relay win state

ST. PAUL – Blue Earth Area freshman hurdler Taylor Grandgenett and the Bucs’ boys 4×200-meter relay took home a pair of Class A state track titles on Saturday, while Madelia/Truman/Granada-Huntley-East Chain/Martin Luther Jayhawk boys 4×400 relay raced to another state championship at Klas Stadium on the Hamline University campus in St. Paul.

Grandgenett, who went into the 300-meter hurdle finals with the fastest prelims time of 45.40 seconds, dropped nearly another half a second off her time to blow away the competition with a championship time of 45.03.

“I thought that Taylor ran another brilliant race. She was challenged in the first three hurdles, which hasn’t happened too much this year, but she really finished strong and was able to win,” said Blue Earth Area head coach Tom Plocker.

The Bucs’ boys 4×200 relay team of Taylor Olson, Alberto Ocampo, Bailey Olson and Nick Beattie then motored to a championship time of 1:30.67.

In both the preliminary and finals, the opening three legs of the Bucs relay kept them within the top five places. Beattie then provided the blistering anchor leg, moving the Bucs both times from fifth place into the winning position.

“I think it was destiny that this team won state,” said Plocker. “We were able to get Beattie in the relay at state because another athlete went on a school trip, and the relay itself made it out of both sub-sections and sections with a couple upsets to get here. The first three guys did a great job of running their legs, and just gave Beattie an opportunity to get the win.”

The Jayhawks then provided the fireworks in the final event of Day 2, with two-time state wrestling champion Adam Cooling holding off the field for the boys 4×400 championship.

DaMarko Thomas gave the Jayhawks a solid lead off the opening leg, before Jon Whitney took control of the race.

“That was an outstanding race overall. The guys ran their best time of the season and their goal all year was to win state,” said MTGHECML head coach Pete Goeringer. “The second leg of Jon’s was really the turning point for us. We had the lead, but with Minnehaha Academy’s guy (Keenan Baynard) at his heels, he was able to give Cade (Ekstrom) the baton still with the lead.”

Ekstrom then passed the baton to Cooling, who raced across the line for a first-place time of 3:23.30.

After battling the Jayhawks through sub-sections, sections and the preliminaries, the Fairmont boys 4×400 team of Payton Schlomann, Evan Ward, Justin Barnes and Mark Fruechte raced to a fifth-place time of 3:27.04.

The Jayhawks earned the edge in each of their previous meetings, but Fruechte ran the second-fastest split in Fairmont history, with a 49.8-second 400 time to try to inch closer to the top spot. Unfortunately for Fairmont, it was unable to improve upon a stellar prelims time.

“Friday’s time was such a spectacular improvement from their times all year that I think the guys were a little disappointed with how they ran (Saturday),” said Fairmont head coach Bob Bonk. “But these seniors were great leaders and role models and even though their time wasn’t exactly where they wanted to be, they still ran a great race.”

Grandgenett also ran the lead leg of the Bucs’ second-place girls 4×400 relay. The quartet of Anne Franta, Karli Olsen and Krista Hassing had the fastest-qualifying time going into the finals of 4:00.52, and improved upon that in the finals with a time of 3:59.65.

Unfortunately for the Bucs, Osakis – the defending champions – raced to a time of 3:58.34 to earn the championship.

“After getting second last year, these girls had the goal of winning state, and they ran extremely well. They were only a couple hundredths off their time from last year, but they’re a little disappointed,” said Plocker. “The younger girls really wanted to win it for Krista (Hassing) because it was her last race, but I think after a couple days they’ll get to enjoy this one.”

The Martin County West girls 4×100 relay switched its handoff order just hours before the final, but took advantage of a fresh change to earn a second-place time of 49.86.

Hailey Holtz, Libbie Lange, Taryn Tumbleson and Haley Jensen came in with the ninth-seeded time of 51.11 only to stun the field with a second-place finish.

“I had an idea that morning that if we switched up the lineup we might be able to cut a few seconds,” said Martin County West head coach Curtis Smith. “I talked it over with the girls and they agreed it was worth a chance. It was a gamble, but it worked and was so awesome.”

Jensen, who typically ran the second leg of the relay, switched to anchor and claimed her second runner-up honors of the day. The sophomore also took home second in the open 100, finishing in 12.65 seconds.

Morgan Larson completed a successful and entertaining day for the Mavericks, stunning the competition with a 2:16.57 time for third place.

“As a coach, you see the potential of your athletes. And in the last few weeks, Morgan’s times have just kept dropping, but it was so exciting to see how well she did,” said Smith.

MTGHECML’s Josh Johanson also provided some drama for the Jayhawk faithful, reaching a personal-best height of 6 feet, 5 inches for second place in the high jump.

Johanson, who previously broke the school record of 6-3 and won the section with a jump of 6-2, finished second to top-seeded Pillager jumper Matt Neururer, who jumped 6-6.

Fairmont sophomore Sierra Schultz earned a pair of medals on Saturday, racing to fifth in the 100 hurdles with a time of 16.02 before finishing eighth in the triple jump by going 34-9 1/2.

Cooling, Jacob Wolter, Whitney and Ekstrom teamed at the start of the state meet to race in the 4×800 relay for the Jayhawks. MTGHECML were the defending champions, but with only half the team returning, still managed to race to a sixth-place time of 8:13.69.

Beattie raced in a pair of individual events for the Bucs in addition to the relay, finishing seventh in both the open 100 and 200 with times of 11.35 and 22.87, respectively.