Track: Thunder’s Giese, Ortberg both place 5th at state meet

Cassie Ortberg cleared a hurdle in the 300 finals on the way to fifth place. (Photo by Bill Jones)

by Bruce Strand, Sports editor

It’s been an action-packed and high-achieving senior year for Brandon Giese, especially the spring season, and the Zimmerman athlete was able to end it on a good note at the state track meet.

Giese long-jumped 20 feet, 11 inches and placed fifth in Class A at Hamline on Saturday afternoon, moving up four places from last year. He remains the only ZHS boy to “medal” in state track.

Meanwhile, Thunder sophomore Cassie Ortberg placed fifth in the 300 hurdles, and junior Ethan Lunning came up empty in the discus, just missing a slot in the finals.

Brandon Geise moved up four places from last year, placing fifth in long jump. (Photo by Bill Jones)

“It wasn’t my best long jump, but I’m pretty happy to get fifth place,” said Giese, whose PB was 21-5 at conference this year. “It was a great way to go out.”

Giese was one of two senior leaders on the basketball team that earned ZHS’s first state berth in any sport this winter, and finished as the school’s No. 1 all-time scorer. He played soccer in the fall, and this spring  played both baseball and track — after doing just baseball in 10th grade and just track in 11th grade. He had a solid baseball season, hitting four home runs with an average around .350  while playing a rangy center field and doing some pitching. In track he also contributed nicely in sprints, relays, triple jump and high jump.

“I am just so happy to have been part of Zimmerman sports,” said Giese, who will play basketball at Concordia (Moorhead). “Every single team I’ve been part of has been awesome, all the coaches and teammates. I could not ask for a better way to end my sports career. It’s a little sad that it’s over but it’s been a great time and I have no regrets.”

Jumps coach Cassandra Olson said that Giese, a late starter in track (11th grade) has been “a great kid to work with” and a quick learner. “Pretty much the first time he long jumped, he had it,” she said.

Giees has the ZHS long jump record and ranks second in high jump with 5-10 and third in triple jump with 42-3.

The long jump was won by Caleb Hamp-Sill of Two Harbors with 21-10 1/4.

Ortberg capped a banner sophomore season placing fifth in 300 hurdles with 46.00, after posting the fourth-best prelim time of 45.86.

“It actually was not one of my better races,” said Ortberg. “I stutter-stepped quite a few of them and I stumbled pretty good over one of them, so I was lucky to get what I did and I’m happy with fifth.”

Ethan Lunning, shown here in warmups, placed 10th in the discus prelims. The top nine advance. (Photo by Bruce Strand)

Ortberg made state last year in the 300 and didn’t get through prelims. This year she also qualified in the 100 hurdles  but tripped on the final hurdle in prelims when it appeared she would get third in the heat and advance to finals. That was her only trip of the season.

Ortberg had a big year in hurdles, long jump and high jump after changing her focus to hurdles and jumps. She already owned Thunder records in the 1600 run (5:23.83 in eighth grade) and 400 dash (1:02.32 in ninth grade) and this year added records in the 100 hurdles (15.47) and 300 hurdles (her 45.86 in prelims). She also ranks No. 2 all-time with a 5-2 high jump and 16-3 long jump.

Her raw athletic ability and potential are quite impressive.

“She just added the 100 highs this year and qualified for state in just the fifth time she ran it,” said Jenny Manthey, assistant coach.

Lunning, who won his section with a personal-best 153-8 discus, could not get tracked Saturday and topped out at 141-11 to place 10th in prelims. The top nine advance, and the winner, Brian Blasey of Ada-Borup, had 154-7.


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