by Bruce Strand, Sports editor
Elk River’s best boys track season in the 10 years since the district was split will conclude with a good representation at the state meet next week.
Led by junior sprinter Morris Dennis, the Elks placed third in Section 7AA at UM-Duluth on Wednesday and Saturday. They won two relays and qualified for state in three, while Dennis took the 400 dash title, so the Elks will have four events at state.
“Morris Dennis had a monster meet,” said coach Brian Gilberton. “He was in three events, with all three advancing to state.”
The Elks also had some “heartbreaking” third-place finishes, said the coach, including a photo finish involving star hurdler Logan Grace. The top two advance.
Forest Lake won with 134 points, followed by Andover 128.5 and the Elks 96 as those three were far in front of the 16-school field. Weather conditions were much better Wednesday than Saturday when it was cold, wet and windy so times were not as good Saturday.
“All in all: a great meet,” assessed Gilbertson, adding that weather was rough with mixes of rain and off-and-one gusty winds.
Dennis, a lanky junior, emerged as 400-meter champion with 49.96, a stride ahead of Hibbing’s Deion Harris. It was nice redemption for Dennis, who had a great prelim at last year’s section but faded in the finals. Morris also advances in the 4×400 and 4×200.
Grace, a state qualifier last year in the 300H, just missed in both hurdle races, placing third in the 300 with 40.27 (after a 39.81 prelim) and third in the 110 highs with a personal best 15.24 where the photo finish was needed. He did make state in a relay.
Grace led off the 4×400 team that won in a section record 3:23.86 with Riley Filipovich, Morris and Ryan Trapp. Andover was next in 3:25.38.
The Elks also won the 4×800 with Nathan Webster, Lucas Trapp, Mitchell Weege and Ryan Trapp finishing in 8:07.90, two seconds ahead of Cloquet and No. 2 all-time in Elk history.
The Elk 4×200 took second with Isaac Schwab, Morris, Trent Pink and Denis Bardashevskiy lowering their own school record to 1:30.28, trailing only Andover.
The other Elk relay also did well as the 4×100 team of Devin Donelson, Schwab, Zach Ernst and Bardashevskiy was third (43.57) which broke the school record. Previous record was 43.65 in 2010.
Two Elk juniors scored in the 200 as Bardashevskiy was fourth (23.13) and Schwab eighth (23.51).
Fanaka Ndege took fourth place in long jump with 19-4, after placing a close third in the triple on Wednesday (43-1 1/2). Jacob Buhl was seventh with 19-1/4.
Ryan Trapp was fourth in the 800 (2:00.10). William Hoff tied for sixth in high jump (5-6). Mitch Peterzen was eight in the 300H (43.86).
Forest Lake’s champs were led by Cody Wright, who won high hurdles and high jump and took second in the 300H, and Jacob Jankowski, who doubled with 1600 and 3200 golds. The Rangers were also 1-2 in the 100 with Richard Carr and Andrew Wrigh and Anthony Tyler won discus.
State Class AA competition will be held Friday and Saturday at Hamline starting 9 a.m. each day.
1. Forest Lake 134
2. Andover 128.5
3. Elk River 96
4. Duluth Denfeld 57
5. Grand Rapids 45
6. St. Francis 44.5
7. Cloquet 40
8. Cambrdge-Isanti 37
9. North Branch 25
10. Hibbing 19
Chisago Lakes 19
12. Hermantown 18
13. Duluth East 15
14. Big Lake 9
15. Zimmerman 8
16. Princeton 7