by Bruce Strand, Sports editor
For a ninth-place team, the Elk River boys tracksters and their coaches felt pretty giddy at the conclusion of the Northwest Suburban Conference meet Thursday.
That’s because stellar runs by senior Morris Dennis and sophomore Lucas Trapp netted four gold medals and two conference records in the latter stages of the two-day meet at Coon Rapids.
“I don’t think I’ve ever had a better hour at a track meet,” reflected Brian Gilbertson, head boys coach, and distance coach for both teams, “starting the with girls mile.”
He referred to Rachel Ness taking the 1600 (see separate story), followed by Trapp winning the boys 1600, Dennis breaking the conference record in the 400, Trapp adding the 800 title (after Ness took second), then Trapp and Dennis teaming with Matt Olson and Nate Wallestad to shatter the 4×400 record in the final event.
“The boys coaches were just whooping and hollering, they were so excited, in the 4×400,” said girls coach Brenda Holmgren. “It was so good to see them have that to celebrate.”
It’s been an uneventful spring with a very young team, only two veteran standouts, and few competitions due to the lousy weather, but everything seemed worthwhile with the strong finish at conference on a sunny 70-degree afternoon.
“We’ve got some options to talk about as a staff before the sectional,” said Gilbertson. “We didn’t have options to talk about before.”
The Blaine Bengals were champions, followed by Champlin Park and Osseo in the 11-team meet.
Trapp earned his first gold of the day taking the 1600 in 4:25.46, with Andover’s Chris Meados next at 4:28.40. That’s the same order of finish last year when Trapp won it as a freshman.
The willowy 6-foot-4 Trapp added the 800-meter title in 1:54.69, gliding away from runner-up Mitchell Dickerson of Maple Grove by five seconds.
In the 400, Dennis churned around the track in 48.90 to break the NWSC record of 49.73. In fact, he was .65 of a second faster than the runner-up who also broke the old record, Charles Fatunbi of Coon Rapids (49.55). Dennis was runner-up last year (behind a senior) in 49.4.
The Elks were a surprise winner in the 4×400 with 3:24.48. Maple Grove was next in 3:26.15, each beating the old record of 3:26.15. Trapp passed several runners in the second leg, which he covered in 49.4. “When Lucas got the baton, it was lights out,” said Gilbertson. Dennis had one man to beat in the anchor leg and got past him early on the way to a 49.2 split.
In between those stellar runs, Dennis placed fifth in the 200 with 22.71.
Also scoring for the Elks were Will Hoff, eighth in high jump with 5-10; Christopher Thorndahl, ninth in pole vault with 11-6; and Jacob Buhl, seventh in triple jump with 40-6 on Tuesday.
The Elks didn’t score in the 100, 3200, 110 and 300 hurdles, shot put, and discus. In the other relays, they were seventh in the 4×100 and ninth in the 4×200 and 4×800.
Next for the Elks is Section 7AA at Zimmerman on Wednesday and Saturday.
1. Blaine 113
2. Champlin Park 93
3. Osseo 78.5
4. Anoka 73.5
5. Andover 68
6. Park Center 65
7. Armstrong 63.5
8. Coon Rapids 53.5
9. Elk River 49
10. Maple Grove 45
11. Centennial 39