by Eric Oslund
The Elk River boys track and field team made their way down to Farmington on Thursday, April 13, to compete in an invitational.
The southern suburbs have some of the largest schools in the state, which meant the Elks would have plenty of tough competition to go up against. Eagan, Rosemount and Farmington were some of the noteworthy teams, and, of course, Lakeville South, who is one of the top teams in the state.
Overall, the Elks had a good day. They had two individual champions with Matt Dahlson taking first in the 300-meter hurdles and Christopher Udalla winning the triple jump.
“He was second last year at state in the triple jump,” head coach Brian Gilbertson said of Udalla. “He was hampered by an injury at the state meet, so he could not do the 4×100 finals, and the long jump last year. So we’re just trying to progress him along. We’re being a little more safe with what we do. He could have done another event (Thursday), but we’re just making sure we’re there. We’re progressing and not doing too much too quick.”
As a team, the boys decided to load up in the relays, and were looking to leave their mark on the track. It worked to perfection as they took first in three of the four relays they participated in.
Zach Berg, Dahlson, Justin Pearson and Udalla took first in the 4×100 with a time of 44.21; the grouping of Jacob Heyne, Pearson, Noah Weege, and Christian Leonard took first in the 4×400 with a time of 3:32.26; and Heyne, Weege, Lucas Gustafson and Leonard teamed up to take first in the 4×80 with a time of 8:14.13.
“The relays is the event we loaded up, and there was great competition in all three races,” Gilbertson began. “Lakeville South is favorite in the 4×100 to win state… We had to fill in Zach Berg in the 4×100 and we still ended up beating them, and the time wasn’t as fast due to the cold weather. That was a big relay for us. The 4×400 and 4×800 were also very competitive, back and forth the whole way, and we just ended up running very smart and making sure we were tactically getting handoffs, and we were patient when making our moves.”
While the event had plenty of highs from the team coming from the northwest suburbs, there was one low. Senior captain Mark Swann tweaked his hamstring in the 100-meter dash, and the severity of the injury was unknown.
It’s a big loss for the team, especially if he has to miss any significant time.
“It’d be a big loss,” Gilberson said of the Swann’s injury. “He’s one of our three top sprinters, and very important on our relay. His 100, 200 and the long jump, from a true-team scoring stand point, is huge. He’s also huge at the end of the year when we’re looking at getting chances to go to the state meet.”