by Eric Oslund
The Elk River girls tack and field team advanced seven events to the state tournament – the 4×100-, 4×200- and 4×800-meter relays; Katie Buhl in the 200-meter dash and long jump; Angel Fredin in the 300-meter hurdles; and Sidney Wentland in the shot put.
They converged on Hamline University and were ready for two days on competition, beginning Friday, June 9.
All season long, the Elks had focused on loading up their relays, trying to get as many girls to the state meet as possible. It paid off as nine different girls made it as a part of three relay teams, with the 4×400-meter relay being the only one not qualifying.
The 4×100- and 4×200-meter relays both started their state trip on Friday, having to go through preliminary rounds before getting a chance to compete in the finals.
First up was the team of Adaeze Udalla, Ava Grimm, Alaina Schoenfelder and Buhl competing in the 4×200 relay, barely sneaking into the finals, earning the ninth seed with a time of 1:44.42.
Udalla, Grimm and Buhl then had to come right back and race in the 4×100, this time being joined by Lauren Ives. They would also qualify for the finals the next day, coming in eighth with a time of 49.13 seconds.
The final relay, the 4×800, didn’t have a qualifying round on Friday, so all three would be competing on Saturday.
Despite qualifying in ninth, the 4×200 relay came back strong on Saturday with a time of 1:44.48 and a seventh-place finish. But whether it was the short rest, the hot temperatures, or something else, the 4×100 did not have the same success, finishing in ninth with a time of 49.86 seconds. That is one of the down sides of having three girls in the same events, it takes a lot out of them when they have to race four times in two days when temperatures are getting up into the 90’s.
Those high temperatures also have a big impact on distance runners, and could have played a part in the 4×800-meter relay team of Maria Brown, Audrey Neuerburg-Chapman, Jessica Holmquist, and Madelyn Christian. They ended up finishing in 15th with a time of 9:53.50 – about 13 minutes slower than their section qualifying time.
As far as individuals go, Sidney Wentland finished in seventh for shot put with a distance of 40-10.25, and Buhl finished 14th in both the long jump (15-03.25) and the 200-meter dash (26.41).
Then there was Fredin. She had seemingly found her grove in the 300-meter hurdles during the section finals, breaking an Elk River record that had stood for 19 years with a time of 45.47 seconds. She then improved on that mark during the state prelims with a time of 45.37 seconds, which was also fast enough for the seventh seed in the finals.
She had one more chance to give it everything she had this season, and to leave her mark at state, and she would. Fredin ended up finishing the 300-meter hurdles finals in fifth place with a time of 45.08, lowering her own school record for the third race in a row.
While not every outcome may have been what the Elks were looking for during this trip to state, there is a lot to be happy about. For one, it’s an honor to just make it to the state tournament. The other positive is that a majority of the girls competing were underclassman who will be returning to the team.
Meaning this Elks team should be well represented at state for years to come.