Two years ago, an eighth-grade girl from Fergus Falls came to the state track meet as someone who was all but unknown outside her hometown. But Haylie Zenner won the Class 2A 800 meters, then did the same thing last year.
As I wrote a few days ago, I love to compile memories from high school tournaments. Another great one was added to the list at Saturday’s state track and field meet, and Haylie Zenner was part of it.
In late April, I spent some time in Fergus Falls and wrote about Haylie here on John’s Journal. Here is a short excerpt: Haylie remembers being “in shock” after winning a state title in the 800 as an eighth-grader. “I was hoping for top five,” she said with a smile. She could become a five-time state champ, and she admits to thinking about that, “but you never know what’s going to happen.”
You never know what’s going to happen. Indeed. Haylie did not win title No. 3 in the 800 Saturday. She placed second in an extremely close finish, hitting the wire a fraction of a second behind Maggie Carruth of Minnetonka.
Maggie is an eighth-grader, putting her right where Haylie was two years ago. The best part of the race, however, came a couple of steps after the two runners hit the wire. Still striding, Haylie looked to her right and Maggie looked to her left. Their eyes met, and they each flashed a smile.
It was a remarkable moment. For 800 meters the two athletes had battled through the pack of nine runners, fought their way around the curves and put themselves in prime position coming down the stretch in front of the cheering crowd at Hamline University’s Klas Field. It came down to the last couple of strides, and the youngster from Minnetonka got to the finish line first, with the veteran – albeit still only a sophomore – coming up short in an effort to win title No. 3.
And they smiled at each other. And then they hugged each other, the two-time champion congratulating the new champion, and the new champion realizing what she had just accomplished.
That one will be remembered for a long time.
ANOTHER GREAT SIGHT came after an injury. During the Class 1A boys’ 4x200 relay, a runner from Cannon Falls was injured. In order to help get him to the medical tent, a teammate propped up one of the injured runner’s shoulders and walked beside him … and a competitor from St. Croix Lutheran aided the runner on the other side. That is sportsmanship at its finest.
AFTER A GREAT stretch of spring weather – especially early in the spring – the conditions were not ideal Saturday at Hamline. Cool, rainy weather does not usually equate to great performances, but several athletes and relay teams made headlines. Two Class 2A girls won two events and Hopkins set state records in winning two 2A girls’ relays…
--Richfield freshman Jessica January tied her own state record of 14.33 seconds in winning the Class 2A 100-meter hurdles. She also won the 300-meter hurdles.
--Park Center’s Sasha Davis won the 2A girls’ 100 and 400.
--The Hopkins 4x200 girls relay team of Elise Anderson, Mary Tanoe, Kirsten Anderson and Bridget Sweeney set a state mark of 1:40.62, breaking Minneapolis Washburn's 2004 record of 1:40.76. Hopkins set another state record in the 4x400. Mariah Witt, Sweeney, Stephanie Rouse and Hannah Borowsky finished in 3:51.28, breaking the record of 3:52.13, set by Apple Valley in 1997. Hopkins also won the 4x100.
January is a freshman, Davis is a junior and Kirsten Anderson is the only senior on those two Hopkins relays teams. In other words, we may be hearing more from those athletes.
THE CLASS 1A portion of the meet was held during a continuous light rain, but that didn’t stop some wonderful performances.
--Analisa Huschle of Bagley/Fosston – a three-time state champ last year -- repeated her titles in the long jump and triple jump.
--Luverne’s Katlyn Sawtelle won the 100-meter hurdles and anchored the Cardinals’ winning 4x200 relay team. Also on the team were Alyssa Stegenga, Liberty Robinson and Britton Dyer.
--Calvin Clark of St. Paul Humboldt was another double winner, in the 100 and 200.
--Jordan Jarland of Lanesboro/Fillmore Central won gold in the long jump and 300 hurdles.
--Shawn Johnson of Eveleth-Gilbert swept the boys’ shot put and discus.
THANKFULLY, MY UMBRELLA – which spent Thursday night on the grounds of the state softball tournament in North Mankato – came in handy during Saturday’s track meet. Call me an eternal optimist for wearing short pants during a day in which the temperature never got above 60 degrees.
SATURDAY WAS A GOOD day for John’s Journal subjects. This spring I visited, interviewed, photographed and wrote about (among others) Jessica January, Analisa Huschle, Mubarik Musa (who won the 1A boys' 1,600) and Haylie Zenner.
THE TRACK MEET was another opportunity to rub elbows with some of the fine scribes who write about high school sports in Minnesota. Tom Elliott of the St. Cloud Times, Pat Ruff of the Rochester Post-Bulletin and Mike Bialka of the Brainerd Daily Dispatch … they all care about the kids and the teams and the communities they cover. Good guys one and all.
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