ST. PAUL - The Fairmont Cardinals' boys 4x400-meter relay blazed to a second-place finish in its preliminary heat Friday at the Minnesota State High School League's Class A track & field meet at Hamline University.
Fairmont's Kevin Hanson, who had a strong week of practice as an alternate, was asked to step in as the first leg of the relay instead of Ryan Heuer. After Hanson's lap, Rainier Quade was handed the baton in fourth place.
"I saw my opponents on the back straightaway and I saw my chance to make a move, so I took it," said Quade.
HURDLING TO THE FINALS — Fairmont’s Ryan Heuer clears a hurdle during his preliminary heat race Friday at the Class A state track & field meet at Hamline University in St. Paul. Heuer went on to qualify for both hurdles finals today. (Photo by Chip Pearson)
Quade worked his way into second before Carson Ricard - the third leg - gave Mark Fruechte a chance to win the race.
"I felt great trailing Waseca a little bit. It pushed me a little more to have them right there," said Ricard.
On the backstretch, Fruechte passed Waseca's Shane Streich, and it came down to the final 100 meters to decide the winner. Streich just beat the Cardinals, 3:27.93-3:27.99, with both teams advancing to today's finals.
"Carson came in with great position and gave me a good chance to win. I just ran my hardest and really wanted to win," said Fruechte.
The always-electrifying 4x400 was a fitting end to a fierce day of competition.
Blue Earth Area's girls 4x400 continued to outpace its opponents, finishing in first place with a time of 4:02.38. Krista Hassing solidified the more than 2-second victory with a strong anchor leg to propel Taylor Grandgenett, Anne Franta and Karli Olsen over Park Rapids Area's 4:04.46.
Hassing also earned a spot in today's 800-meter run finals by finishing in fourth place in 2:22.09 during the preliminaries.
Blue Earth Area's Marissia Hagedorn started things off successfully for the area teams by winning the 100-meter hurdles prelims in 15.46. Fairmont's Heuer also earned a place in today's 110-meter hurdles finals by finishing second in 14.93 during his prelims.
Blue Earth Area senior Jake Zebedeee finished second behind Blake School's Grant Krieger in the pole vault competition. Zebedee went 14 feet, 9 inches, while Krieger topped out at 15-feet even.
Blue Earth Area teammate Josh Johnson finished in ninth place in the shot put. Johnson's throw of 48 feet earned him a place on the podium stand Friday.
Haley Jensen, the Martin County West freshman who entered state with the 13th-seeded time, sped to a second-place finish in the open 100-meter dash prelims and earned a spot in today's finals. The heat, which included seven finalists, was separated by less than a second, with Jensen coming in at 12.52.
"About halfway through the race she was in the middle to the back of the pack, and when everyone died towards the end, she just kept her speed up. I was very pleased with her endurance," said Martin County West coach Curtis Smith. "This week we practiced for an hour and a half to two hours in the heat and tried to limit the time inside, so I think that prepared her for the hot day today."
The Bucs' Hagedorn and the Cardinals' Heuer each earned a spot in the 300 hurdle finals. Hagedorn finished in 46.73, which was good for fourth in her preliminary heat, while Heuer finished first with a time of 39.68.
Fairmont's Sasha Riley came in third during her preliminary heat of the open 400. Riley's qualifying time of 59.85 puts her in Lane 9 for today's final.
"We got done what we needed to get done today to get to tomorrow. We had a great season's-best in the 4x400, and Rainier really cranked out that second leg. It was a great team effort. We finished very well overall today, it's a good day," said Fairmont coach Bob Bonk.
The Madelia/Truman Jayhawks' 4x400 relay came in fifth in its preliminary heat. DaMarko Thomas, Adam Cooling, Cade Ekstrom and Leeroy Leal combined for a time of 3:29.19 to put the foursome in today's finals.
Jayhawk teammate Caleb Arndt came in third in the open 800. His time of 1:58.19 put him into today's finals. Thomas also ran in the open 200, finishing in 23.58.
The Bucs' Nick Beattie missed the finals in the 100 by three-hundredths of a second. Beattie finished fourth in his preliminary heat at 11.22. Blue Earth Area sprinter Jacob Olson raced in the 200, finishing in fifth place in 23.07.
Fairmont's Paige Bearson just missed today's finals in the long jump by a quarter of an inch. Her leap of 16-3 1/4 put her in 10th place.
The Cardinals' Sierra Schultz and Bearson will compete in the triple jump today. Blue Earth Area's Josh Johnson will throw in the discus competition, while Fairmont's Megan Fuhrman will attempt to medal in the pole vault.
The Class A finals for all events begin at 3:30 p.m. today at Hamline University in Day 2 of the Minnesota State High School League track & field meet.