ST. PAUL - The chase for Class A track and field state gold started in April.
After the first day of the state meet on Friday, each of the area relay teams and nearly all of the individual qualifiers are guaranteed to take home a medal from Klas Stadium on the Hamline University campus in St. Paul.
Fairmont's Josh Eversman was the lone participant to exit Day 1 with a state medal already around his neck.
STATELY PROGRESS — Fairmont’s Sierra Schultz glides over a hurdle during Class A state preliminary track action Friday at Hamline University in St. Paul. Schultz went on to qualify for today’s 100-meter high hurdles finals. (Photo by Leanna Becker)
STATELY PROGRESS — Martin County West’s Haley Jensen nears the finish line in the Class A state 4x100-meter relay race Friday at Hamline University in St. Paul. Jensen and the Mavericks’ relay team advanced to today’s finals. (Photo by Leanna Becker)
Eversman earned a ninth-place finish in the triple jump as a surprising final entry. After thinking that he hadn't qualified, Eversman was settled in to watch the final jumpers compete, but found out he was one.
The Cardinal senior then jumped 41 feet, 9 3/4 inches for ninth place.
Eversman will have a chance today to capture another individual medal in the long jump, in addition to adding a pair of relay medals.
The Cardinals' 4x100 and 4x200 boys relays both advanced to Day 2 of the state competition.
Peter Erickson, Zach Brown, Brian Wilde and Eversman raced to a fourth-place qualifying time of 44.13 seconds in the 4x100.
Erickson, Brown, Eversman and Thomas Willett then traded the baton for a fifth-place time of 1:31.96 in the 4x200 to make it to finals.
"I thought that we didn't run as well as we could have, and our handoffs weren't that clean, but we made it," said Brown.
The Blue Earth Area Bucs' girls 4x200 relay team of Skylee Bell, Miranda Johnson, Shayna Stevermer and Anne Franta also made it to the second day of the meet, racing to a sixth-place time of 1:46.92.
"We didn't race well, and we definitely could have done better with our handoffs. I think because it was the first race we had, we were nervous, so that was a part of it. So tomorrow, we'll race better," said Stevermer. "We have more potential than we showed today, so I think that will come out tomorrow."
Both Fairmont's boys and the Blue Earth Area girls 4x400 relays will race for a state title today.
The Cardinal team of Evan Ward, Nate Subbert, Brown and Willett raced to a seventh-place qualifying time of 3:28.21.
"I was taking out my hurdle aggravation in the relay," said Fairmont junior Evan Ward after finishing 14th in the 300 hurdles with a time of 42.40. "I was disappointed that I fell in the race, I was looking to chase down the guys in front of me too much and got distracted and slipped. So I used up all my aggravation in the relay after."
The Bucs' girls team (Taylor Grandgenett, Franta, Stevermer and Karli Olsen) is trying to best its performance from last year, finishing with a first-place and season's-best time of 4:00.81.
"We aren't really concerned about our time, but we've wanted to finish first all season, so that's been our goal," said Olsen.
In addition to Grandgenett helping the Bucs improve upon last year's second-place relays finish, the Blue Earth Area sophomore also will have a chance to defend last year's 300-meter hurdle title in the finals.
Grandgenett finished with a personal-best and first-place time of 44.59 in the 300 hurdles to make today's finals.
Olsen competed as an individual in the open 400, in addition to her relay efforts, finishing 11th in a personal-best time of 59.54 seconds.
Fairmont junior Sierra Schultz also earned a spot in the 100-meter hurdle finals, in addition to competing in today's triple jump, racing in with a fifth-place time of 15.58 seconds.
Martin County West's 4x100-meter relay squad raced its way to a spot in the finals. Taryn Tumbleson, Cora Olson, Hailey Leiding and Haley Jensen combined for a fourth-place time of 50.11.
Jensen also raced in the open 100-meter dash, but finished with an 11th-place time of 12.89 seconds and did not qualify for today's finals.
Leiding also competed as an individual, jumping in the long jump for a 10th-place distance of 16 feet, 1/2 inch.
Bailey Olson was the lone Bucs boys competing in the state meet, finishing 11th in the 200 with a time of 23.19 seconds.
Finals for the Class A state meet start at 3:30 p.m. today at Klas Stadium on the Hamline University campus in St. Paul.