ST. PAUL — Vanessa Lane exhibited the poise and determination of a senior.
The Pequot Lakes freshman carried the load on her shoulders as she anchored the Patriot girls 4x100 relay to the state championship Saturday in the Class 1A finals at Hamline University.
Eighth-grader Rachel Allen led off, followed by senior Kendra Johnson and sophomore Nicole Traut, who handed the baton to Lane and the freshman clinched the first state track and field title in Pequot Lakes school history.
In the finals, Pequot finished at 50.21 to edge top-seeded St. Croix Lutheran, which was clocked at 50.36.
“We were tied with a couple other girls and our third runner (Traut) got us a lead by a little bit,” Lane said. “Our hand-offs were good. I think that played a big role in it because hand-offs are a lot in a relay.
“It’s overwhelming, just awesome. We’re all just so excited.”
Pequot entered the finals with the second-fastest seed time (50.93), trailing only St. Croix’s 50.73.
“We thought we had a pretty good shot at the leaders,” Lane said. “We’ve gone their time before so we were just hoping we could get in front of them.”
Pequot Lakes head coach Brian Kazmierczak said he and assistant coach Jana Lueck started noticing, when comparing times to what other schools were running during the season, that the Patriots were one of the state’s fastest relays.
“When we ran sections and broke 51 (seconds) again for the second week in a row, with a 20 mph wind, we felt really good,” he said. “When St. Croix Lutheran ran 50.73 on a perfect day Friday I thought we had a good opportunity.
See PEQUOT, Page 6B
“It was a lot of fun. The girls were nervous, but they managed their nerves well. Their hand-offs were perfect, which they have to be in that race.
“The girls were all so excited. I don’t know if it will sink in until next fall, when they start a new season and realize what they came through with.”
Kazmierczak said the relay had chemistry despite its youth.
“Last year Rachel ran two meets on varsity, subsections and sections,” he said, “so we knew coming in we had a pretty talented young lady there. And, we knew we had to utilize her as much as possible. She worked on her starts all year.
“Kendra is always a calming person. She runs the longest leg. We put her at the beginning of the exchange zone and she’s handing off at the next exchange so she’s running a long way. She’s very fast, a great leader, I can’t say enough about Kendra.
“Nicole, it’s her first year in track. It took some convincing, but what an addition for our program.
“Vanessa, once we get her the baton it’s relaxing for a coach. We know when we get her the baton we’re in good hands. She runs so strong, she’s so powerful.”
Pequot’s championship headlined a grand day for lakes area 1A athletes. Pillager’s Wesley Delong was fourth in the boys 400 dash and Staples-Motley’s Jaelin Beachy was fourth in the girls 300 hurdles.
Delong, who plays soccer for Brainerd High School, finished at 50.23 in an event won by St. Paul Humboldt’s Calvin Clark, who won four titles Saturday.
“Clark kind of had everyone but second place, my friend Wade Kerner (of Roseau), we were 2/100ths of a second behind (Kerner), so it was really close,” Delong said. “We were neck and neck.”
Delong, a junior, who ran 50.03 in Friday’s prelims, placed seventh last year and will have one more crack at winning the event in 2012.
“The guy that took third, we have the same time,” Delong said of Caldedonia-Spring Grove’s Mitch Reiser. “He must have had more body on me, but we had the same time. It kind of made me a little upset, but I’m happy with a fourth.”
Beachy, a freshman, ran 45.84 to place fourth in her event. She finished 14th as an eighth-grader.
“My goal was to place in the top three,” Beachy said. “I came in in seventh (seed) so I just kind of said I have nothing to lose, and go for it.
“The third-place girl (Lovisa Gronros of Fairmont) got me right at the end, so I took fourth, but I’m happy with that.”
Other area all-staters (top 9 finishers) included Pillager’s fifth-place 4x400 relay of Sean Nokken, Devin Strack, Matt Neurerur and Delong).
Pequot’s Jordan Anderson finished sixth in boys 300 hurdles.
In boys long jump, S-M’s Brian Huber was sixth and Aitkin’s Bryan Zenke tied for seventh.
Pequot’s boys 4x100 relay of Nolan Michaelson, Tyler Tappe, Isaac Allen and Anderson placed eighth.
Class 1A Boys Finals
4x100 relay: 1-Pine City 43.70; 8-Pequot Lakes (Nolan Michaelson, Tyler Tappe, Isaac Allen, Jordan Anderson) 44.92
4x400 relay: 1-Worthington 3:24.93; 5-Pillager (Sean Nokken, Devin Strack, Matt Neurerur, Wesley Delong) 3:30.83
Discus: 1-Brian Blasey (Ada-Borup) 154-7, 11-Tomas Parker (PL) 141-5
Long jump: 1-Caleb Hamp-Sill (Two Harbors) 21-10.25, 6-Brian Huber (S-M) 20-10.5, 7-tie-Bryan Zenke (Aitkin) 20-10-0
High jump: 1-Aaron Wubben (Central MN Christian) 6-7, 10-Brian Huber (S-M) 6-2
300 hurdles: 1-Gathin Veldhuizen (Pipestone) 38.95, 6-Jordan Anderson (PL) 40.49
400 dash: 1-Calvin Clark (St. Paul Humboldt) 49.66, 4-Wesley Delong (Pillager) 50.23
Class 1A Girls Finals
300 hurdles: 1-Danielle Larson (St. Peter) 43.83, 4-Jaelin Beachy (S-M) 45.84
4x100 relay: 1-Pequot Lakes (Rachel Allen, Kendra Johnson, Nicole Traut, Vanessa Lane) 50.21
Shot put: 1-Rebecca Osterdyk (Mora) 43-2, 10-Vanessa Hudrlik (C-I) 36-3.5
Triple jump: 1-Analisa Huschle (Bagley-Fosston) 39-4.5, 11-Sienna Miller (C-I) 34-1.75