In last year's Section 8, Class 2A track and field meet Brainerd's Ally Hartje finished seventh in the triple jump while her twin sister, Taylor, won the title.
The disappointment of not qualifying for state didn't prevent Ally from being her sister's biggest booster at state. Ally made a T-shirt that said "Taylor's Superfan" and followed Taylor's exploits at state.
"I was close but my jumps were scratches," Ally said of the section meet. "I messed up my runways. I didn't jump bad (33-7 1/2), I just couldn't get on target. I couldn't get my steps down. I was still happy for Taylor."
Kris Smith, who coaches Warrior triple jumpers, said Taylor probably felt worse than Ally following the section. Smith said Ally's final jump would have qualified her for state if she had not scratched.
"I've never seen anything like it," Smith said. "Taylor should have been jumping for joy, but she was just sobbing. She felt so bad for her sister. That's the kind of connection they have."
Ally has gotten the jump on her sister in two meets this spring. She won the Huskie Classic at St. Cloud State with an indoor triple jump of 33 feet, 6 inches.
"Actually, I hadn't had much runway work but I was on," Ally said.
Last weekend she won the Central Lakes Conference Indoor title at 33-7 1/2.
"My runway was on," Ally said. "I had one week more of practice, I was more comfortable, and more confident."
Sport: Track and field
Events: Triple and high jumps, 300 hurdles, 400 dash
Weight: 130 pounds
Other sports: Soccer, basketball
Memorable sports achievement: Playing on section runner-up soccer team last fall
Grade-point average: 3.7
Favorite subject: Math
Favorite food: Ice cream
Favorite TV show: The OC
Hobbies: Inline skating, socializing
Future plans: Attend college, play soccer or compete in track
Athlete she admires: Her sister, Taylor
Parents: Wayne and Cheryl Hartje
In addition, Ally has finished seventh and fifth in the high jump in the indoor meets.
"My best is 5 feet," she said. "Both times in the past two meets that's what I couldn't get over. I was really close. It was kind of frustrating. That's my goal, to do better than I have done, maybe get 5-2 or 5-4."
Hartje will run the 300 hurdles for the first time Friday in the first outdoor meet when Brainerd hosts Rocori and Sartell in a CLC triangular.
"I'm excited for that because I'm getting more practice," Hartje said. "Last year I kind of did it just to have fun. This year I'm trying really hard at it. I'm putting more time into it."
Hartje also ran the 400-meter leg of the sprint medley and 4x400 relays in the indoor meets.
"I like running relays because you feel like part of a team again, it's not so individual," she said. "I like running the 400. It's a challenge."
Smith said Hartje's length and strength enable her to excel in the triple jump.
"You don't have to be the fastest person on the team to be a good triple jumper," Smith said. "You have to have speed, strength and good body awareness. Ally's a technician. Her technique has come a long way and I think people notice that.
"Ally and her sister are athletes who come along once in a lifetime. Having two girls myself I look at (the Hartjes) and think 'Wow.' Their mom and dad are doing something right."
Other notable efforts:
Jenni Beilke, track and field, won the 55 dash in both indoor meets.
James Strand, track and field, was on a first-place 4x100 relay, won the 55 hurdles and was on the winning 4x400 relay in two indoor meets.
Hilary Smith, softball, pitched consecutive shutouts in the first two games.
Mike Bialka can be reached at email@example.com or at 855-5861.
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