BLAINE -- As shot putter Ashley Rodriguez's track and field season ended Saturday at the Class 2A state track and field meet at the National Sports Center, thoughts of what might have been couldn't have been farther from her mind.
In her first and only season in track, Rodriguez, a long-time softball player before taking up track this year, fell just three inches short of the championship round with her best throw of the season (38-1 1/4). Even though her state meet had ended, Rodriguez was all smiles afterward.
"It's been an extremely great year for me," said Rodriguez. "I'm not at all upset with my final throw. If it was meant to happen, it would've happened."
Her throwing coach, Dan Clabo, thought about the possibilities had Rodriguez been throwing shot put earlier in her high school career, but he felt lucky to have been able to coach her this season.
"We took a person who's never thrown before and she made it to state," Clabo said. "As a coach I couldn't ask for more. All I can say is that I was glad to have her this year."
"I was a softball player and I had a great experience in softball," said Rodriguez. "If I could go back, I wouldn't change a thing. I'm happy with everything I've done."
It was also senior Darren Clabo's first trip to state as he competed in the discus. Clabo came into the event with a throw of 152-5 to put him in the middle of the pack. His finals throw of 133-9 fell short of Clabo's lofty expectations.
"I just had a bad day, I choked," Darren Clabo said. "I didn't throw my throw (Saturday). But I sure had fun while I was here."
Warrior boys' head coach Rod Reuer pointed out that experience at state plays a big part in having success. And, with two athletes, Jason Roberts in the long jump and Darren Clabo, having made it to state for the first time, it was difficult to know what to expect.
"It's mixed emotions," Reuer said of how he thought his athletes did. "You're excited to be here and you hope for your best performances. Justin Grunewald performed about as well as he could in the 3200 and the other two fell short. That just comes down to a lack of state meet experience."
The Warriors will return Grunewald and Roberts and Reuer is hoping they will be the building blocks in bringing more individuals to the big show.
"The nice thing about getting an underclassman here is that you can build from that and they stay hungry to get back down here," said Reuer.
Regardless of how the three Warrior boys did at state, Reuer was happy to have been able to watch them compete at the highest level.
"It's a major goal to get here," said Reuer. "We didn't have the caliber of athlete that was assured to be a state placewinner. Luckily, we were able to bring three guys down. We would've liked to bring more but to get here, it's a pretty elite field. You need to appreciate these chances when they come around.
"They were one of 16 athletes in all of the state (in their events). That means there were an awful lot of kids that stayed home."
Boys' finals results
Discus -- 1-Nate Englin (Mounds View) 167-10, 16-Darren Clabo (Brd) 133-9.
Girls' finals results
Shot put -- 1-Liz Podominick (Lakeville) 51-7 1/2, 10-Ashley Rodriguez (Brd) 38-1 1/4.
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