BLAINE -- A warm, sunny day has been as rare this track and field season as a sighting of Bigfoot. If it wasn't 40 degrees and chilly this spring it was windy and raining.
James Strand of Brainerd and Jonathan Stoltman of Little Falls took advantage of the warm, humid temperatures that reached close to 80 degrees and turned in big times in Friday's Class 2A track and field meet at the National Sports Center.
Strand posted a personal-best time of 40.15 to place fourth in the 300-meter hurdle prelims and advance to Saturday's finals.
In the 800 run Stoltman set a Flyers school record with a time of 1:56.91, placing seventh in the prelims and moving him into the finals.
Strand was seeded 13th heading into the prelims, but the junior proved that seedings mean nothing. By the first hurdle Strand caught Tartan's Andrew Duistman. When he reached the second hurdle he passed Joe Udvari of Woodbury. After that it was sprint to the finish.
"I wanted to stay close to the edge during the race," Strand said. "The last length of the race I was even so I knew I had to turn on the gas and get after it. I was nervous for this race and I knew I shouldn't be. It's nice to know that I beat seven other guys to get to the finals."
Photo by John Pedersen
Crosby-Ironton's Kim Beaman ran through the rain during Friday's Class 1A 800-meter run. Beaman qualified for the final with a time of 2:20.32.
Being seeded lucky 13 was a big motivation factor for Strand.
He wanted to prove to the rest of the field he belonged and qualify for his second straight finals heat of his career.
"James runs his best when people are looking past him," Warriors hurdles coach Toni Balsley said. "He doesn't like to be beaten so to have other people seeded higher than him is a huge motivator. He thrives in those situations."
Stoltman, meanwhile, thrived in his heat of the 800. The senior, who was seeded 11th, capitalized on a fast heat to turn in the fifth-fastest time on his heat and seventh-fastest time overall.
"I just wanted to go out and stick with the guys and then the last lap let them bring me along and carry me to the finish," Stoltman said. "I expected a fast pace but I just didn't know where I'd fit in with that pace."
Another Flyer, LaNika Scepureck, turned in a solid performance and went home with a medal. Scepureck, a senior, tied Jessica Butler of Grand Rapids for seventh place in the high jump with a leap of 5-2. Brainerd's Ally Hartje also competed in the high jump, finishing 13th with a jump of 5-0.
Brainerd's Claire Northway and Jenni Beilke made their state debuts Friday. Northway knocked 22/100ths of a second off her seed time to finish at 15.81, placing her sixth in her heat and 12th overall. Beilke placed 12th in the 100 dash with a time of 12.90 and tied for 13th in the 200 dash with a time of 26.38.
Just getting to state was an accomplishment in itself for Northway, who battled injuries much of the year and competed in only six meets this season.
"I got it into my head that my season was over," Northway said of being sidelined. "The coaches helped me out and I realized I had a shot at state at subsections. This was a good way to end it, given my track record."
For Beilke, running from behind in the 100 dash was a difficult adjustment to make. This season she had won the 100 dash in every meet except two.
"I struggled in the 100 being behind," Beilke said. "That was something new for me. But after the 100 I was prepared better for the 200 and that race went much better. I didn't even make it to sections in the 200 last year so to run two events at state was fun."
Class 2A boys' preliminary results
300 hurdles -- 1-Rupert Bannerman-Thompson (Roseville) 38.96, 4-James Strand (Brd) 40.15
800 run -- 1-Dey Chak Wuol (Mankato West) 1:55.59, 7-Jonathan Stoltman (Little Falls) 1:56.91
Class 2A girls' preliminary results
100 hurdles -- 1-Alicia Rue (Robbinsdale Armstrong) 14.76, 12-Claire Northway (Brd) 15.81
100 dash -- 1-Kadeshia Fortune (Mpls Washburn) 12.16, 12-Jenni Beilke (Brd) 12.90
200 dash -- 1-Sade Pollard (St. Paul Harding) 24.50, tie-13-Beilke (Brd) 26.38
High jump -- 1-Tressa Beckel (Waseca) 5-8, tie-7-LaNika Scepureck (Little Falls) 5-2, 13-Ally Hartje (Brd) 5-0
Next meet -- Class 2A finals at the National Sports Center, Blaine, Saturday.
TROY GUNDERSON can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or 855-5865.
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