Girls track team accomplishes goals
When Corey Hill became the head coach of the Park Rapids girls track and field team in 2004, his long-range goal was to build the Panthers into one of the premier teams in the state.
That goal was accomplished this spring.
During the first six meets, the Panthers won four titles and finished second the other two times. Park Rapids then won the Section 6A True Team title and finished fifth at the state Class A True Team meet. The Panthers followed a runner-up finish at the Mid-State Conference meet by winning the Subsection 8-29A title for the fifth year in a row. The season ended on a high note as the Panthers won the Section 8A title for the first time since 1995 before tying for 16th place by placing in three events at the state Class A meet.
Senior Victoria Lutz; and sophomores Lydia Lutz, Summer Ellefson and Shelby Pierce capped off the season by placing at the state meet. Those four teamed up to break the school record and finish second in the 4 x 800-meter relay. Victoria Lutz placed sixth in the 800 run and Lydia Lutz finished seventh in the 1,600 run. Eighth grader Mady Vaudrin also qualified for state, finishing 21st in the 100 dash.
The Panthers opened the indoor season by taking runner-up honors at the Little Amik I Invitational and winning the title at the Little Amik II Invitational at Bemidji State University. Bagley/Fosston won the season-opening meet with 87 points while the Panthers were second in the 17-team Little Amik I meet with 78 points. The Panthers then topped the 23-team Little Amik II field with 79 points.
In the outdoor debut at Perham, the Panthers compiled 84.50 points to finish second out of 10 teams. Perham led the way with 113 points.
The Panthers followed by claiming titles at the next three meets. Park Rapids tallied 128 points to lead the way at the nine-team Park Rapids Invitational and compiled 152 points to lead the way at the 10-team Pequot Lakes Invitational. Park Rapids then scored 138 points to lead the pack at the nine-team Walker-Hackensack-Akeley Invitational.
It took a total team effort for the Panthers to fulfill their first goal of the season by winning the Section 6A True Team title at Glyndon. The Panthers accumulated 905 points to edge Breckenridge's 902 total. At the state Class A True Team meet, the Panthers finished fifth with 313 points. Luverne led the nine-team field with 428 points.
Park Rapids claimed runner-up honors at the Mid-State Conference meet with 129.50 points. Detroit Lakes took first out of the six teams with 205.50 points.
The Panthers peaked at the end of the season by winning the subsection title with 242.50 points and capturing the section title with 88.50 points. Bagley/Fosston took second at both meets with 145 points at the subsection meet and 77 points at the section meet. Park Rapids then placed in three events and scored 17 points at the state Class A meet. Luverne captured the state Class A title with 54 points.
One of the keys to the Panthers' success was having a talented and deep roster. A total of 22 athletes qualified for the section meet with 15 scoring points.
In addition to the five state qualifiers, also advancing to the section meet were seniors Heather Goodwater, Nikki Knott, Kyja Penning, Shannon Taylor and Hannah Wolff; junior Sophie Shogren; sophomores Mandy Schirmers and Shannon Thielen; freshmen Grace Bateman, Katherine Erickson, Kaylee Hilmanowski and Morgan Olson; and eighth graders Samantha Harshman, Ellen Hoffman, Megan Norby, Alex Pedersen, Justine Rittgers and Charity Ridlon.
Also contributing this season were sophomores Hannah Fischer, Danielle Hill and Jenna Polley; freshmen Jessi Andersen, Emily Creager, Beth Klein, Tori Lauderbaugh, Jeni Simpson, Jill Simpson and Alayna Young; eighth graders Crysta Berens, Alyssa Day, Molly Drury, Kayla Johnk, Camryn Knott, Christina Mackley and Katy Spears; and seventh graders Megan Grimes, Hannah Gorder, Amy Klein, Morgan Knott, Lauren Rossman and Bria Wolff.
At the Section 6A True Team meet, Victoria Lutz, Shogren, Pierce and Ellefson won the 4 x 800 relay; Victoria Lutz, Shogren, Schirmers and Ellefson won the 4 x 400 relay; Taylor, Vaudrin, Rittgers and Bateman won the 4 x 100 relay; Victoria Lutz won the 800; Lydia Lutz won the 1,600 and 3,200; Ellefson took second in the 400; and Bateman took second in the 300 hurdles. Also helping the Panthers qualify for state were Goodwater (100 hurdles), Nikki Knott (discus and shot put); Penning (4 x 200 relay and pole vault); Taylor (4 x 200 relay, 4 x 100 relay, 200 and long jump); Hannah Wolff (high jump, 200 and triple jump); Pierce (800); Olson (3,200); Norby (4 x 200 relay and triple jump); Vaudrin (100 and 200); Rittgers (300 hurdles); Polley (100); Hill (long jump); Young (shot put); Harshman (discus); Hilmanowski (1,600); Bateman (pole vault); Fischer (4 x 200 relay); Thielen (100 hurdles); and Lauderbaugh (high jump).
At the state Class A True Team meet, Lydia Lutz won the 1,600 and 3,200 while Victoria Lutz took second in the 1,600. The 4 x 800 relay team also took second while the 4 x 400 relay team finished third.
The Panthers finished first in eight events at the Mid-State Conference meet. Earning individual all-conference honors with winning performances were Nikki Knott (discus), Victoria Lutz (800), Lydia Lutz (3,200), Hoffman (pole vault), Ellefson (400) and Bateman (300 hurdles). The 4 x 800 relay team of Victoria Lutz, Shogren, Lydia Lutz and Pierce as well as the 4 x 400 relay team of Victoria Lutz, Hannah Wolff, Schirmers and Ellefson also took first. Adding runner-up showings were Penning (pole vault) and Pierce (800).
A dominating performance led the Panthers to their fifth straight subsection title.
Earning individual subsection titles were Goodwater (100 hurdles), Nikki Knott (discus and shot put), Victoria Lutz (800), Lydia Lutz (1,600), Olson (3,200), Vaudrin (100) and Bateman (300 hurdles). The 4 x 800 relay team of Victoria Lutz, Shogren, Lydia Lutz and Pierce also finished first. Placing second were the 4 x 100 relay team of Penning, Taylor, Vaudrin and Bateman and the 4 x 400 relay team of Hannah Wolff, Lydia Lutz, Schirmers and Ellefson. Wolff (high jump), Pierce (800), Rittgers (300 hurdles), Hoffman (pole vault), Ellefson (400), Hilmanowski (3,200) and Thielen (100 hurdles) also finished second.
Also advancing to the section meet were the 4 x 200 relay team of Penning, Taylor, Hannah Wolff and Vaudrin (third); Taylor in the 100 (fifth); Shogren in the 800 (third); Erickson in the 1,600 (fourth); Norby in the triple jump (third); Harshman in the shot put (fourth); Hoffman in the 400 (fifth); Bateman in the pole vault (third); Pedersen in the 100 hurdles (third); and Ridlon in the 3,200 (fifth).
The other subsection competitors included Goodwater (300 hurdles), Penning (200 and pole vault), Taylor (long jump), Norby (200), Polley (100 and 200), Hill (long jump), Grimes (high jump), Harshman (discus), Fischer (triple jump), Pedersen (400, long jump and triple jump), Lauderbaugh (high jump), Camryn Knott (discus) and Jill Simpson (1,600).
Advancing to the state meet with winning times at the Section 8A meet were Victoria Lutz in the 800, Lydia Lutz in the 1,600, and the 4 x 800 relay team of Victoria Lutz, Lydia Lutz, Pierce and Ellefson. The 4 x 800 relay team clocked a 9:31.62 to break the school record of 9:41.86. Vaudrin also advanced to state with a runner-up finish in the 100.
Also scoring points at the section meet were Goodwater (eighth in the 100 hurdles), Nikki Knott (sixth in the shot put), Shogren (sixth in the 800), Pierce (third in the 800), Hoffman (tied for fourth in the pole vault), Ellefson (third in the 400), Hilmanowski (seventh in the 3,200) and Bateman (fourth in the 300 hurdles and seventh in the pole vault). The 4 x 400 relay team of Lydia Lutz, Pierce, Schirmers and Ellefson just missed a state berth by finishing second. The 4 x 100 relay team of Penning, Taylor, Bateman and Vaudrin as well as the 4 x 200 relay team of Penning, Taylor, Hannah Wolff and Vaudrin finished fourth.
At the state meet, the 4 x 800 relay team of Victoria Luz, Lydia Lutz, Pierce and Ellefson finished second with a 9:29.44, which broke the school record. Kasson-Mantorville defended the state title by breaking the state Class A record with a 9:22.39. Lydia Lutz took sixth in the 800 and Victoria Lutz placed seventh in the 1,600 as the Panthers had their best showing at state since placing ninth with 24 points in 1998.
Victoria Lutz was named the Panthers' MVP. During the season, Lutz won seven titles in the 4 x 800 relay, six titles in the 800, five titles in the 4 x 400 relay, one title in the 1,600 and one title in the 4 x 200 relay.
Lydia Lutz won seven titles in the 4 x 800 relay, five titles in the 800, five titles in the 1,600, one title in the 800 and one title in the 4 x 400 relay. Lutz received the Hardest Worker award.
Taylor, who ran on two winning 4 x 100 relay teams and one winning 4 x 200 relay team during the season, was named the Panthers' Most Dedicated.
Ellefson, who ran on four winning 4 x 800 and 4 x 400 relay teams and took first in the 400 two times, was named the team's Newcomer of the Year.
Bateman, who won three titles in the 300 hurdles and ran on two winning 4 x 200 relays and one winning 4 x 100 relay, was named the Rookie of the Year.
Rittgers, who ran on two winning 4 x 200 relays, received Most Improved honors.
Receiving Coaches Awards were Hannah Wolff (who ran on four winning 4 x 400 relay teams and two winning 4 x 800 relay teams and took first in the triple jump in one meet), Pierce (who ran on six winning 4 x 800 relay teams) and Vaudrin (who ran on two winning 4 x 100 relay teams and one winning 4 x 200 relay team).
Goodwater (who won three titles in the 100 hurdles) and Nikki Knott (who won three titles in the discus and one title in the shot put) received Spirit Awards.
Also taking first multiple times during the season were Penning (twice in the pole vault), Shogren (six times in the 4 x 800 relay and twice in the 4 x 400 relay), Schirmers (three times in the 4 x 800 relay) and Olson (twice in the 3,200).