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Looking to lead the Park Rapids girls track and field team this season are seniors (from left) Jenna Polley, Emily Klingenberg, Danielle Hill, Bonnie Baumgartner, Summer Ellefson, Lydia Lutz and Shelby Pierce.

Girls track team expects to repeat as section champs, contend at state

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sports Park Rapids, 56470
Park Rapids Minnesota PO Box 111 56470

Depth was a main reason the Park Rapids girls track and field team enjoyed a very successful season last spring.

Depth could be the key in leading the Panthers to an even more successful season this spring.

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Despite not having a senior on the roster last season, the Panthers defended the Section 6A True Team title with 902 points, finished fourth at the state Class A True Team meet with 308 points, earned runner-up honors at the Mid-State Conference meet with 114.50 points, captured the Subsection 8-29A title for the sixth year in a row with 233.33 points and repeated as the Section 8A champions with 87 points. Park Rapids capped off the season by scoring 5 points at the state Class A meet.

With almost the entire roster returning, head coach Corey Hill is counting on the Panthers to improve on those performances this season.

"We have high expectations," said Hill. "We have been building for this year for over seven years now. This is the best-assembled team we have had the honor to coach. We are excited because we have this whole team back along with several new additions that will benefit the team. It's hard not to be excited about that."

Leading the Panthers this season are the five athletes who qualified for last year's state meet: seniors Summer Ellefson, Lydia Lutz and Shelby Pierce and juniors Grace Bateman and Lora Remus.

Ellefson, Lutz, Pierce and Remus qualified for state in the 4 x 800-meter relay by finishing second at the section meet with a state-qualifying time and followed by placing sixth at the state meet. Ellefson, Pierce and Bateman ran on the 4 x 400 relay team that won the section title and placed ninth at the state meet. Ellefson was the section champion in the 400 dash and placed 15th at the state meet. Pierce was the section runner-up in the 800 run and took 14th at the state meet. Bateman won the section title in the 300 hurdles and placed 17th at the state meet.

That 4 x 800 relay team also won the conference and subsection titles while Ellefson, Pierce and Remus ran on the 4 x 800 relay that won the section True Team title. Ellefson and Pierce ran on the 4 x 400 relay team that took second at the section True Team meet while Ellefson, Pierce and Bateman ran on the state True Team and conference runner-up 4 x 400 relay team. Lutz, Ellefson and Pierce ran on the subsection champion 4 x 400 relay team.

In addition to those five, eight other athletes return who scored at least 100 points last season. That list features seniors Emily Klingenberg and Jenna Polley; sophomores Mady Vaudrin, Justine Rittgers and Samantha Harshman; freshman Hannah Gorder and Megan Grimes; and eighth grader Abby Mueller.

Klingenberg ran on the 4 x 400 relay that took second at the section True Team meet while Polley, Bateman, Rittgers and Gorder ran on the 4 x 100 relay team that won the title at the section True Team meet. Bateman, Polley, Vaudrin and Gorder comprised the subsection champion 4 x 100 relay team. Klingenberg, Vaudrin, Gorder and Mueller ran on the 4 x 200 relay team that took third at the section True Team meet while Klingenberg, Grimes and Mueller ran on the 4 x 200 relay team that placed third at the subsection meet.

Bateman led the Panthers with 440 points last season. Bateman finished first in the 300 hurdles and second in the pole vault at both the section True Team and subsection meets, was the runner-up in the pole vault at the conference meet and finished third in the pole vault at the section meet.

Ellefson was second in points with 359 and was the champion in the 400 at the section True Team, conference and subsection meets.

Pierce followed in points with 308 and was the champion in the 800 at the section True Team, conference and subsection meets and placed third in that event at the state Class A True Team meet.

Vaudrin compiled 285 points last season and qualified for the section meet by placing second in the 100 and 200 at the subsection meet. Vaudrin finished fourth in the 100 and seventh in the 200 at the section meet and was the runner-up in the 100 at the state True Team meet while taking third in the 100 at the section True Team and conference meets.

Klingenberg scored 248 points last season and was a section qualifier in the 400 and triple jump where she placed sixth and 13th, respectively. Klingenberg finished third in the triple jump and fifth in the 400 at the subsection meet.

Gorder followed with 246 points and advanced to the section meet by placing fifth in the 100 at the subsection meet. Gorder finished 12th in that race at the section meet.

Lutz won the 1,600 at the section True Team, conference, state True Team and subsection meets before placing fourth at the section meet. Lutz also was the champion in the 3,200 at the section and state True Team meets and ended the season with 229 points.

Remus compiled 184 points and finished third in the 3,200 at the section True Team meet and third in the 800 at the conference and subsection meets. Remus finished eighth in the 800 at the section meet.

Rittgers ended the season with 147 points after placing sixth in both the 100 hurdles and 300 hurdles at the subsection meet.

Grimes qualified for the section meet by winning the 100 hurdles and placing third in the 300 hurdles and high jump at the subsection meet. Grimes finished sixth in the 100 hurdles, tied for 10th in the high jump and finished 10th in the 300 hurdles at the section meet to end the year with 133.50 points.

Polley compiled 128 points last season and finished seventh in the 100 at the subsection meet.

Mueller scored 102 points and qualified for the section meet by placing fifth in the 200 at the subsection meet. Mueller finished fifth in that race at the section meet.

Harshman advanced to the section meet in both throwing events after placing second in the discus and third in the shot put at the subsection meet. Harshman, who scored 101 points last season, finished 12th in both events at the section meet.

Also competing at the section meet last season were juniors Katherine Erickson, Kaylee Hilmanowski and Tori Lauderbaugh, and eighth graders Sarah Harshman, Heidi Lageson, Megan Olson and Tayah Otterness.

Also scoring points for the Panthers last season were senior Danielle Hill, juniors Jordan Bynum and Jill Simpson, sophomores Ellen Hoffman and Charity Ridlon, freshman Bria Wolff, and eighth grader Maya Johnson.

Hilmanowski scored 62 points last season and ended the season by placing fourth at the subsection meet and 14th at the section meet in the 1,600.

Lauderbaugh finished fifth in the 100 hurdles and sixth in the high jump at the subsection meet and 14th in the 100 hurdles at the section meet in tallying 56.50 points.

Hoffman scored 56 points and placed seventh in the pole vault at the subsection meet.

Erickson ran on the 4 x 800 relay team that won the section True Team title and scored 53 points last season. Erickson placed third in the 1,600 run at the subsection meet and ninth at the section meet.

Sarah Harshman finished third in the discus at the conference meet and fifth in that event at the subsection meet to qualify for the section meet. Harshman finished 10th in the discus at the section meet to finish the season with 44 points.

Hill scored 35 points and ended the season by placing seventh in both the long jump and shot put at the subsection meet.

Lageson was the subsection runner-up in the 3,200 run and finished fifth in that event at the section meet to end the season with 34 points.

Otterness scored 26 points and qualified for the section meet in the 800 by placing fifth at the subsection meet. Otterness finished 11th in that race at the section meet.

Olson finished third at the subsection meet and seventh at the section meet in the 3,200 to end the year with 22 points.

Wolff scored 11 points last season and finished eighth in the triple jump at the subsection meet.

Bynun (6), Johnson (4), Simpson (2) and Ridlon (1) combined to score 13 points last season. Ridlon tied for eighth place in the high jump at the subsection meet.

Also looking to contribute this season are senior Bonnie Baumgartner; junior Tonya Melott; sophomore Katherine Spears and Kayla Johnk; freshman Makenna Persing; eighth graders Alexandra Nessman, Ava Mart, Bailee Hofford, Emma Ellefson and Paige Hill; and seventh graders Caroline Drury, Diona Schultz, Elizabeth Bradt, Ellery Overmyer, Haley MacPherson, Jasmine Cease, Julia Smith, Katelynn Warmbold, Madison Steffel, Rachel Palmer and Sarah Gorder.

"We have a lot of talent that is spread out in many events," said Hill. "We have a goal to take all four relays and several individuals to state. We know that it will take a lot of hard work to accomplish this. We have set our sights high, but realize that it all comes down to hard work, team work and preparation to succeed."

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