Park Rapids girls track and field team enjoys another successful season
Call it business as usual for the Park Rapids girls track and field team.
Despite having only three seniors, three juniors and four sophomores among the 28 athletes who scored points on varsity, the Panthers put together another successful season. Highlights of this past spring were winning the Section 8A True Team title, repeating as Subsection 8-29A champions for the 12th year in a row, earning runner-up honors at the Section 8A meet and sending five individuals in three events to the state Class A meet.
Senior Lydia Kantonen qualified for state in the 3,200-meter run, junior Jaiden McCollum and freshman Kamree Carlson both qualified for state in the shot put, and McCollum and Carlson joined sophomore Abby Eystad and eighth grader Hannah Morgan on the 4 x 200 relay team that qualified for state. McCollum placed sixth in the shot put, the 4 x 200 relay team placed 14th, Kantonen placed 16th in the 3,200 and Carlson placed 16th in the shot put to cap off another stellar season.
In addition to those five, the Panthers received contributions from seniors Caroline Drury and Katelyn Warmbold; juniors Kennedy Carlson and Tori Hilmanowski; sophomores Coral Johnson, Julia Johnson and Whitney Steffel; freshmen Kayleah Breitweser, Mercedes Forseman, Madeline Guida, Paige Johnson, Emma Miller, Jada Renneberg and Cora Willenbring; eighth graders Savana Damar, Taylor Dravis, Kendra Scholz, Liesel Smee, Ellie Ulvin and Destiny Villarreal; and seventh graders Holly Johnson, Quinn Hunter and Simone Wolff.
The Panthers opened the season by placing eighth out of 15 teams at the Little Amik Invitational at Bemidji State University with 37.50 points. Grand Forks Central claimed the team title in this indoor debut with 113 points.
In the second indoor meet at BSU, Park Rapids claimed runner-up honors with 81 points at the 16-team Aurora Borealis Invitational. Thief River Falls topped the field with 84.50 points. Miller won the 3,200 to account for Park Rapids' lone winning effort.
Kantonen won the 3,200, Morgan took first in the long jump, and the 4 x 400 relay team of HIlmanowski, Kamree Carlson, Holly Johnson and McCollum finished first in the outdoor debut in leading the Panthers to the team title at the 10-team Wadena-Deer Creek Invitational with 138 points.
At the Perham Invitational, the Panthers finished third with 78 points behind winning performances by McCollum in the shot put and Paige Johnson in the high jump. Perham won the team title with 220 points.
Winning efforts by Hilmanowski, Paige Johnson, Renneberg and Kantonen in the 4 x 800 relay; Kantonen in the 3,200; McCollum in the shot put; and Renneberg in the 1,600 led the Panthers to a runner-up showing at the Staples-Motley Invitational. Minnewaska topped the seven-team field with 177 points with Park Rapids following with 151.50 points.
Park Rapids followed with another runner-up finish at the Crookston Invitational as McCollum took first in the shot put and Renneberg took first in the 3,200. Dilworth-Glyndon-Felton tallied 102.50 points while the Panthers accumulated 100.50 points in this 14-team meet.
McCollum's winning effort in the shot put led the Panthers at the Detroit Lakes Invitational. Moorhead topped the seven-team field with 132 points while the Panthers placed seventh with 32 points.
A solid team effort sparked the Panthers to the Section 8A True Team title at Park Rapids. Led by winning efforts by Hilmanowski, Paige Johnson, Breitweser and Kantonen in the 4 x 800 relay and Kantonen in the 3,200 along with runner-up showings by McCollum in the shot put and Paige Johnson in the high jump, the Panthers topped the 17-team field with 966 points. The 4 x 400 relay team of Hilmanowski, Kamree Carlson, Ulvin and McCollum as well as the 4 x 200 relay team of Julia Johnson, Scholz, Ulvin and Eystad also placed second. Roseau was a close second with 931 points.
Kantonen won the title in the 1,600 and McCollum took first in the shot put as the Panthers finished third at the Mid-State Conference meet at Staples with 62 points. Adding runner-up showings were the 4 x 800 relay team of Hilmanowski, Paige Johnson, Renneberg and Kantonen and the 4 x 400 relay team of HIlmanowski, Kamree Carlson, Holly Johnson and McCollum. Paige Johnson also tied for second place in the high jump. Pequot Lakes claimed the team title with 143.50 points in this five-team conference meet.
Kantonen led the field in the 3,200 and McCollum was the runner-up in the shot put as the Panthers placed eighth at the state Class A True Team meet at Stillwater with 277.50 points. Osakis topped the nine-team field with 388.50 points.
Another solid team effort paved the way as the Panthers dominated the Subsection 8-29A meet at Walker by racking up 263 points. Taking first were Kantonen in the 3,200, Drury in the pole vault, McCollum in the shot put and discus, Hilmanowski in the 800, Paige Johnson in the high jump, Renneberg in the 1,600, and Morgan in the 100 and long jump. Also taking first were the 4 x 800 relay team of Hilmanowski, Paige Johnson, Renneberg and Hilmanowski; the 4 x 100 relay team of Morgan, Ulvin, Eystad and Julia Johnson; and the 4 x 400 relay team of Paige Johnson, Kamree Carlson, Holly Johnson and McCollum.
Placing second for the Panthers were the 4 x 200 relay team of Morgan, Eystad, Kamree Carlson and McCollum; Warmbold in the 100 hurdles and long jump; Kamree Carlson in the shot put; Scholz in the 300 hurdles; and Damar in the pole vault. Kennedy Carlson also tied for second in the high jump.
Finishing third were Kennedy Carlson in the 100 hurdles and 300 hurdles, Steffel in the 3,200, Eystad in the 200 and Holly Johnson in the 400. Also advancing to the section meet were Julia Johnson (fourth in the 200), Ulvin (fourth in the 400), Forseman (fourth in the 3,200) and Holly Johnson (fifth in the 100).
Just missing qualifying for the section meet by placing fifth were Eystad in the triple jump, MIller in the 1,60 and Breitweser in the 800. The other subsection competitors were Scholz (sixth in the high jump and eighth in the 200), Warmbold (seventh in the 300 hurdles), Kamree Carlson (seventh in the discus), Hunter (seventh in the 100 hurdles), Guida (seventh in the 1,600), Julia Johnson (eighth in the 100), Smee (eighth in the 800), Wolff (10th in the high jump), Villarreal (14th in the 400), Dravis (14th in the discus) and Willenbring (15th in the shot put).
Qualifying for three events for the state meet wasn't quite enough to help the Panthers defend their section title. Kantonen took first in the 3,200, McCollum and Kamree Carlson went 1-2 in the shot put, and Morgan, Eystad, Kamree Carlson and McCollum took second in the 4 x 200 relay to qualify for state. Those winning efforts led Park Rapids to runner-up honors with 82 points. Pelican Rapids ended the Panthers' seven-year reign as section champs with 82.50 points.
Placing third and just missing state berths were Hilmanowski, Paige Johnson, Renneberg and Kantonen in the 4 x 800 relay; Ulvin, Eystad, Julia Johnson and Morgan in the 4 x 100 relay; and Holly Johnson, Paige Johnson, Kamree Carlson and McCollum in the 4 x 400 relay. Also placing third was Renneberg in the 1,600.
The other Panthers scoring points at the section meet were Drury (fourth in the pole vault), Paige Johnson (fourth in the high jump), Warmbold (sixth in the 100 hurdles, sixth in the triple jump and eighth in the long jump), Kennedy Carlson (sixth in the high jump), and McCollum (seventh in the discus),
Rounding out Park Rapids' section competitors were Morgan (ninth in the long jump and 11th in the 100), Holly Johnson (ninth in the 400 and 13th in the 100), Hilmanowski (12th in the 800), Ulvin (12th in the 400), Steffel (13th in the 3,200), Kennedy Carlson (14th in both the 100 hurdles and 300 hurdles), Damar (tied for 14th in the pole vault) and Eystad (15th in the 200).
McCollum placed in the shot put at state for the second year in a row as the Panthers tied for 55th place in the team standings with 4 points. Minneapolis Edison won the state title with 48 points as 78 teams scored points at the state Class A meet.
Even though the Panthers have three key athletes to replace with the graduation of the three seniors, head coach Corey Hill is expecting another highly successful season from his team next spring.