Panthers turned in another typical track season
Corey Hill wasn't surprised by the success of the Park Rapids girls track and field team this spring.
The Panthers once again won the Subsection 8-29A title, contended for the Section 8A title and sent multiple athletes to the state Class A meet. In other words, it was another typical season on the track for the Panthers.
During the regular season, the Panthers won two meet titles before placing third at the Mid-State Conference meet. Park Rapids won the subsection title for the 13th year in a row and ended up placing fourth at the Section 8A meet, sending five individuals in four events to the state Class A meet.
Of the 46 members on the roster, 32 scored points in a varsity meet with 32 competing at the subsection meet and 16 qualifying for the section meet.
Leading the Panthers this season were seniors Kennedy Carlson, Tori Hilmanowski, Jordan Klemmer, Jaiden McCollum and Karen Valencia Rivera; juniors Coral Johnson, Julia Johnson and Whitney Steffel; sophomores Bridgette Basswood, Kayleah Breitweser, Kamree Carlson, Madeline Guida, Mercedes Forseman, Jess Kaseman, Mary Nichols, Jada Renneberg and Cora Willenbring; freshmen Savana Damar, Taylor Dravis, Hannah Morgan, Kendra Scholz, Liesl Smee and Destiny Villarreal; eighth graders Chelsea Dennis, Marriyam Ejaz, Quinn Hunter, Holly Johnson, Mackenzie Laferriere, Angie Porter and Simone Wolff; and seventh graders Katilina Addison, Olivia Davis, Christina Engst, Coley Girtz, Julia Harmon, Haley Kerr, Morgan Koppelman, Livia Livermore, Aleka London, Natalia Lopez, Brooklyn Partlow, Riley Pike, Morgan Stone, Emma Vrieze and Nadia Yliniemi Hensel. Sophomore Paige Johnson missed the entire season with an injury.
Park Rapids opened the season by placing in the top-four spots in the first three indoor meets at Bemidji State University. The Panthers finished fourth at the 17-team Lions Invitational with 52.50 points as Grand Forks Red River led the field with 146.50 points. At the Little Amik Invitational, the Panthers finished third out of 19 teams with 63 points. Frazee topped the field with 79 points. Park Rapids claimed runner-up honors at the Beaver Relays with 45 points as Pequot Lakes led the 35-team field with 91.50 points. The 4 x 800-meter relay team of Hilmanowski, Renneberg, Lopez and Kaseman took first in that meet.
In their outdoor debut, the Panthers compiled 223 points to capture the title at the eight-team Park Rapids Invitational. Turning in individual winning efforts were McCollum (400 and shot put), Morgan (100) and Scholz (300 hurdles). The Panthers also won all four relays with Hilmanowski, Renneberg, Koppelman and Lopez running in the 4 x 800; McCollum, Morgan, Holly Johnson and Scholz running in the 4 x 200; Klemmer, Julia Johnson, Morgan and Scholz running in the 4 x 100; and McCollum, Kamree Carlson, Holly Johnson and Lopez running in the 4 x 400.
Another dominating performance led the Panthers to the title at the 10-team May Day Invitational at Walker with 171.50 points. Placing first for Park Rapids were the 4 x 800 relay team of Hilmanowski, Renneberg, Kaseman and Lopez; the 4 x 200 relay team of McCollum, Julia Johnson, Morgan and Holly Johnson; the 4 x 100 relay team of Klemmer, Julia Johnson, Morgan and Scholz; and the 4 x 400 relay team of McCollum, Kaseman, Koppelman and Holly Johnson. Also taking first were Klemmer (pole vault), Morgan (100), Scholz (300 hurdles) and Koppelman (400).
McCollum finished first in the shot put and Coral Johnson took first in the pole vault as the Panthers placed third at the 12-team Crookston Invitational at East Grand Forks with 96.50 points. Thief River Falls led the field with 122 points. Moorhead won the team title at the seven-team Detroit Lakes Invitational with 159 points as the Panthers placed sixth with 63 points. McCollum also took first in the shot put at that meet. Park Rapids then placed ninth at the 10-team Section 8AA True Team meet at Fergus Falls with 308 points as Pequot Lakes took first with 501 points. Renneberg won the 3,200 to account for the Panthers' only winning performance.
At the Mid-State Conference meet at Crosby, the Panthers placed third with 134 points to trail Pequot Lakes (199) and Detroit Lakes (174) in this five-team meet. Claiming conference titles were McCollum in the shot put and Morgan in the 100. Julia Johnson, Morgan and Holly Johnson joined McCollum on the winning 4 x 200 relay team and joined Scholz on the winning 4 x 100 relay unit.
Nine winning efforts and three runner-up finishes led the Panthers to the subsection title at Lake of the Woods with 210.50 points. McCollum took first in the shot put and discus while joining Julia Johnson, Morgan and Holly Johnson on the winning 4 x 200 relay team and Julia Johnson, Kamree Carlson and Holly Johnson on the winning 4 x 400 relay unit. The 4 x 800 relay team of Hilmanowski, Kaseman, Renneberg and Koppelman took first while Julia Johnson, Morgan, Scholz and Holly Johnson won the 4 x 100 relay. Also placing first for the Panthers were Kennedy Carlson in the high jump, Klemmer in the pole vault, Morgan in the long jump and Scholz in the 300 hurdles. Adding runner-up showings were Morgan in the 100, Kamree Carlson in the 400 and Holly Johnson in the pole vault.
Also qualifying for the section meet were Hilmanowski in the 800 (third), Julia Johnson in the triple jump (third), Hunter in the 100 hurdles (third), Smee in the 1,600 (third), Koppelman in the 400 (third), Scholz in the 100 (fourth), Lopez in the 800 (fourth), Renneberg in the 3,200 (fourth) and Coral Johnson in the pole vault (tied for fifth).
The other Park Rapids athletes who competed at the subsection meet were
Kaseman (fifth in the 800), Hunter (fifth in the 300 hurdles and sixth in the high jump), Steffel (fifth in the 3,200), Vrieze (fifth in the 1,600), Breitweser (sixth in the 1,600), Forseman (sixth in the 3,200), Kamree Carlson (seventh in the 200), Engst (seventh in the 100 hurdles and seventh in the 300 hurdles), Pike (seventh in the 400, seventh in the triple jump and ninth in the long jump), Yliniemi Hensel (eighth in the 200 and eighth in the long jump), Wolff (eighth in the high jump and ninth in the triple jump), Willenbring (eighth in the discus and ninth in the shot put), Davis (ninth in the 100 and 10th in the 200), Kennedy Carlson (10th in the 100 hurdles) and Dravis (10th in the shot put and 18th in the discus).
Highlighting the season was having McCollum, Julia Johnson, Morgan, Scholz and Holly Johnson qualify for the state Class A meet. McCollum repeated as the section champion in the shot put and claimed runner-up honors in the discus. McCollum, Julia Johnson, Morgan and Holly Johnson took second in the 4 x 200 relay while the Johnsons, Morgan and Scholz took second in the 4 x 100 relay. Those four efforts helped the Panthers place fourth with 64 points. Frazee won the section title with 77 points while Crookston (76) and Pelican Rapids (74) followed. Park Rapids won seven straight Section 8A titles before placing second last season.
Klemmer just missed advancing to state by placing third in the pole vault while the 4 x 800 relay team of Hilmanowski, Renneberg, Koppelman and Lopez as well as the 4 x 400 relay team of McCollum, Julia Johnson, Kamree Carlson and Holly Johnson placed fourth. Scholz also placed fourth in the 300 hurdles.
Also placing for the Panthers at the section meet were Kamree Carlson in the 400 (sixth); Kennedy Carlson in the high jump (sixth); Holly Johnson in the pole vault (seventh); Renneberg in the 3,200 (eighth); and Morgan in the long jump (eighth). The other competitors at the section meet were Morgan (ninth in the 100), Coral Johnson (ninth in the pole vault), Scholz (10th in the 100), Julia Johnson (10th in the triple jump), Koppelman (14th in the 400), Hunter (14th in the 100 hurdles), Lopez (14th in the 800), Hilmanowski (15th in the 800) and Smee (15th in the 1,600).
At the state meet, McCollum placed 14th in the discus and 15th in the shot put while both relays placed 14th during preliminaries to miss out on the finals. This marked McCollum's fourth trip to state. McCollum (who holds the school record in the shot put at 41 feet, 9 inches) finished fourth in 2016 with a throw of 40-0.25 and sixth last season with a throw of 39-11 to earn all-state honors. This was McCollum's fourth state trip in the 4 x 200 relay. The Panthers finished 13th in 1:48.90 in 2015, 10th in 1:48.13 in 2016 and 14th in 1:50.45 last season in that relay. Morgan also was a member of last year's 4 x 200 relay team.
Even with the graduation of the five seniors, Hill is counting on the Panthers to once again repeat as subsection champs, contend for the section title and send multiple athletes to state in 2019.