Panthers take another step forward
Cory Hill's long-range goal is to develop the Park Rapids girls track and field team into one of the top teams in Section 8A and the state. The Panthers took another step toward reaching that goal this season. In their 11 meets, the Panthers won ...
Cory Hill's long-range goal is to develop the Park Rapids girls track and field team into one of the top teams in Section 8A and the state.
The Panthers took another step toward reaching that goal this season.
In their 11 meets, the Panthers won four titles, finished second in another meet and had a trio of third-place showings. Highlighting the season were repeating as Sub-section 8-29A champs and qualifying seventh grader Lydia Lutz for the state Class A meet in the 3,200-meter run.
"I thought we had a very successful season. We didn't reach all our goals this year, but we attained most of them," said Hill. "We took a huge step forward this year."
The Panthers opened the season by winning the 18-team Little Amik Invitational at Bemidji State Univer-sity with 71 points.
In their first two outdoor meets, the Panthers finished third at the seven-team Park Rapids Enterprise Invitational with 99 points and claimed runner-up honors at the 12-team Beaver Relays at Bemidji with 124 points. Detroit Lakes won the Enterprise title with 172 points while Hibbing led the field at Bemidji with 139 points.
The Panthers then compiled 114.50 points to win the 10-team Park Rapids American Legion Invi-tational and followed with 130 points to lead the field at the 10-team May Day Invitational at Walker.
Park Rapids closed out the regular season by placing third at the 11-team Pequot Lakes Invitational with 78 points, fifth at the six-team Detroit Lakes Invitational with 44 points, sixth at the 10-team Section 8AA True Team meet at Park Rapids with 290 points, and third at the six-team Mid-State Conference meet with 87 points. Grand Rapids won the title at Pequot Lakes with 231 points, the Lakers took first at Detroit Lakes with 113 points and won the conference title with 191 points, and East Grand Forks won the True Team title with 540 points.
The Panthers repeated as subsection champs by compiling 175 points before settling for 10th place at the section meet with 33.50 points. East Grand Forks ran away with the section title with 133 points. Last year, the Panthers finished in fourth place at the section meet.
Lutz did earn a state berth with a runner-up showing in the 3,200 run in her section debut and ended up placing 14th in her state debut.
"Except for the section meet, we performed better than I expected," said Hill. "Only a handful of teams beat us this year and for Lydia to qualify for state as a seventh grader was quite an accomplishment. Overall I thought we had a good year."
Leading the Panthers this season were the nine individuals who scored at least 100 points this spring. That group featured senior Sarah Guida; juniors Laura Haugland and Tracey Peterson; sophomores Kayla Stursa and Rachel Thelen; freshmen Victoria Lutz, Kyja Penning and Hannah Wolff; and Lydia Lutz.
Also placing consistently were seniors Sarah Ament, Leah Goetz, Danielle Kent and Molly Best; sophomores Ayana Hartman and Alyssa Klingenberg; freshmen Nicole Knott and Shannon Taylor; and eighth graders Tiffany Deitchler and Chelsea Johnson.
In the relays, Haugland, Penning, Stursa and Victoria Lutz ran on nine 4 x 800 units that placed at meets, including six winning efforts. That relay team won the Mid-State title and the subsection title before placing sixth at the section meet.
The Panthers' 4 x 1 relay placed in nine meets with Guida, Goetz, Peterson and Thelen scoring points in six meets, including one first-place effort and a runner-up showing at the conference and subsection meets. Guida, Klingenberg, Peterson and Thelen finished sixth at the section meet.
Park Rapids' 4 x 400 relay team placed in eight meets with Klingenberg, Victoria Lutz, Penning and Wolff placing third at the subsection meet and eighth at the section meet.
The 4 x 200 relay placed in nine meets with Peterson, Goetz, Penning, Wolff, Hartman and Taylor comprising that unit.
Victoria Lutz was named Most Valuable after leading the team with 190 points. In addition to the two relays, Lutz placed in the 3,200 run twice (winning one title) and in the 800 six times (taking first twice, including at the conference meet). Lutz just missed qualifying for state with a third-place showing in the 800 at the section meet.
Penning was second in points with 181 and capped off the season by scoring in four events at both the subsection and section meets. Penning won the subsection title in the pole vault before placing sixth at the section meet and finished third in the 400 at the subsection meet before placing eighth at the section meet. Penning received the team's Rookie of the Year award.
Wolff received one of the team's Coaches Award after finishing third in total points with 153. Wolff scored points in six different events, including four titles in the triple jump. Wolff won the conference title and placed eight other times in the triple jump, four times in the 300 hurdles, twice in the high jump and twice in the long jump. Wolff qualified for the section meet in four events by taking third in the 300 hurdles, third in the triple jump and fourth in the high jump at the subsection meet. At the section meet, Wolff placed fifth in the high jump.
Haugland was fourth in total points with 152 and was named the team's Hardest Worker. Haugland was the subsection champion and conference runner-up in the high jump while placing in that event 10 times. Haugland also scored points in the 3,200 run, 300 hurdles and 4 x 400 relay.
Stursa solidified the distance events by placing in the 800 three times, the 3,200 three times and the 1,600 twice. Stursa qualified for the section meet by taking fourth in the 800 at the subsection meet and ended the year with 121 points to earn a Coaches Award.
In addition to qualifying for state, Lydia Lutz finished sixth in points with 114 in her first varsity season. Lutz won four titles in the 3,200 while placing in five meets and placed in the 1,600 four times, winning one title. Lutz also scored points in the 800, 4 x 400 relay and 4 x 800 relay. Lutz received the team's Newcomer of the Year award.
Thelen developed into one of the team's top sprinters, scoring 107 points in the 100 and sprint relays. Thelen, who took fifth in the 100 at the subsection meet, also placed in the pole vault six times.
Following Thelen with 106 points was Peterson, who solidified the sprint relays. Peterson placed in the 4 x 100 and 4 x 200 relays nine times each and also placed in the 4 x 400 relay.
Guida capped off her senior season by scoring 105 points in the long jump, triple jump and relays. Guida placed in the long jump six times, winning one title, and in the triple jump four times. Guida was a section qualifier by placing third in the long jump and fifth in the triple jump at the subsection meet.
Rounding out the top-10 scoring list was Hartman, who finished with 89 points despite missing the end of the season with an injury. In only five meets, Hartman placed in the 4 x 200 five times, the high jump four times, the 400 twice and the 4 x 200 relay twice.
Goetz ended her senior season with 77 points in the relays. Goetz placed in the 4 x 100 and 4 x 200 six times each and in the 4 x 400 relay once.
Deitchler provided depth in the distance events and tallied 54 points to earn the team's Most Improved award. Deitchler placed in the 3,200 seven times and 1,600 five times and qualified for the section meet in both events by placing third at the subsection meet.
Kent was the Panthers' top performer in the 100 hurdles, placing in that event four times. Kent also placed in the 300 hurdles five times and earned a spot in the section field by placing fifth in the 300 hurdles at the subsection meet. Kent capped off her senior season with 42 points.
Taylor, who also missed part of the season with an injury, compiled 28 points and qualified for the section meet by placing fifth in the long jump. Taylor placed in the 4 x 200 relay three times, the 200 three times and the 100 once.
Best and Ament ended their senior seasons by scoring 24 and 23 points, respectively. Ament placed in the pole vault five times and qualified for the section meet as the subsection runner-up in that event. Best was the Panthers' top thrower, placing in the shot put four times and the discus twice. Best won one title in the shot put and qualified for the section meet in that event with a third-place finish at the subsection meet.
Klingenberg, who missed almost the entire season with an injury, returned to run on the section-qualifying 4 x 100 and 4 x 400 relay teams. Klingenberg also scored points in the 4 x 200 relay to finish the season with 22 points.
Knott and Johnson each scored 19 points this season. Knott qualified for the section meet by placing fourth in the shot put while Johnson advanced in the 3,200 by placing fifth at the subsection meet. Knott scored points in the shot put in three meets and in the discus in two meets while Johnson placed in the 1,600 three times, the 3,200 once and the 4 x 400 relay twice.
Also scoring points on the varsity this season were junior Kaitlyn Nelson (3 points in the 200); sophomore Alexa Zunich-Andersen (5 points in the 4 x 400 relay); freshmen Greta Ertl (5 points in the 4 x 400 relay) and Abby Hanson (3 points in the 1,600); and seventh graders Emily Klingenberg (2 points in the triple jump) and Shannon Thielen (4 points in the 100 hurdles).
"Some injuries affected our outcome at the end of the year. If we would have been healthy, I think one or two of our relays would have qualified for state," said Hill. "We're going to set the standards higher next year. I look for us to win the section title and get more kids and at least two relays to state."
Even though the Panthers graduate five seniors, Hill likes the nucleus the Panthers will return next spring.
"We're definitely going to miss our seniors. They led the program in the direction I want to take it with their dedication and work ethic," said Hill. "We have a lot of talent coming back. If we keep our numbers up and continue to work hard, we can achieve my big dream of winning a state title. I challenged the girls that if they dedicate themselves, we can achieve that goal. We have a good core group of phenomenal athletes coming back. It's going to take a lot of hard work to get there, but I think we can compete at the state level. We're going to be successful in the future, but I'm looking for this group to take things to the next level and take us from being a very good team to being a great team."