United North Central's Tyler Shepersky and Annika Aho brought home medals from the state Class A track and field meet.
Shepersky won gold medals in the boys 800-meter and 3,200-meter wheelchair races with personal-best times during the first day of competition at Klas Field on the campus of Hamline University in St. Paul on Friday, June 7. Shepersky scored 2 points for the Warriors.
The UNC freshman, who was the only competitor in both events, clocked a 2:13.95 in the 800 race and a 9:25.26 to break the state record in the 3,200 race. Shepersky qualified for state with times of 2:29.10 in the 800 race and 10:31.25 in the 3,200 race at the Section 6A meet.
"Even though Tyler didn't have anyone to race against, I was very impressed with his times," said UNC head coach Tom Smith. "It was a little adrenaline and a fast track."
Aho capped off her senior season by placing fourth in the girls 400-meter dash with a 58.52 for 6 points during the finals on Saturday, June 8. Blake's Robbie Grace took first in 56.31 while Triton's Nell Graham (57.34) and Braham's Hannah Cornelius (58.24) followed.
During the preliminaries on June 7, Aho advanced to the finals by placing fourth in the second heat and sixth overall with a personal-best time of 58.43, which is a school record. Aho entered state as the No. 8 seed out of 16 qualifiers after winning the Section 6A title in 59.71.
"I felt really good about Annika reaching the finals. She is comfortable with the state level of competition," said Smith. "I talked to her before finals and she told me 'I've never been more ready for anything in my life.' Annika is one that will fight for that place and time right down to the finish line. I knew that she would give it her all and she would finish well, but fourth place was a bit of a welcomed surprise. She has brought so much to the program over the years. She has been a great asset to the team, leading by example with a great work ethic. She has (school) records in the 400 and 3,200 and is in the top 10 for the 100, 200, 800, 1,600 and pole vault. Annika will be missed."
Freshman Gabby Hrdlicka failed to advance to the finals in the girls 300-meter hurdles after clocking a 50.46 during the preliminaries on June 7. Hrdlicka finished seventh in the second heat and 15th overall out of 17 qualifiers. Hrdlicka qualified for her first state meet with a runner-up 48.50 at the Section 6A meet. Belle Plaine's Jaylen Struck-Schmitz won the state title in 43.11.
"I thought Gabby did well for her first time at state. She wasn't real happy with her time, but looks at it as a lead to the years to come," said Smith. "She had some great improvements over the year in the 300 hurdles and 100 hurdles. I see her making appearances at state again."
UNC tied for 54th place in the team standings with 6 points. Blake won the state title with 57 points.
400 dash preliminaries: 1, Grace, Blake, 56.56. 2, Graham, Triton, 57.29. 3, Cornelius, Braham, 57.45. 4, Neu, Albany, 57.93. 5, Wiley, Pelican Rapids, 58.38. 6, Aho, United North Central, 58.43. 7, Johnson, Minnehaha Academy, 58.49. 8, Tower, Bigfork, 58.76. 9, VerSteeg, Luverne, 58.91. 10, VanVickle, Pillager, 59.11. 11, Nelson, Plainview, 59.23. 12, Werner, Proctor, 59.61. 13, Munson, Tracy-Milroy, 1:00.02. 14, Danielson, United Clay-Becker, 1:00.16. 15, Becker, Fairmont, 1:00.94. 16, Parrot, Sibley East, 1:02.37.
400 dash finals: 1, Grace, Blake, 56.31. 2, Graham, Triton, 57.34. 3, Cornelius, Braham, 58.24. 4, Aho, United North Central, 58.52. 5, Johnson, Minnehaha Academy, 58.86. 6, Wiley, Pelican Rapids, 59.50. 7, Neu, Albany, 59.52. 8, Tower, Bigfork, 59.96. 9, VerSteeg, Luverne, 1:02.38.
Girls 300 hurdles preliminaries: 1, Struck-Schmitz, Belle Plaine, 44.17. 2, Zinter, Concordia Academy, 44.58. 3, Waletzko, Albany, 45.81. 4, HIndt, Grand Meadow, 45.97. 5, Fultz, Eveleth-Gilbert, 46.13. 6, Feit, Luverne, 46.32. 7, Borowicz, Crookston, 46.70. 8, Breitspreche, Lanesvoro, 46.83. 9, Dimler, Janesville, 47.32. 10, DeQuevedo, Silver Bay, 47.43. 11, Veronen, Lake City, 48.21. 12, Dudley, Nevis, 48.46. 13, Kuechle, Eden Valley-Watkins, 48.82. 14, Schoemate, Blake, 49.25. 15, Hrdlicka, United North Central, 50.46. 16, Ferrell, Luverne, 51.47.
Girls 300 hurdles finals: 1, Struck-Schmitz, Belle Plaine, 43.11. 2, Zinter, Concordia Academy, 43.43. 3, Breitspreche, Lanesboro, 44.91. 4, Hindt, Grand Meadow, 45.36. 5, Fultz, Eveleth-Gilbert, 45.47. 6, Waletzko, Albany, 45.66. 7, Feit, Luverne, 46.75. 8, Borowicz, Crookston, 47.30. 9, Dimler, Janesville, 47.37.