Track and Field: Park Rapids boys earn state medals in 3 events
The Panthers reach the podium in the 4 x 800-meter relay, shot put and discus at the Class A meet.
ST. MICHAEL – Half of the members of the Park Rapids boys track and field team brought home medals from the state Class A meet at St. Michael-Albertville High School, which was held on Thursday (June 9) and Friday (June 10).
The Panthers qualified 12 boys in eight events with six of those reaching the finals in three events during the two-day state meet.
Junior Luke Hartung earned the team’s first medal on Thursday by placing eighth in the shot put with a throw of 48 feet, 11 ½ inches. Hartung opened with a throw of 47-5 before following with his best throw of the day. In his third attempt during the preliminaries, Hartung had a throw of 47-8 ¾. In the finals, Hartung had throws of 47-2 ¾, 47-1 and 45-9 ½. Hartung was the No. 12 seed out of 17 qualifiers after winning the Section 8A title with a throw of 47-5. Tracy-Milroy’s Tony Nelson won the state title with a throw of 57-3.
Junior Eli Bervig (2:00.75 split), sophomore Noah Huot (2:03.71), and seniors Parker Harmon (2:05.91) and Kaleb Stearns (2:04.40) opened the finals on Friday by placing third in the 4 x 800-meter relay with a time of 8:14.77. St. Cloud Cathedral took first in 8:07.05 while Lanesboro-Fillmore Central-Mabel-Canton was second in 8:10.64. The Panthers entered state as the No. 4 seed after winning the Section 8A title in 8:24.46. Bervig and Stearns were members of last year’s state champion 4 x 800 relay team that clocked a school record time of 8:12.86.
Tristan Hill capped off his senior season by placing seventh in the discus with a throw of 150-2 on Friday. Hill opened with a throw of 135-6 before throwing 150-2 on his next two attempts to qualify for the finals. Hill’s final three throws went 140-7, 139-1 and 146-2. Hill, who placed 11th with a throw of 140-8 at last year’s state meet, was the No. 9 seed out of 17 qualifiers. Maple River’s Ethan Fischer won the state title at 191 feet.
Those finishes gave Park Rapids 13 points to tie for 27th place in the team standings. Nova Classical Academy won the state title with 47.5 points as Perham was second with 47 points as 80 teams scored points.
“We had three events reach the podium,” said Park Rapids head coach Andrew Lachowitzer. “Luke was at least 75 pounds smaller than any other thrower, but that didn't stop him from competing with the top in the state and throwing his personal best en route to him reaching the podium. Tristan has been battling a torn labrum all season, but he wasn't going to be denied getting on the podium as a senior. He threw his best distance of the season and was able to end his career as one of the best throwers in the state. Finally, our 4 x 800 team placed third. I couldn't be more proud of their effort. We faced some very tough teams and it was a fun race to watch. They had high hopes to repeat as champs and they ended up coming up just short, but to be one of the top teams in the state is something to be very proud of.”
Others miss qualifying for finals
ST. MICHAEL – The Panthers missed out on advancing to the finals and placing in their other five events.
In the finals of the 3,200 on Thursday, Huot placed 11th in 9:58.53 and junior Blaine Hensel finished 16th in 10:46.63. Nova Classical Academy’s Finn McCormick led the 16-runner field in 9:27.20. Huot was the No. 9 seed after winning the Section 8A title in 10:11.87 while Hensel was the No. 16 seed with a section runner-up time of 10:28.15.
Freshman Ephraim Bervig placed 16th in the 1,600 final on Friday with a time of 4:49.07. Bervig entered his first state meet as the No. 16 seed out of 17 qualifiers with a section runner-up time of 4:42.71. Perham’s Jacob McCleary led the field in 4:21.12.
Eli Bervig failed to advance to the finals in the 800 after placing 12th during Thursday’s preliminaries in 2:01.22. Bervig was the No. 14 seed out of 17 qualifiers with a winning time of 2:02.78 at the section meet. McCleary went 1:55.03 to win the state title.
Park Rapids’ other two relay teams also missed advancing to the finals.
Eighth grader Jaydon Walen, senior Logan Jackson, junior Cameron Runyan and Hill finished 12th in the 4 x 100 relay during Thursday’s preliminaries with a 45.43. That relay unit entered state as the No. 11 seed out of 16 qualifying teams with a section runner-up time of 45.08. Minneapolis North won the state title in 42.57.
In the 4 x 400 relay, Hartung, Eli Bervig, senior Sam Warne and Stearns placed 12th in 3:35.37 during Thursday’s preliminaries. That relay team finished second at the section meet in 3:38.82 to enter state as the No. 16 seed out of 16 teams. St. Cloud Cathedral won the state title in 3:27.69.
“I thought the boys competed very well at state,” said Lachowitzer. “Having so many underclassmen making it to state is a great experience for our guys. The state meet is like nothing most athletes will ever see until they make it. Literally thousands of fans pack the stands and the atmosphere is just electric, so getting there and getting to experience it will give them a lot more confidence when we compete to get back there next year. It was a fun way to cap off the season.”