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Girls track and field: Cardinals punch a second straight trip to true team state

The Alexandria girls track and field team is all smiles with the Section 8AAA True Team championship trophy from Thursday night in Brainerd. It is the second straight season that the Cardinals have punched a ticket to the true team state meet in Stillwater. (Submitted photo)

One of the truer signs of the state of a program in track and field is how a team does at the section true team meet. In that sense, the Alexandria girls are in good hands after qualifying for their second straight state true team meet.

The Cardinals repeated in the 10-team Section 8AAA True Team meet by racking up 1,060.5 points to hold off second-place St. Michael-Albertville with 1,044. Moorhead rounded out the top three teams with 915.5 points. The Cardinals even won without one of their best athletes as junior Kaye Paschka missed the meet due to an illness.

“This meet truly is a measure of a team’s depth and ability to work together,” Alexandria head coach Meghan Orgeman-Crumb said. “We had setbacks and it was not a perfect meet, but I saw our girls step up. If an athlete’s performance did not go as planned, they rose up and competed even harder to make up for any lost ground. I couldn’t be more proud of this team and inspired by how much heart they pour into each other. We have an outstanding culture that provides the safety to get out of one’s comfort zone and accomplish things that the girls thought once unimaginable.”

Orgeman-Crumb talks frequently about track and field being much more than an individual sport, and the true team format measures that team aspect. Athletes are scored all the way to one point for 30th place and 30 points for first place.

Alexandria proved to be the deepest team in the field. There were nine events where the Cardinals had three athletes finish in the top 15 to rack up big points.

In no place were they more dominant than in the throws. Alexandria finished 1, 2, 3 in the discus as junior McKenzie Duwenhoegger won at 122-06 and Mya Lesnar (118-10) and Hailey Gill (116-06) followed in second and third. In the shot put, it was Duwenhoegger in second (41-01.50), with Lesnar (40-11.25) and Gill (35-09.25) in third and fourth.

“Our throws crew is a group of exceptional athletes that we will continue to talk about for years to come,” Orgeman-Crumb said. “They are talented, strong, hard working, coachable and absolutely dominant in the state. We needed them to come through huge in this meet because we knew that St. Michael-Albertville would likely sweep the 3,200-meter and that they had a slight advantage in the sprints and distance events. They, along with every athlete, were integral parts of the team victory.”

The Cardinals got off to a solid start with a third-place finish in the 4x800 relay from Grace Panther, Lauren Russell, Emma Reineke and Myah Kremer (10:30.15). In the third event, Jacy Roste (17.14) and Sydney Gray (17.33) were first and second in the 100-meter hurdles.

Top-five finishes were prevalent throughout the lineup. Hannah Quitmeyer was fifth in the 100-meter dash in 12.94 seconds before she joined Christina Drown, Addison Rodel and Erika Roderick in taking third in the 4x200 relay (1:50.15).

The 4x100 relay team followed suit in third as Micah Summer, Drown, Anna Doherty and Margaret Shercliffe finished in 52.13 seconds.

Roderick (1:01.66) and Rodel (1:02.32) were third and fourth in the 400-meter dash, and Doherty added a fourth-place finish in the 200 dash (26.81). Sierra Cory paced the Cardinals in the 300-meter hurdles in second place with a time of 50.47 seconds.

In the long distance, it was the Miller sisters racking up big points. Aleah finished fourth in the 3,200-meter run in 11:53.34 and Bethany was fifth (11:56.13). Aleah also joined Rodel, Shercliffe and Roderick in the 4x400-meter relay to take second in 4:13.71. Doherty added a fifth-place finish in the long jump with a leap of 15-11.25 and Abigail Forester and Roste rounded out the top-five finishes by tying for third in the pole vault after clearing nine feet.

Before the meet, Orgeman-Crumb used the analogy of geese flying in a “V” formation with her girls to emphasize how everyone at a true team meet has a vital role in establishing the momentum the team carries forward.

“Our focus on our team every year is competing with each other and for each other,” Orgeman-Crumb said. “We believe that when you are competing for something or someone outside of yourself, incredible things can happen.”  

The Cardinals learned that a year ago when they finished fifth at the 2017 Class AAA state true team meet in what was their first trip there in more than 20 years. They will return to Stillwater to see how they stack up against the top teams in the state on May 18.

“I could not be more proud,” Orgeman-Crumb said. “They are young and still developing athletes. We also lost a lot of points from last year’s seniors and had one athlete out sick (in Paschka) who was positioned to win most, if not all, of the events she was placed in. This win was truly the sum of all of our parts. Every performance mattered and everyone embodied the culture we work to establish on this team.”

Eric Morken

Eric Morken is the sports and outdoor editor at the Echo Press and Osakis Review newspapers in Douglas County, MN. Follow him on Twitter at echo_sports.

(320) 763-1229
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