The Minnewaska girls track and field program has a deep and talented team this season, and never was that more evident than in Stillwater on Saturday.
The Lakers brought home the Class A state true team championship by scoring 573.5 points. Lewiston-Altura was second at 543 and Lanesboro-Fillmore Central was third (504) in the 12-team field.
“It means so much to win a true team championship,” Minnewaska head coach Jennifer Johnsrud said. “It shows our depth in our program, our dedication to track and field, and our will to win. We knew we could compete but are truly honored and ecstatic to have won!”
The Lakers won by having top-10 finishes all over the lineup. Freshman Emily Kaiser won the 100-meter dash (12.95) and was second in the 200 dash (26.77). Junior Ellie Danielson won the 800-meter run in 2:24.93 and the high jump after clearing 5-feet.
The Lakers showed of their versatility in the relays by winning the 4x200 (1:50.53), 4x400 (4:16.59) and 4x800 (10:02.46).
“Our numbers have increased in the last few years,” Johnsrud said about Minnewaska’s program. “With that being said, we have had great leadership from our kids who have participated in those years and unbelievable determination from our younger kids. Some of our young girls have forced everyone to step up their game.”
Johnsrud said it has created a positive competition within the whole team.
Sophomore Kristen Glover is one of those talented young athletes as she finished third in the 400-meter dash (1:01.84) and eighth in the triple jump (31-00.50). Eighth-grader McKenzie Luetmer was fifth in the 400 dash (1:02.23), and fellow eighth-grader Makena Thoen was fifth in the 800-meter run (2:30.58).
Freshman Emma Kovarik was fifth in the 300-meter hurdles (49.64) and eighth in the 100 hurdles (17.87), while sophomore Metaya Jergenson led the throwers with a fifth-place finish in the discus (102-08).
“Our kids work hard together and support each other in season and during the offseason,” Johnsrud said. “We have very good participation in our summer speed and strength program. We recently added back our cross country program. We also have great support from our families. Each little success we have drives our kids to keep working hard and pushes them to compete at a high level. Our depth has come from kids wanting to be a part of that.”
The win at state true team is another confidence-booster for this team as the Lakers now set their sights on placing plenty of athletes into the state meet at Hamline University in early June. The subsection meet for Minnewaska is May 23 at the University of Minnesota-Morris before the Section 6A meet in Fergus Falls at 11 a.m. on May 30. The Lakers advanced 11 kids to last year’s state meet and have high expectations of being well represented again this season.
“We feel we are peaking at the right time of the season, setting many personal bests and winning the West Central Conference and the state true team,” Johnsrud said. “We look forward to putting the puzzle together with our lineup to advance as many kids as possible to the Section 6A meet and then on to Hamline.”
CLASS A STATE TRUE TEAM
MINNEWASKA TOP-10 FINISHES - 100-METER DASH - Emily Kaiser - first, 12.95; Julia Kuehne - seventh, 13.57; 200-METER DASH - Emily Kaiser - second, 26.77; Kuehne - 10th, 27.56; 400 DASH - Kristen Glover - third, 1:01.84; McKenzie Luetmer - fifth, 1:02.23; 800-METER RUN - Ellie Danielson - first, 2:24.93; Makena Thoen - fifth, 2:30.58; 3,200-METER RUN - Sydney Hagen - ninth, 13:04.46; 100-METER HURDLES - Emma Kovarik - eighth, 17.87; 300-METER HURDLES - Kovarik - fifth, 49.64; 4x100 RELAY - third, 54.24; 4x200 RELAY - first, 1:50.53; 4x400 RELAY - first, 4:16.59; 4x800 RELAY - first, 10:02.46; HIGH JUMP - Danielson - first, 5-00; Ava Chevalier - t-sixth, 4-08; POLE VAULT - Stephanie Langman - ninth, 7-06; LONG JUMP - Emily Kaiser - 10th, 15-00.75; TRIPLE JUMP - Kristen Glover - eighth, 31-00.50; DISCUS - Metaya Jergenson - fifth, 102-08