Section 6A in track and field features 29 programs. That means stiff competition to earn entries into the state meet, and the Osakis boys and girls were able to secure a few of those spots from two athletes.
Seniors Elizabeth Pahl and Jacob Backes both earned two entries into the state meet that will be run at Hamline University June 7-8.
Pahl is going back to Hamline in both of the shot put and discus. She was second in both to Desera Engholm of Pequot Lakes. Pahl’s throw in the shot put (40-08) and discus (127-10) both exceeded the state qualifying distance standard.
“Elizabeth threw very well,” Osakis head coach Lee VanNyhuis said. “She qualified by distance in both events in preliminaries. She had her career-best throw in the shot, and had a very good day in discus. She puts so much into preparation. It's good to see all that hard work pay off.”
Backes qualified for state in both the pole vault and 300-meter hurdles. He won the pole vault by clearing 13-feet, 6-inches. Backes also took second in the 300 hurdles with a time of 41.13, behind only Nate Wosmek of Pine River-Backus at 40.83. Backes bettered his own school records in both the pole vault and 300 hurdles.
“Jacob ended up coming from behind and barely beating (Camden) Arndt (of Morris Area),” VanNyhuis said. “I'm not sure if Jacob has ever beat him before. The PR-B hurdler was interfered with and had a re-run by himself, and ended up winning it. It was a fun race to watch.
“Jacob’s been vaulting really well in practice. He's getting his poles figured out. I wouldn't be surprised if he goes over 14 feet at state.”
The strength and depth of the Section 6 field was demonstrated by the fact that no other Osakis relays or individuals earned a spot at state. The Silverstreaks are always well represented in St. Paul, and they posted other good times in events that did not make the cut.
The girls 4x100 (Tessa Stanek, Makenzie Lien, Lauren Scherr, Tianna Stanek) and 4x200 (Tessa Stanek, Makenzie Lien, Kianna Kendall, Tianna Stanek) relays both finished third in times of 51.58 and 1:49.20, respectively.
“Historically, those times would get us through most years,” VanNyhuis said. “I thought the handoffs were as good as they have been all season. Just really good competition this year.”
It is the first time since 2008 that the Osakis girls will not have a relay team compete at state.
Tianna Stanek also came close to making state in the 200-meter dash but fell just short by taking third in 26.41 seconds. Jordyn VanVickle of Pillager was first in 26.09, and Emily Kaiser of Minnewaska was second at 26.14. Stanek ends her standout career for Osakis having competed at state in her seventh through junior year seasons.
“Tianna ran one of her best races of her career in the 200,” VanNyhuis said.
VanNyhuis also liked the way his boys 4x800 (Carter Grove, Jarron Kurth, Daniel Savageau, Brently Boogaard) and 4x400 (Xavier Pahl, Jacob Backes, Daniel Savageau, Brently Boogaard) teams ran. Both teams finished fourth in times of 3:37.33 and 8:25.41.
“We knew we were going to see some tough teams and had to try some new things,” VanNyhuis said. “Most of the guys had splits that were season bests or close to it. It wasn't easy for the distance and mid-distance runners to compete in the heat. We really haven't trained in heat like this, or even close to it this season.”
For the girls, other top-six finishes at the 6A meet for Osakis came from Lauren Scherr in the pole vault (8-00, t-fifth), Noelle Bjerk in the discus (sixth, 104-03) and Tessa Stanek in the long jump (sixth, 15-09.50). For the boys, Jacob Wielenberg tied for sixth in the high jump (5-07) and Ben Paulson was sixth in the discus (132-05).
The Class A state meet will start at 3:30 p.m. both June 7 and 8.