The Alexandria track and field teams were building up all season to perform well at the Section 8AA meet with state tournament bids on the line.
When their opportunity came throughout the two days of the section meet on May 29 and then Saturday in Willmar, the Cardinals not only secured state entries for 17 athletes between the boys and girls, they shattered a bunch of records in the process.
The Alexandria girls won the section championship in total team points with 155. Willmar was a distant second at 83.33 and Rocori was third with 76. The boys finished second to Moorhead in the final team standings.
The top two individuals and top two relays automatically qualify for state, and there are also time and distance standards that can qualify an athlete or relay team. As a program, the Alexandria boys and girls set eight new school or Section 8AA records on Saturday.
Senior Kaye Paschka had three of those herself as she qualified for the state meet in the 100-meter hurdles (14.43), 300-meter hurdles (44.03) and the triple jump (37-00) after winning all three events. Her 100 hurdles time set a new school and section record. Her 300 hurdles time broke her own school record, and her triple jump mark set a new school record previously set by Rosey Erickson in 2011.
Two girls relay teams also set new school records. The Cardinals' 4x200 relay record had stood since 2001 before Hannah Quitmeyer, Anna Doherty, Addison Rodel and Micah Summer finished in 1:45.21 on Saturday. That left them in third place at the meet behind teams from Brainerd (1:44.33) and Willmar (1:44.58), just shy of qualifying for state.
The 4x800-meter relay team of Jaelyn Miller, Aleah Miller, Bethany Miller and Myah Kremer will race at state after taking second in 9:26.99. That time erased a school record that had stood since 1988. The Millers are all three sisters, and their mom, Julie, was on that 1988 4x800 team for the Cardinals.
The Alexandria boys were not going to be left out of a record-breaking day. Senior Drew Olson has left his mark on nearly every meet this spring, and he did not waste a chance to do that at sections. Olson broke the 200-meter dash section record that had stood since 2004 by winning the 8AA title in 22.05 seconds. The section record for the 100-meter dash had stood since 1985 before Olson broke it on Saturday with a winning time of 10.58.
Olson also ran the anchor in Alexandria's 4x100 relay that broke an 8AA record that had stood since 1980. Kristen Hoskins, Cody Branson and Nolan Morical joined him in winning in 42.78 seconds to secure their spot at state. Bemidji's foursome was a distant second at 44.12.
In addition to those who broke records and qualified, the Cardinals will be joined at state by plenty of teammates who finished top two in their events to earn those state bids.
The boys 4x400 relay team of Caden Scheunert, Graham Peterson, Jack Theien and Ethan Schroeder took second at sections to earn that automatic bid with a time of 3:27.37. The 4x200 team of Derrek Piepho, Branson, Morical and Peterson won the section championship in 1:31.47 to secure their spot at Hamline University.
Throwers also had another big day on day two of the 8AA meet. After already qualifying for state in the discus on May 29, senior McKenzie Duwenhoegger and junior Mya Lesnar earned another spot at state in the shot put on Saturday.
Lesnar won the shot with a throw of 44-02.75 and Duwenhoegger was second at 41-07.50. Hailey Gill finished fourth with a mark of 38-06.75.
The state meet will run June 7-8 at Hamline University in St. Paul. The Class AA meet takes place in the morning both days before the Class A meet in the afternoon.
Other Alexandria point scorers
Top-eight finishers at sections all scored points for their teams.
Erika Roderick (1:02.15) and Rodel (1:02.18) were seventh and eighth in the 400-meter dash finals, while Summer was eighth (26.94) in the 200 dash and Quitmeyer was sixth (12.80) in the 100-meter dash. The 4x100 relay team of Quitmeyer, Christina Drown, Doherty and Paschka just missed a state-qualifying time as they finished third in 49.79 seconds. A team from Moorhead was second in 49.72 to secure the final spot at state in that event.
The Alexandria girls racked up good points in the 800-meter run as Aleah Miller (third, 2:23.66), Bethany Miller (fourth, 2:23.70) and Kremer (fifth, 2:24.28) all finished top eight. Emma Ecker (fourth, 5:19.90) and Caitlin Bright (sixth, 5:23.33) led the way in the 1,600-meter run.
Hailie Kent finished fourth in the triple jump (35-03.50) and Sydney Gray was eighth (33-06). Gray was also fourth in the 100-meter hurdles (15.39), while Sierra Cory (third, 47.46) and Alexis Cole (seventh, 49.00) scored for Alexandria in the 300 hurdles.
The 4x400 relay of Rodel, Roderick, Meg Shercliffe and Kremer rounded out Alexandria point scorers by taking fifth (4:10.89).
For the Alexandria boys, Daniel Jantzen (sixth, 15.52) and Joshua Kietzmann (eighth, 16.18) earned points in the 110-meter hurdles. Kietzmann was third in the 300 hurdles (40.16) and also eighth in the long jump (20-02.75).
Senior Jaymeson Wolkow already qualified for state in the shot put during day one of sections. He almost did the same in discus, but finished third with a mark of 139-07.
The boys 4x800 relay team of Brian Denke, Jacob Kleven, Myles Sansted and Nathan Schneiderhan were seventh in 8:48.86. Schroeder was fifth in the 400-meter dash (52.82), while Branson was fourth in the 200 dash (22.88) and Morical (fourth, 11.18) and Piepho (fifth, 11.26) rounded out a big day in the sprints for Alexandria.