Alexandria’s Drew Olson was not posting times in the 100-meter dash a year ago that would suggest winning a state title as a senior was necessarily in the cards.

Olson qualified for the state meet in 2018. That’s an accomplishment for any athlete, but he ran an 11.35 in prelims last year and did not qualify for the finals. Given an offseason of hard work and another chance on Saturday back in St. Paul, Olson put the finishing touches on a record-breaking senior season by winning the 100-meter dash championship in 10.71 seconds.

“I always had something in me saying, ‘I can do that,’” Olson said. “I just needed to put the work down so it showed that I care. I’ve just been grinding it out on the track and hoping for the best.”

Olson said his training both on and off the track over the past year helped him go from posting times in the low 11-second range to consistently running under 11 seconds now as a senior. He also finished sixth in the 200-meter dash state finals in 22.40, and ran the anchor in Alexandria’s 4x100 relay that won the Class AA title on Saturday.

The 100-meter dash is the individual race that Olson positioned himself to win. He was first after Friday’s prelims with a time of 10.70, but the top sprinters were packed close together. Julian Wright of DeLaSalle was second in prelims (10.72) and Evan Hull of Maple Grove was a close third (10.74). Hull finished second overall in the finals, but by a greater distance on Saturday as he finished in 10.84 seconds.

“I was definitely stressing about it for the last two days knowing there was a lot of good competition,” Olson said. “I was just hoping to be up there in the herd. It all came down to that last stretch. I didn’t get the best start, and when I saw him get in front of me, I knew it was the last 100 meter of my high school career. It was just a lot of will power at the end.”

The championship and the podium finish in the 200-meter dash wraps up a standout senior season for Olson in both sprint races. He leaves Alexandria as the school and Section 8AA record holder in both events.

“I think it’s been a pretty successful last high school year,” Olson said. “I improved my PR almost by a half a second, in the 200 the same thing. Running for the University of Mary (next year), that’s going to look good for them there, and hopefully I can drop my times even more in college.”

4X100 RELAY WINS A TITLE

Olson was just part of a strong group of sprinters for the Alexandria boys program this season, and the Cardinals proved that by winning the 4x100-meter relay championship on Saturday.

The team of freshman Kristen Hoskins, junior Cody Branson, sophomore Nolan Morical and Olson ran away from the field, winning by more than half a second in a time of 41.92.

“It means a lot more knowing it takes more than one person to build a strong team,” Olson said. “We stayed in the lead or very close to it the entire race, so everyone pitched in.”

It started with Hoskins getting off to a strong start.

“Out of the blocks I’m just so nervous, taking deep breaths,” Hoskins said. “Then I just relax, and I’m calm.”

He handed the baton to Branson before Morical put Olson in a good position to bring home the win. Morical handed off to Olson and then threw his hands up anticipating the win as he watched it all unfold across the finish line.

“It helps having Drew being one of the fastest sprinters in the state,” Morical said. “As a sprinting group, we all just try to push each other in practice, and I think that definitely plays a role.”

Olson pulled away from the pack and threw his hands up after crossing the finish line with his second championship of the day.

“It was a very good handoff from Morical to me,” Olson said. “From yesterday, Rochester was pretty fast. I was just thinking we needed all clean handoffs, and that last stretch was either going to be me or Rochester. I was just expecting him to be right on my butt the entire way, so I had tunnel vision straight to the finish.”

The team from Rochester Century finished second in 42.46 seconds. Alexandria lowered its prelims time of 42.19 as they won the title after finishing second on Friday.

“It’s really fun since we have all grade levels here,” Branson said. “We’ve got a freshman, a sophomore, a junior and senior. This is the first year with this 4x100, and coming here as a group is really fun. We obviously have Drew in some individuals, but it’s also really fun to win as a team.”

4X200 TAKES NINTH

The Alexandria 4x200-meter relay team wrapped up its season by taking ninth in Saturday’s finals.

Derrek Piepho, Branson, Morical and Graham Peterson had a prelims time of 1:28.82 on Friday. They ran a finals time of 1:33.97. The foursome from Hopkins won the championship in 1:25.58.