Eight FL athletes advance to state track meet
The Forest Lake girls track team took the Section 7AA title away from Elk River last Saturday in Duluth by finishing first with a total of 104 points despite 45-degree weather, 15-mph winds and precipitation.
The Rangers also advanced eight athletes in five events to the state meet, while head coach Eric Kaluza earned Section Coach of the Year.
Sophomore Cassidy Baker returns to the state meet in the pole vault by clearing 10-7, good for second place. Junior Katie Dison nearly earned a bid with a third-place finish in the event at 10-3, an 8-inch improvement for the vaulter.
Junior Caitlin Freer took the section title in the triple jump with a distance of 35-1 despite a stress fracture in her foot. Ninth-grader Abby Jungwirth also earned a trip to state after taking second in the triple jump at 34-11.
Kaluza said Freer’s performance in the triple jump was admirable.
“She’s pretty banged up and hurt, but, man, that kid is tough,” Kaluza said.
Senior Jessica Dhaene returns to state in the 100-meter hurdles as a section champ with the winning time of 15.37.
The 4×800-meter relay team of eighth-grader Maria Valentin, sophomore Rocci Wohlk, ninth-grader Emma Benner and eighth-grader Allie Bartlett not only captured the section title amid a downpour of rain, they also broke the school record previously set in 2010 by Wohlk, Cassie Thobe, Liz Peterson and Holly Winberg.
Both Grand Rapids and Cambridge-Isanti started strong in the relay, but Valentin came cruising around the second lap to catch the Thunderhawk runner. Wohlk earned a personal best on her leg at 2:22 and completed a near-perfect handoff with Benner who kept the lead for the Rangers through the third leg. By the time Bartlett went through the finish line, Forest Lake had a six-second lead.
Kaluza said he was pleased with the overall performance of his squad and expects to bring home a medal in each event at the state meet.
Dhaene competes in the preliminary round Friday at Hamline University while the remainder of the Forest Lake entrants compete on Saturday.