After losing the True Team Section 5AAA title by just 3.5 points to Blaine last year, the Forest Lake girls track and field team returned to the top of the podium in White Bear Lake last week. It marked the program’s third True Team Section win in five years.
First-year head coach Devin Swanberg said he was happy with the effort put forth by his team, especially the short-distance runners.
Rangers competing in the 100-, 200- and 400-meter dashes accounted for 21 percent of the team’s 928 points, up from 15 percent a year ago.
“The girls really did compete well,” Swanberg said. “The sprinters did a really good job and scored us tons of points, so that was nice to see.”
Senior Savannah Swanson placed third in 13.20 in the 100-meter dash, followed by seventh-grader Maddy Dolby in fourth with a personal-best time of 13.22. Sophomore Jennifer Thill was close behind in sixth place in 13.29.
Dolby earned another best time (27.06) and fifth place in the 200-meter event, while eighth-grader Jenna Parent placed 10th in 27.47.
Ninth-grader Allie Bartlett captured first place in the 400-meter as the only runner to cross the finish line under a minute. Bartlett’s time was 59.70, good for fifth-best in program history. Senior Kristy Dellwo took sixth place with a personal-best time of 1:02.83.
The Rangers had three finishers in the top 10 in the 800-meter run. Bartlett placed third in 2:23.71, followed by ninth-grader Maria Valentin in fifth (2:26.92) and ninth-grader Amanda Forliti in 10th (2:29.75).
The distance runners added to the day’s strong efforts. Sophomore Emma Benner won the 1600-meter run with a personal-best time of 5:07. Benner improved from last year’s time of 5:22. Eighth-grader Caroline Schoessow came in second place with a time of 5:24. Seventh-grader Regan Duffy took ninth place in 5:32.
In the 2-mile event, Benner took second place in 11:09, followed by Duffy in fifth with a time of 12:01. Seventh-grader Jesseca Overland came in four-hundredths of a second later for a sixth-place finish.
The Ranger relay teams were solid throughout the meet. Blaine took first in each event, except the 4×800, which was won by White Bear Lake.
The 4×100 team of sophomores Zoey Torgerson and Kassity Swanson, Thill and Parent placed second in 52.65. In the 4×200, Dellwo, Savannah Swanson, Dolby and Parent earned second place in 1:48.75, just two-hundredths of a second behind the Bengals.
Forest Lake faced an interesting situation in the 4×400. With Dellwo, Savannah Swanson and Dolby already competing in three running events, the Rangers formed a new team consisting of Valentin, Bartlett, Dolby and ninth-grader Izzy Leininger. The group took third place in its debut with a time of 4:09.33. The girls came in less than a second from both runner-up White Bear Lake and Blaine.
High jump was another success for Forest Lake. Sophomore Abby Jungwirth earned second place by clearing 5-0, while eighth-grader Vanessa Weigel took third with a personal-best leap of 4-10 in her second varsity appearance in the event. Senior Caitlin Freer competed despite an injured ankle and added points by tying for fourth place with a jump of 4-10 at a later attempt.
“That was fun to watch,” Swanberg said. “Abby did good and all three almost made 5 feet — it was awesome.”
Forest Lake earned three more top-10 finishes in the pole vault, starting with champion Katie Dison. The senior cleared 10-0, the lone vaulter to do so on the day. Junior Cassidy Baker earned third place at 9-6, while Parent posted a personal record of 8-0, good for a seventh-place tie.
In discus, junior Gena Baklund and senior Ala Tyler took seventh and eighth place by throwing 112-6 and 104-4, respectively. Tyler’s throw was a personal best.
Other top finishes include Jungwirth taking third for a triple jump of 34-8.25 and Baker taking 10th in the shot put with a mark of 30-8.
With the win, the Rangers are headed to the True Team state meet, set for 4 p.m. Friday, May 16 in Stillwater.
Swanberg said Prior Lake will be the favorite this year in a field with strong Mounds View, East Ridge and Minnetonka teams.
With the end of the season approaching quickly, the Rangers are also preparing for the Suburban East Conference meet, which begins with prelims at 3:15 p.m. Tuesday, May 20, at East Ridge. Finals begin at 4:15 p.m. at East Ridge on Thursday, May 22.