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State Track: Lilja wins gold, Zylstra 3rd, Hoeft double up again

Josie Lilja with gold medal in pole vault at the Class A State Track and Field meet on Saturday at Hamline University1 / 3
Shane Zylstra, NLS junior, soars to a long jump distance of 21-11 for third place at the Class A State Track and Field meet on Saturday at Hamline University.2 / 3
Kari Hoeft, Paynesville senior, clears the hurdle on the way to fourth place in the 100 hurdles at the Class A State Track and Field meet on Saturday at Hamline University. She also placed fourth in the 300 hurdles3 / 3

To the misfortune of the Class AA contestants and fans, it rained all of Saturday morning in the Capital City.

But shortly after noon, the rain gave way to gray sky in in plenty of time for the mid-afternoon start of the Class A meet.

Still, the decision was made to move the boys high jump and the girls pole vault indoors to the Hamline University Fieldhouse behind the Klas Field stadium.

Not a problem for the No. 1 seeded vaulter from Olivia and BOLD/BLHS High School. Josie Lilja cleared 10-9 to win the event by three inches over Bridget Egan of Belle Plaine.

“I liked it [indoors],” she said. “I felt good in there right away,” said the junior who qualified for State last year on a Warriors’ relay.

This is her fourth year bending the pole, or trying, but until this spring she hadn’t surpassed nine feet.

What changed? “Once I made nine, I felt I could go higher. I got faster and stronger which meant I could use a bigger pole.”

She found it was exciting to come into the meet at the top of the list with a vault of 11-1 at Redwood Falls and setting a new Section 3A standard. She had an unsuccessful try at 11-2 in the fieldhouse. She and Warriors’ teammate Niko Berge (eighth in the boys vault) are mentored by assistant track coach Matt Jahnke.

The Area’s other gold medal was produced by senior Dani Wubben of Central Minnesota Christian. She went 17-04 on Friday to win long jump a second time in three years.

Paynesville senior hurdler Kari Hoeft placed fourth in both events. It’s the third year in a row she medaled in both the 100 intermediates and the 300 lows. She also medaled as a freshman in the 100 hurdles. She just missed the podium in triple jump, placing tenth.

Shane Zylstra, New London-Spicer junior, medaled in both the long and high jump. He had four jumps of 21 or better in the long jump pit with an all-time best of 21-11.25 on his second attempt.

Ben Burgett of Community Christian in Willmar finished an outstanding spring by placing fifth in the 800 and seventh in the 1600. “I’m just thankful to be here,” he said, perhaps referring to his fall cross-country season when his endurance faltered badly halfway into the season. “In the mile, I was determined to run my own race but the lead pack of six went out so fast by the time I kicked there was too much to make up.”

He set personal-bests at the Section 5A meet at St. John’s in both events. In the 800 prelim Friday, he lowered his 800 time to 1:57.24.

Jacinta Roggenbuck capped her long track career at Lac qui Parle Valley/Dawson-Boyd with a third-place finish in the 400 and a fourth-place medal in the 200. She and Paynesville freshman Katelyn Spanier were matching strides at the finish with Roggenbuck’s digital advantage kist .01 in a career-best time of 58.34.

The Montevideo boys 4x200 relay started with a poor first handoff but shook it off to place fourth with Dazhown Coleman, Casey Reeves, Adam DeZeeuw and Preston Herfurth.

Benson’s Hannah Ricard came out of the first flight in pre-lims to place sixth in the shot put.

Among the disappointments, was a tenth place for the Litchfield girls 4x800 after medaling last year. Three will return while leadoff Savannah Ramirez will be running for Southwest Minnesota State next year.

LQPV/DB junior Alaysia Freetly medaled in the 1600 a year ago but just couldn’t find her pace this time and was overtaken in the last few meters by two runners to finish a step off the podium in tenth.

Among the most notable Class A conquests in the meet’s ninth year at Hamline: Jaelin Beachy of Staples-Motley won her third straight 100 hurdles title; Jon Tollefson of St. Croix Lutheran repeated in the 110 hurdles (Class A record 14.36) and 38.32 in the 300. Waseca’s Shane Streich defended successfully in both the 800 (1:55.14) and 1600 (Class A record 4:13.8). Tyler Tappe of Pequot Lakes cleared 15-0 in the vault; he was a co-winner last year at 14-6.

Rand Middleton
Tribune photographer/videographer. Began working in radio and at weekly newspaper in Munising, Michigan, in 1972. Started parttime at West Central Daily Tribune Sept. 1974. Fulltime news/sports beginning Feb. 1979. Married to Tribune news clerk Donna (Miller) Middleton, formerly of Kerkhoven. 2 grown children. 
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