TRACK AND FIELD: Bemidji 4x400 team set for second straight state meet
BEMIDJI — It is not unheard of for a program to send a relay team to the state track meet for two or three consecutive years. It is very unusual, however, to have the same relay team with the same runners advance to Hamline University for three straight springs.
“I’ve never heard of another team with the same four girls all in the same grade going to state for three straight years,” said Bemidji junior Megan Serratore. “It’s exciting that we are going again.”
Serratore is the second runner of the Lumberjacks’ 4x400 girls relay unit and at 12:48 p.m. Saturday she will join teammates Amy Carey, Jenna Truedson and Maea Wall at the starting line for the Class 2A race. As freshmen two years ago the same foursome placed eighth at state and last year the group was ninth.
“This year our first goal is to make it to Saturday’s final nine and we would then like to have our best showing,” Carey said. “We want to finish better than eighth.”
At last week’s Section 8-2A meet the relay team was second with a time of 4:02.51. That time ranks 12th among the 17 teams which qualified for the state competition but Truedson believes that the Jacks will run much faster on Friday.
“Last week Amy and Megan had to run races before the relay so they were tired,” Truedson, a three-sport athlete who is making her 10th appearance in a state meet, said. “This time all of us will be fresh and focused.”
“This will be our third time together at the state meet and we all know what to expect,” Wall said. “We are all like sisters and being so close helps all of us improve as athletes. We want to make the podium and represent Bemidji as well as we can.”
Carey also believes that experience will be an ally during Friday’s race.
“We have learned that the competition is very good and we will need to have the right mindset going into the race,” she said. “Running at the state track meet is as much mental as it is physical. You have to be ready to go.”
“It all comes down to nerves,” Serratore added. “We’ve been here before and we’ll be ready for all of the fast competition.”
In addition to running in the relay, Truedson has qualified for state in the 1600 and the 3200. She is the defending state champion in the 1600 as she avoided disaster by dodging a runner who had fallen in front of her late in the race and sprinted past the competition down the stretch. Truedson also finished third in the 3200 a year ago.
“I think it is helpful to come back as a champion because you begin the race with confidence,” Truedson said. “But everybody in the race knows everybody else and we all know the times the people can run.”
In addition to Truedson, Saturday’s 10:47 a.m. race includes six other runners from last year’s race. Among them are Tess Misgen of Shakopee who was second to Truedson and Rachel King of St. Michael-Albertville who finished third.
The top two runners from Section 8-3A, at least according to the section meet results, are Alexandria twins Bethany Hasz and Megan Hasz. Neither competed in the mile at the state meet last spring but both will be among the leaders on Saturday.
“I’ve been running against the Hasz sisters for a long time and, because they are only sophomores, I’ll be running against them again next year,” Truedson said. “But competing against them so often has made me a better runner.
“The state meet is a different race. It can be more intense,” Truedson said. “But I’ve been at state a few times and feel comfortable competing there. I look at races at state as just a regular race and I think that helps me run faster.”
Wall also is a veteran of the state meet and last year she was eighth in the state in the 400 in addition to anchoring Bemidji’s 4x400 relay team.
“I’m hoping to move up from eighth,” Wall said of her 400 goal. “I’m ready to go. I’m ready to run.”
Wall also qualified this year in the long jump and is returning to the state in the event after not qualifying last spring.
“After qualifying as a freshman, I really wanted to make state in the long jump again and I’m hoping to do well. I’m excited to go to state this week.”
Sam Carlson is Bemidji’s lone representative at the state boys meet and the senior will cap his high school athletic career by running in the 800 and the 1600.
“I think I like running the 800 a little better because it’s over quicker,” Carlson, who is making his third trip to the state track meet, said. “I want to run fast enough in Friday’s 800 to make it to Saturday’s top-nine finals.”
Carlson also has a goal in mind for Saturday’s events.
“I want to break the school record in the 1600 and then use whatever I have left to do my best in the 800.”
The 1600 will begin at 10:55 a.m. and, if Carlson advances to the 800 finals, he will return to the track at 12:06 p.m.
“That’s not much time in between races,” Carlson said. “But my goal is to run well in each event.
“I’m more excited to be going to state this year than in my previous two years,” he continued. “Since I ran cross country in sixth grade everything I’ve done has led to competing at state as a senior. This is my last shot at state and I feel that I have a chance to earn a medal. Hopefully, everything will end well.”