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GIRLS TRACK: Mix of state veterans, newcomers for Bemidji track team heading to St. Paul

BEMIDJI — Jenna Truedson will be making her seventh overall appearance at a state meet when she heads to Hamline University in St. Paul Friday and Saturday to represent the Bemidji High School girls track and field team. The sophomore also will be in her third state competition of the school year as she qualified for state in cross country during the fall season and in Nordic skiing over the winter.

Her experience at the state will be a valuable ally but Truedson never tires of competing on the big stage.

“I’m always excited to be at a state meet,” Truedson, who qualified in the 1,600, 3,200 and 4x400 relay, said. “Each time you go to a state meet is different and I remember that the first time was intimidating. But the more experience you have at state the less intimidating it becomes.”

Based on her section qualification time of 5:09.37 Truedson is seeded 10th in the mile. But based on her top time this season, Truedson ranks in the top three among the state runners.

“In the 1,600 I’m shooting for a time under five minutes and that should put me in the top two or three,” she said. “But the state meet will be only the fourth time I’ve run the 3,200 so it’s a new race for me. I’m just going to run and see what happens.”

Truedson is looking forward to her individual races but her main objective is to help the Lumberjacks excel in the 4x400 relay.

“Running in the relay is really fun because you are running for your teammates as well as for yourself,” she said.

Truedson handles the third leg of the 4x400 and follows Amy Carey and Megan Serratore. Running the anchor leg is Maea Wall. The same foursome competed in the 4x400 relay at last year’s state meet and placed eighth in 4:01.42. Their time was inflated, however, because the Lumberjacks messed an exchange, dropping the baton on one of the handoffs.

This year the Jacks are seeded second based on section times. BHS won the Section 8-2A title in 3:58.89. The only better time last weekend was posted by Minnetonka which claimed its section crown by running 3:57.08.

Carey will be Bemidji’s leadoff runner in the relay and she admits that some nervous tension could surface. Once the race starts, however, the sophomore will let her instincts take over.

“My job is to start strong and get us in a good position,” she said. “I’ll try and do that by running as fast as I can. Our immediate goal is to make it to the finals and compete on Saturday.”

Serratore handles the second leg and her duties are to maintain the team’s position.

“And at the last 100 meters I’m going to push it to set the race up for Jenna,” Serratore said.

During the fall Serratore joined Truedson at the state cross country meet and the sophomore will lean on that experience.

“This is my third time at a state meet and I have more confidence in myself,” she said. “I’m excited, especially because Amy and I both were injured earlier this year and it took a while to get our strides back.

“I’m happy to be back at state and happy that we are able to make it back with the same team that we had last year,” Serratore added.

Wall will anchor the relay team and at this stage of the season the sophomore knows that fine-tuning the little things is more important than working on running faster.

“If we run our race we will be in it (the championship hunt) but right now we are working on our handoffs. Last year we dropped one and we don’t want to have that happen again,” Wall said.

Wall also will run the individual 400 at the state meet as she was second in the section with a time of 59.10.

“Technically the 400 is a sprint but you have to pace yourself in the race so I would argue that it’s a distance race,” Wall said. “But I’m just so excited to be going back to state, especially with my teammates on the relay team.”

Representing Bemidji in the field events at state are thrower Allie Heifort and pole vaulter Amber Peterson. Last spring Heifort was seventh in the discus (136-9) and 10th in the shot put (38-6.25). She enters this year’s competition seeded fourth in the shot put and 11th in the discus, based on section performances.

“I’ve been in the big ring before and I think that will give me more confidence,” Heifort said. “My goal is to throw my personal records in both events and if I do that I should make the top three. All you need is one good throw to put you over the top.”

Heifort also is proud to be one of 13 BHS athletes advancing to the state meet. In addition to the six girls heading to Hamline, seven boys qualified for the state competition.

“It’s nice to see so many of us going,” Heifort said. “Sending 13 proves that Bemidji has a strong track and field program, especially considering how small our teams are.”

Peterson is excited to be one of the six Lumberjack girls representing the school. Last week she won the section pole vault by soaring 10-11. But the senior knows she can sail even higher.

“In practice I have gone 11-6 and at the section meet I cleared 11-4 three times but hit the bar on the way down each time,” Peterson said. “I’m shooting to win state and I’m shooting to break the school record.”

The BHS standard is owned by Andrea Smith who vaulted 12-7.25 in 2004.

“The secret to being a pole vaulter is to have confidence and to have strength. You can’t play any mind games,” Peterson said. “At the state meet all I have to do is get into the pit and compete like I did at sections.”

Pat Miller

Pat Miller is the sports editor at the Pioneer.

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