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State track: Slater takes second, LHS 4x800 finishes fourth

ALEX PURDY/DAILY GLOBE Adrian senior Nicole Slater (facing camera) hugs a competitor after placing second in the 1,600-meter run Saturday at the state Class A track and field meet in St. Paul. Slater finished the race in 5:05.60.

ST. PAUL — Sometimes even your best isn’t quite good enough to put you on the top of the victory stand, but it’s important to maintain a proper perspective. The Luverne High School girls 4x800-meter relay team had that lesson firmly learned Saturday at the Minnesota state Class A meet.

Cardinals Jadyn Anderson, Gabrielle Ferrell, Madi Schandelmeier and Makayla Hohn challenged for first place during the race but settled for third. Anderson and Ferrell stayed on the heels of the lead during their turns with the baton, and Schandelmeier took over the lead during the last 100 yards of her third leg. Hohn was running even with Waseca with a lap to go at Klas Field on the campus of Hamline University in St. Paul.

But Waseca won it, Holy Family Catholic was second and Luverne finished third in 9:35.46 — about four seconds off of Waseca’s time of 9:31.57.

After the race, however, the Cardinals were happy. There were many hugs and smiles on every face.

“Our previous PR (personal record) was 9:49 and we ran about a 9:35. That’s a pretty extreme PR,” said an excited Hohn, the only senior among the foursome. “We knew it was going to be tight. But we knew we had so much to give.”

The LHS foursome won the event at the Section 3A meet by nearly 14 seconds, coming in at 9:49.43. They entered the state finals ranked second to Waseca, and their time in the finals was only two seconds off the school record.

Hohn went straight to the trainer’s tent after Saturday’s race, accompanied by her excited teammates. She has competed bravely this year despite a nagging hip problem, which has caused other complications throughout the spring, including a calf strain on Saturday.

“I actually couldn’t feel my legs the entire time (of the 4x800),” she said. “But I had so much adrenaline.”

There was no shortage of adrenaline at Hamline University on Saturday. And although no area athletes stood on the top of the victory stand, southwest Minnesota was well represented among the leaders.

Nicole Slater completed a stellar track and cross country career at Adrian High School on Saturday amid gray skies and cool temperatures, placing second in the 1,600-meter run. Slater, a senior who finished ninth in the 3,200-meter run on Friday in a clocking of 11:51.04, qualified for the state 1,600-meter event on state standard after finishing third in the Section 3A meet. On Saturday, she finished in 5:05.60, which was well ahead of the 5:21.09 she used to finish 11th in the 1,600 meters at last year’s state meet.

“I give the glory to God. My faith has really been a big part of what I am,” said the gracious Slater moments after Saturday’s final.

Kayla Huhnerkoch, a junior from Redwood Valley, finished ahead of Slater on Saturday (5:03.02) to follow up her first-place finish in the Section 3A meet. As for Slater, she stayed well behind the leaders for most of Saturday’s race before departing from the pack.

“I made a kick a little bit before 400 (meters). I definitely tried to push it the last 200, 150 meters,” she said.

Maria Spanier, a sophomore from Pipestone Area, placed third in the 300-meter low hurdles with a time of 45.90. Spanier finished eighth in the event last year, in 47.73.

“I felt pretty good. I had a good kick-off and I felt strong,” Spanier said. “I thought my form could be a lot better. I kind of stuttered for some of my hurdles. But that happens sometimes.”

Despite not running a perfect race, she was satisfied with it. “I just didn’t want to get eighth again,” she said.

The Luverne girls, who enjoyed a remarkable 2014 season as a team, finished 18th in the state Class A standings. Minneapolis Edison smartly won the team competition with 40 points. Belle Plaine/Holy Family Academy was second with 32.7 and Holy Family Catholic was third with 31 points. Luverne scored 17 points.

The Cardinals’ Morgan Edwards threw the shot put 37-4.5 for fourth place Saturday. She’d won the Section 3A title with a toss of 35-9.75. Teammate Kami Sawtelle was 13th in the discus with a 98-11 throw, failing to make Saturday’s finals. The Cards’ 4x 200-meter relay team of Sierra Schmuck, Naomi Dooyema, Kynzie Smedsrud and Tayla Peterson didn’t make Saturday’s finals, and the 4x 100-meter relay foursome of Schmuck, Dooyema, Joci Oye and Peterson also missed the finals.

On Friday, Luverne’s Gabrielle Farrell placed seventh in the 3,200-meter run (11:41.1).

Mountain Lake Area placed seventh in the 4x 200-meter relay. Mikayla Valk, Brianna Soutthivong, Emily Jahnke and Lydia Hildebrandt completed the course in 1:48.28.

Windom Area’s Amy Muller, who didn’t make opening height last year in the pole vault, placed 10th in the event in her second straight state meet. She cleared 9-6. Murray County Central’s Paris Thomas didn’t qualify for the finals in the 100-meter high hurdles.

Two high jumpers from Tracy-Milroy-Balaton, Kendra Ludeman and Samantha Gervais, both placed on Friday. Ludeman cleared 5-3 for third place and Gervais made 5-0 and finished in a tie for eighth.

Doug Wolter

Doug Wolter is the Daily Globe sports editor. He served as sports reporter, then sports editor, news editor and finally managing editor at the Daily Globe for 22 years before leaving for seven years to work as night news editor at the Mankato Free Press in Mankato. Doug now lives in Worthington with his wife, Sandy. They have three children and seven grandchildren. Doug, retired after a lengthy career in fast-pitch softball, enjoys reading, strumming his acoustic guitar and hanging around his grandchildren. He also writes books on fiction. Two of his stories, "The Genuine One" and "The Old Man in Section 129" have been distributed through a national publisher.

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