Luverne's Sandbulte, SWC/E's Schaap sparkle at state track meet
Ashton Sandbulte of Luverne stood on the track here at St. Michael-Albertville High, surrounded by thousands of fans and athletes at Minnesota’s largest sporting event of the year, and doubted himself a little bit. “I was really nervous,” Sandbulte said. “Because we’re from like small-town southwest Minnesota and there isn’t a whole lot of competition there.”
ST. MICHAEL — Ashton Sandbulte of Luverne stood on the track here at St. Michael-Albertville High, surrounded by thousands of fans and athletes at Minnesota’s largest sporting event of the year, and doubted himself a little bit.
“I was really nervous,” Sandbulte said. “Because we’re from like small-town southwest Minnesota and there isn’t a whole lot of competition there.”
Then he looked over in the starting blocks of his 100 meter heat and spotted Maverick Goblirsch of Redwood Valley High in Redwood Falls.
“Me and him have always been close,” Sandbulte said. “That was fun.”
Then the Luverne sprinter smiled.
“It’s always good to have a little hometown with you.”
Sandbulte made the home folks proud all right. He blazed to a third-place finish at the State A meet, setting a new school record in the 100 meters with a time of 11.02 seconds. Needless to say he had a fast start.
“Usually this year they’ve been pretty slow,” he said. “But I did pretty well in this one. It helped a lot.”
Sandbulte, a powerfully built athlete who plays fullback on the Luverne football team, ran the anchor leg on the Cards’ 4 x 200 and 4 x 400 relay teams. The 4 x 200 group, which also included senior Arekel McLaughlin, junior Eli Radtke and senior LaShad Smith, finished fifth.
The Cards’ 4 x 400 relay finished eighth. Thus, Sandbulte had a hand in all 15 of the Luverne points, which tied for 20th place overall in the boys competition.
Sandbulte was asked if the hot day at the big meet will linger in his memory, even after he returns to his small-town roots.
“For sure, for sure,” he grinned. “This is a very big day in my life.”
Pete Janiszewski is the head coach of the Luverne track teams. His sophomore son, Camden, just missed earning team points with a 10th-place finish in the 1,600 meters (4:33.33).
Corey Nelson is an assistant to Pete Janiszewski in both programs.
“The girls have had a strong program for quite a while and boys have had pretty good teams, too,” said Nelson. “We have a nice group of older kids who have been through the ringer and know how to handle this. They all work really hard and they know what they want.”
Nelson, whose nephew is Minnesota Gopher hockey standout Jaxon Nelson, said Sandbulte was a particular highlight this day.
“He did a really, really nice job,” Nelson said.
Meanwhile, Micah Schaap of Southwest Christian/Edgerton also had a memorable day. He competed in the long jump, triple jump, 400 meters and 4 x 400 relay, a bit of a grueling assignment on a day when temperatures approached 90 degrees.
The junior responded with a sizzling performance.
He placed second in the long jump (21-2.75), third in the triple jump (43-8), and fifth in the 400 (50.28). The Eagles’ 4 x 400 relay placed 10th of the 16 teams entered.
Schaap, who ran the anchor leg on the relay, accounted for all 23 of the Edgerton Southwest Christian points. The Eagles finished 14th overall in the team standings.
“This is a big step up, coming here in all four events,” Schaap said. “It will be great motivation for me to come back next year. It’s not quite normal this time because the boys and girls meets are separated, but I’m hoping that next year will be just as fruitful and just as fun.”
Next spring, the Minnesota State High School League plans to add a third class of track and field competition. By then, perhaps COVID-19 and all the precautions and cancellations it caused, will be a distant memory.
“Definitely,” Schaap said. “I’m already looking forward to being back here next year.”
The top three boys teams at the State A meet were Morris Area/Chokio-Alberta (42 points), Plainview-Elgin-Millville (38) and Perham (35). Complete results can be found at www.mshsl.org .