Prep girls track: Farrell, Spanier, Ludeman, Edwards among area's best

LES KNUTSONDaily Globe LUVERNE -- Freshman distance runner Gabrielle Ferrell has experienced much individual and team success while competing for the tradition-rich Luverne Cardinals as a cross country runner in the fall and as a two-time medalis...

Daily Globe

LUVERNE - Freshman distance runner Gabrielle Ferrell has experienced much individual and team success while competing for the tradition-rich Luverne Cardinals as a cross country runner in the fall and as a two-time medalist at the Class A state track and field meet in the 3,200-meter run.
After finishing seventh in the 2014 state meet as a seventh-grader, clocked at 11:41.11, Ferrell improved her performance a year later at Klas Field on the campus of St. Paul’s Hamline University in June of 2015. She ran smooth and strong from start to finish and earned the silver medal with a timeof 11:28.10.
Ferrell returns with the best overall state-meet finish among area track and field girls as the new season unfolds in the coming weeks.
Several others, including Pipestone Area senior Maria Spanier, Tracy-Milroy-Balaton junior Kendra Ludeman and Luverne senior Morgan Edwards, have placed among the leaders at the state meet and will strive to earn repeat trips to Hamline.
Spanier finished third in the 300-meter low hurdles at the 2014 state meet as a sophomore with a sizzling timeof 45.90 seconds. That same June, Ludeman - a freshman - cleared the high jump bar at 5-3 and placed third. Edwards, as a sophomore, claimed the fourth-place medal in the shot put with a distance of 37-4.5.
All three of those girls competed at Hamline again last year and experienced more success.
Spanier was joined by teammates Claire Femrite, Zoe Velde and Michelle Neece on Pipestone’s 4x100-meter relay team which placed eighth in the state-meet finals with a time of 50.79. Neece, now a freshman, earned a pair of medals at Hamline as she earlier finished ninth in the finals of the 100-meter high hurdles with a time of 16.32. She won the Section 3A race (at Luverne) with a time of 15.64. Femrite, a senior, has been one of the area’s best sprinters for several seasons. Velde, just an eighth-grader this spring, also has excellent speed.
“Having all four girls back off of a state-meet placing relay team is a good thing for us,” said PA head coach Todd Tinklenberg. “Both Maria and Michelle have had lots of success as hurdlers and they really push each other in practice.”
Ludeman placed eighth in the high jump at Hamline last year, clearing 5-2. Edwards, who also qualified to compete in the discus, improved her shot put mark by nearly a foot. But her best effort of 38-2.25 was the sixth best in last year’s highly-competitive field.
Along with Ferrell and Edwards, Luverne - which graduated a bundle of top-notch track and field athletes - returns six others with state-meet experience.
Sophomore Sierra Schmuck was the leadoff runner on the Cardinals’ second-place 4x200-meter relay team last year, which clocked a terrific time of 1:45.08 in the finals. Two years ago, Schmuck and classmate Joci Oye - as just eighth-graders - were two legs on Luverne’s 4x100-meter relay at Hamline.
Junior Courtney Siebenahler placed ninth last year in the triple jump (34-7.25), junior Kami Sawtelle competed in the discus at Hamline two years ago as a freshman and junior distance runner/pole vaulter Madi Schandelmeier ran on Luverne’s 2014 third-place 4x800-meter relay team, as did Ferrell and classmate Jadyn Anderson.
Veteran LHS head coach Craig Nelson, who has guided the Cardinals to Class A True Team state titles in 2008, 2010 and 2014, is also expecting great things this spring from senior hurdler/sprinter/jumper Jaidyn Elbers, who will “provide plenty of quality leadership for what will be an overall young squad.”
Southwest Christian/Edgerton returns a pair of state-meet medalists from 2015 as seniors Chantel Groen (eighth, long jump, 16-3.5) and Lydia Homandberg (ninth, 300-meter low hurdles, 48.86) each placed at Hamline as juniors. They each will likely run on some quality Eagle relay teams again this spring. Senior thrower Mariah Talsma and sophomore middle-distance runner Annika Brands will also be counted on to score big for SWC/E in 2016.
Rachel Salentiny and Cheyenne Schaffer, a pair of sophomore distance runners, and junior hurdler Kaylan Untiedt are Heron Lake-Okabena’s top returning performers.
Pipestone sophomore Angel Martens and junior Livia Wallace join Adrian eighth-grader Moriah Bullerman, Fulda seventh-grader Morgan Gehl, Jackson County Central sophomore Jessica Christoffer and Windom Area junior Christianna Green as top-notch returning distance runners. All of them, along with HL-O’s Salentiny, have run individually in the state cross country meet. Martens finished 14th in the 3,200 (12:11.84) in last June’s state track meet after qualifying with a second-place 12:01.05 performance in the section meet.
Windom Area also returns senior Amy Muller, a two-time state-meet qualifier in the pole vault, while JCC freshman Kailey Koep is an upcoming prospect in that event. The Huskies have a pair of proven sprinters in freshman Aleigha Henderson and sophomore Alyssa Post. Sophomore Brielle Scheepstra, who also triple jumps, is JCC’s best hurdler.
Fulda, sparked by a winning performance from Morgan Gehl in the 3,200-meter run, competed indoors in the Dakota Dome Tuesday as part of the huge Dan Lennon Invitational at the University of South Dakota in Vermillion, S.D. The Raiders are also expecting good things this spring from sophomore middle-distance runner Camryn Baumhoefner, junior thrower/sprinter Nicole Madison, junior high jumper/sprinter Bailey Wagner and eighth-grade distance runner Khloe Gehl.
Hills-Beaver Creek also participated at USD and the Patriots have a young squad with sophomore Paige Tilstra and the freshman trio of Sidney Fick, Grace Bundesen and Madison Spath among the top sprinting prospects.
This year’s state meet will again be at Hamline on June 10-11. The South Sub-Section meet is at Luverne May 26 and the Section 3A meet will be at Redwood Falls on June 2.
Luverne will host the Section 3A True Team meet on May 9 with the winning team advancing to state competition at Stillwater May 21. Redwood Falls will host the 13-school Big South Conference meet on May 14, while Mountain Lake will host the Red Rock Conference meet May 19.
The 64th Annual Trojan Relays will be in Worthington on May 17.


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