SAINT PAUL -- Kaitlyn Schuur, a sophomore on the Southwest Christian/Edgerton track and field team, also teams up with her father/coach, Ryan, to get the most out of the pole vault.

On a beautiful warm and sunny Saturday at Hamline University in St. Paul, with her dad watching over her, Schuur got the most out of her Minnesota Class A state tournament.

She cleared 11 feet, earning a bronze medal, and said it was all for the glory of God.

“I feel like I did God’s will. Dad and I really wanted that third-place medal, and that’s what I got,” she explained.

Schuur has held the SWC/E girls pole vault record since she first cleared 8-6 as a freshman. She breaks her own record every time she goes higher. She reached 10-7 for a new record in the sub-section meet, and her 11-0 at state raised the bar again.

Ashley Hokanson of Perham captured the state Class A pole vault title with an outstanding clear of 12-7. Alayne Schloeder of Rockford was second by putting 11-6 in the books.

On her pole bag Schuur has attached a Bible verse from Isaiah 40:31. She has the verse memorized, but she likes to remind herself before every vault that the race goes to those who wait upon the Lord, that they will run and not be weary, and that they will walk (or vault) and not faint.

“Just knowing I’m doing this for Him -- putting my faith in the Lord” strengthens her, she said.

On a more terrestrial scale, Schuur said she’s been helped this year by going to a heavier-weighted pole.

“They pop me,” she said.

And she’s also worked on improving her planting.

Not satisfied with stopping there, the sophomore reminds herself that she’s still got a couple of high school years ahead to improve herself more.

She points out: “I’ve got a lot left in me.”

Gehl wins a second third

There were many stories like Schuur’s at the 2019 state meet -- of athletes accomplishing or surpassing their goals. But not all. One of southwest Minnesota’s top girl athletes, Michelle Neece of Pipestone Area, was not able to qualify this year for the 100-meter hurdles finals. Last year’s state Class A champion in the event, Neece struggled with a quad injury this season, and though she qualified for the state 100 again in her senior year, she wasn’t able to rise above the field.

In 2018, Neece competed in four state meet events.

Sommer Schaap of Southwest Christian/Edgerton, who shadowed Neece in the 100-meter hurdles during spring, finished eighth overall at state, in a time of 16.17.

Sophomore Morgan Gehl of Heron Lake-Okabena/Fulda, a fixture at the state meet since she was a seventh-grader, enjoyed another stellar weekend. On Friday she placed third in the Class A 3,200-meter run with a personal-best 10:58.15. On Saturday she placed third in the 1,600-meter run in 5:02.64.

The pre-race favorites, Cotter’s incomparable Ping sisters, Grace and Lauren, finished 1-2 (Grace in 4:59.07 and Lauren in 5:00.57). Gehl pronounced herself satisfied with third.

“I thought I ran it pretty good. I’m happy. I always want to beat those Ping girls. I’ll keep working on it. I will get them sometime,” she said, adding that her experience in state track events continues to add to her confidence.

“In the seventh grade I was really nervous. I didn’t know what to expect,” she said. “So now you know where everyone is at. You’re kind of more chill about it.”

Jackson County Central’s Aleigha Henderson competed in three events at state. She placed ninth in the long jump (16-5.5), didn’t place in the 100-meter dash (16th in the prelims, 13.05) and was 16th in the triple jump (33-4.75).

Delaney Smith of Windom Area competed in the discus and shot put. She was third in the shot put, with a 42-6 toss, and held down the No. 5 spot in the discus, with a 120-8 throw.

Kendall Kapplinger of Jackson County Central finished 14th in the shot put with a 35-0.25 throw.

Luverne’s big moment was a repeat title in the girls 4x800 relay (see related story). But there was more LHS success at state. The Cardinals’ Tenley Nelson finished sixth in the 3,200-meter run in a time of 11:30.82. Regan Feit was seventh in the 300-meter hurdles (46-75). Brooklynn VerSteeg finished ninth in the 400-meter run (1:02.38).

Gracie Zewiske ran a 27.75 prelim in the 200-meter dash and didn’t place. Gabrielle Ferrell was 16th in the 300-meter hurdle prelims (51.47) and didn’t place. Mallory Thorson was 17th in the triple jump (33-2).

The Luverne 4x200-meter relay (Autumn Nath, Ivory Hudson, Zewiske and Sydney Biever) was fifth in a time of 1:46.84. The 4x400 team (Feit, Nath, Jadyn Anderson and Tiana Lais) placed ninth, in 4:07.58. The 4x100-meter relay squad (Hudson, Mallory Oye, Zewiske and Biever) was 13th in the prelims (51.35) and did not get a place.

Windom Area 800-meter runner Gracie Bucher finished 14th in her preliminary race in a time of 2:23.68.

Layla Deelstra of Hills-Beaver Creek ran a 13.55 prelim race in the 100-meter dash, which put her in 18th place there.

While Luverne produced a solid fifth-place time in the girls 4x200 relay, Hills-Beaver Creek, with Madison Spath, Sidney Fick, Deelstra and Taryn Rauk, ran a 1:49.47 in the prelims and didn’t get a place. The Southwest Christian/Edgerton 4x800 squadron consisting of Audra Homandberg, Mikayla Johnson, Cybil Vander Top and Savannah Schultz finished tenth in 9:51.21.