SAINT PAUL -- The Ellsworth High School boys track and field program, not long ago, was hardly noticeable outside the southwest corner of Minnesota.
But over the last couple of years, it’s hard to miss the Panthers.
A year ago, four Panthers participated in the state Class A meet. This year there were more of them from the small school, highlighted by twin brothers Kade and Sean Boltjes. Kade participated in four events (long jump, 200-meter dash, and the 4x200 and 4x100-meter relays). Sean participated in three events, adding the 300-meter hurdles to the relays, which also featured Panthers Noah Kruse, Robby Armstrong and Cole Boltjes.
“It was unexpected (qualifying in four events),” said Kade in the infield of Hamline University in St. Paul Saturday afternoon. “I’m glad a did, but … I just had a really good meet at sections. I felt really good.”
The senior came in with a seventh-best state meet time (22.83) in the 200-meter race, right behind sixth-place finisher Carter Nesvold of Pipestone Area (22.71). Kade also placed 17th in the long jump competition, with an 18-7.25 leap.
Sean did his part individually with a sixth-place finish in the 300-meter hurdles, in 40.34.
The Ellsworth 4x100 team (Sean, Kruse, Cole and Kade) placed fifth overall, in 44:24. The Panthers’ 4x200 (Sean, Kruse, Armstrong and Kade) placed fourth in 1:31.12.
All season long, EHS has been shadowing outstanding Pipestone Area foursomes in the 4x200 and 4x100. The two schools weren’t far behind at Hamline.
Pipestone Area finished second in the 4x200 (1:29.73) with Nesvold, Cole Doppenberg, Jason Steenstra and Devin Tinklenberg). And the Arrows were third in the 4x100 (Nesvold, Braeden Benz, Steenstra and Tinklenberg) in 43.74.
Jordan was first in the 4x200 in a time of 1:29.25.
Kade Boltjes said he and his teammates like seeing Ellsworth represented so well at state.
“It’s a great feeling, especially since we know we’re going against schools that are 10-plus times our size,” he said.
One of those bigger schools -- Pipestone Area -- also returned home with plenty of hardware from St. Paul. Individually, Tinklenberg got a fourth place in the 400-meter run in a 50.60 clocking, ahead of Luverne’s Jedidiah Dooyema, who was eighth in 51.25.
Tinklenberg’s Arrows teammate, Benz, competed in two individual events, the 300-meter and 110-meter hurdle races. He didn’t place in the 300s, finishing 13th in the prelims (42.24), and he just missed placing in the 110s, getting a 10th-place prelim time in 15.85.
Nesvold said the Arrows could be satisfied with their performances, especially in the relays where school records were broken in both the 4x200 and 4x100 events during the regular season and again at state.
Last year Nesvold was fifth in his 200-meter dash. Considering he hurt his right hamstring from football season, took three track meets off, then “overcompensated” en route to hurting his left one, sixth place in 2019 wasn’t half bad.
“I just had to push through it,” he said.Trojans get two 15s
In Class AA competition, the Worthington Trojans came away with two 15th-place performances over the weekend.
On Friday, Sean Souksavath leaped to 40-7.25 in the triple jump. On Saturday morning, the squad of Andrew Huber, Christian Lietz, Adam Koller and Ammanuel Ojha finished in 8:21.54 in the boys 4x800-meter relay.
The foursome reached their high-water mark at the Section 2AA meet, where they placed second in a new school-record time of 8:04.92.
There were many excellent state meet performances in Class A.
Murray County Central’s Aaron Johnson posted a 16.05 time in the 110-meter hurdles, which was good enough for seventh place overall. Micah Schaap of Southwest Christian/Edgerton went 43-6.5 in the triple jump for fifth place.
Avery Pater of Southwest Christian/Edgerton finished in 2:00.28 in the 800-meter run and finished eighth overall in that event.
Jordan Hassing of Jackson County Central was 12th in the long jump by going 19-4. Scot Edwards of Adrian placed 14th in the shot put with a push of 46-9.75.
In the 100-meter dash, Tyson Bork of Hills-Beaver Creek placed 10th in the prelims in 11.57, and Matt Stubbe of Jackson County Central was 12th, in 11.61. Neither ran in the finals.
The Luverne 4x400-meter boys relay team of Jordy Thone, Ashton Sandbulte, Dooyema and Nicholas Kiers was fifth, in a time of 3:28.01. Luverne’s 4x800 team of Brayden Tofteland, Dalton DeSollar, Kiers and Thome was 15th in 8:38.70.
Southwest Christian/Edgerton (Payton Bork, Levi Van Dyken, Jonathan Eisma and Pater) placed eighth overall in the 4x800 with an 8:18.30 clocking.