Improving on last year's third-place finish will be a challenge for the Minot High School girls track and field team. Bismarck High, Bismarck Century and West Fargo will bring loaded rosters to the state meet at the Bismarck Community Bowl as one of the Majettes' all-time great sprinters is recovering from an injury.
The meet begins at 9:30 a.m. today with the parade of athletes.
MHS senior star Morgan Milbrath is recovering from a strained hamstring suffered in late April. The nine-time state champion won the 100-, 200- and 400-meter dashes and 300 hurdles in 2012, but will only compete individually in the open 200 and 400 this weekend. How she fares in the preliminaries will determine whether she will be added to two relays.
"Being able to go out there and even finish a race is gonna be a milestone at this point," Milbrath said Wednesday.
In one last bid to qualify in the 300 hurdles, Milbrath was unable to finish the race at the West Region meet last week.
The North Dakota State University signee didn't put a percentage on her status, but has been working closely with Trinity Health athletic trainer Kevin Melby.
"He was up here today, just trying to push me because he really knows, kind of, what the limits are," Milbrath said. "He's up here, you know, just telling me when to keep going hard or just to hold that pace and just trying to get me to go faster to try and really get working here."
Milbrath knows one speed - very fast - and said trying to pace herself and not overexert during workouts is difficult.
"They try telling me at practice to run half speed, run three-quarters speed and I'm like, 'I don't know what that is,' " she said. "You know what I mean? I just go and run."
The rest of the Majettes will need to take a similar simple approach as Milbrath no longer represents the 40 points she racked up handily last year. Sophomore sprinter and jumper Sophie Bengson will compete in the 400 and 800 relays, triple jump and 300 hurdles.
Bengson emerged as a top triple jumper and her best jump of 35 feet, eight inches was the sixth-best qualifying mark in Class A.
"I don't really know what I expect to finish, but I'm just gonna go out there and perform my best and hopefully I'll come out pretty high up there," Bengson said.
MHS coach Michelle Hoff is optimistic about her team's relays, especially the 1600 combination of freshman Kylie Alexander, sophomore Madison Milbrath and seniors Samantha Huether and Loni Bryantt.
The girls enter the meet with the fourth-best mark of 4:04.67. Fargo North has the top time of 4:01.21.
"Fargo North, Century and ourselves, I think we can all get around that four-minute mark, so if we run as well as we did at (West Region) last weekend, I think we can have a battle for that one," Hoff said.
The 400 relay of Bengson, Bryantt, Madison Milbrath and freshman De'Chelle Roby will contend for a title. The group's qualifying time of 50.58 is less than a second off top qualifier Fargo North. Relay lineups are subject to change.
The Majettes will try to gain points in field events with throwers junior Else Nelson in the shot put and sophomores Jessica Drady and MacKenzie Gleason in the discus.
The team will keep a close watch on Morgan Milbrath's progress today. She is disappointed at not having a chance to repeat in all four events won last year, but is excited by the possibility of running relays.
"That's the whole point is to try to get points for the team and get a good team finish," Milbrath said, "and if I can fill in and help fill out some spots and get some team points that would be great."
Today's Class A girls finals include the open 1600, 3200 relay, triple jump, discus and high jump.