Magicians and Majettes track & field place first at Minot Invite
Aldren Krueger took a deep breath, shook his arms and did some high knees to get loose. The storm was about to hit.
The Minot High School junior took his position for the 4×100 relay during Thursday’s Minot Mayer-Carlson Invite at Duane Carlson Stadium. His teammate, senior Devin Nehring, anxiously waited 100 meters away.
“Runners, on your mark,” the starter official yelled.
Krueger got into his stance.
“Set,” the official hollered.
Bang. The defining sound of the starting pistol accompanied by a puff of smoke filled the air as Krueger and the rest of the pack took off. The junior, firmly placed in a cluster of runners, handed the baton to Nehring.
Nehring grasped it in stride and pumped his arms back and forth as he quickly made his way to the front of the group. With his competitors on his heels, Nehring sprinted the full 100 meters and handed the baton over to Dalton Hebert at the midway point.
The rest was a blur. All that could be seen was a flash of maroon and gold blazing down the track as Hebert left the rest of the pack in the rearview mirror. By the time he gifted the baton to Payton Nelson for the final leg, the senior had a solid 10 feet of separation to work with.
“Every time I get (the baton) on that curve I just think about how fast I can go,” Hebert said. “I don’t really think about anyone else. I just get it in my hand and take off.”
Nelson never looked back. The senior dashed down the home stretch as Krueger and Nehring ran along the track to cheer their teammate on. Nelson crossed the finish line with time to spare, clocking in at a state-qualifying time of 45.35 seconds.
The dominant showing proved to be just one of many by Minot High as both the Magicians and the Majettes claimed first place with team scores of 259 and 337, respectively.
“It’s a fun day when you get so many kids qualifying,” Magi head coach Chauncy Hendershot said. “We got a home meet on a nice day, and a lot of guys improved their marks.”
“It’s exciting to see where we’re at and get kids qualifying,” Majettes coach Melissa Solper added. “It carries us off and gets us excited for the next race.”
Also dominating the field for the Magi was Triston Emke. After a first-place finish in the 300-meter hurdles (40.51 seconds), the junior gave fans an encore in the 110-meter hurdles.
Emke cleared each hurdle without breaking stride and crossed the finish line nearly two seconds ahead of his closest competitor for another first-place finish (15.87 seconds).
“I was blessed with some long legs that are perfect for hurdles,” Emke joked. “I tried to just focus on the next hurdle and the one after that until I got to the finish…This is definitely a nice start to the year.”
In total, the Magi had 10 first-place finishes on the day. Not to be outdone, the Majettes also had their fair share of success.
One of the stronger showings came from freshman MaLiah Burke, who did much more than hold her own amongst the upperclassmen. Burke claimed first place in the 100 meters and the 200 meters with times of 13.01 seconds and 27.57 seconds, respectively.
“I just ran my heart out,” said Burke, who also played for the Majettes soccer team later in the evening. “I’m really happy with how today went…It helps build momentum for the rest of the year.”
The Majettes earned nine first-place finishes on the day, the last of which came in the form of a nail biter.
After Tessa Olson, Abbie Wahlund and Allie Wahlund gave anchor Allie Nelson a sizable head start in the 4×400 relay, the junior soon found herself in an all-out sprint to the finish line.
With about 50 feet left to go, Watford City’s Kayla Ogle began to gain some ground on Nelson. The Wolves’ last hope got to within inches of the miraculous comeback but fell painstakingly short, as Nelson flashed one last burst of speed to cross the finish line.
The Majettes recorded a state-qualifying time of 4:14.01, narrowly besting Watford City’s state-qualifying time of 4:14.24.
“We’ve been trying to get that qualifying time these last three meets,” Nelson said. “It’s just really great that it could come together, especially on our home track. I know that Kayla Ogle is a very good runner, so I knew that she’d be trying to catch me. I just tried to give it all I had the last 100 meters.”
The dramatic finish was the perfect conclusion to a day in which both the Magi and Majettes made significant strides.
Next up for both groups are the Charlie Denton Relays in Bismarck on April 26. The first event is slated for 10:30 a.m.
Justin Martinez covers Minot High School sports and Class B high school sports. Follow him on Twitter @JTheSportsDude.