Rugby shines in Day 1 of the state track & field meet

Justin Martinez/MDN Rugby senior Anni Stier (left) runs down the home stretch with Parhall’s Cedar Hall (right) during the 400-meter dash on Friday in the state track & field meet at the MDU Resources Community Bowl.

BISMARCK — This one was for the team.

Points, not individual recognition, were all that Rugby’s Anni Stier had on her mind as she walked up to the starting line of the 300-meter hurdles on Friday at the state track & field meet. It was the first preliminary event of the day, and the senior was looking to get her team off to a strong start.

In her way were much more than just the literal hurdles, though, as the rain began to fall down on those at the MDU Resources Community Bowl. Although it dampened her clothes, it didn’t dampen her spirits.

“I just reminded myself that everyone has to run in the same conditions,” Stier said. “I was just thinking about making finals and getting points for my team.”

Stier got into her position. After a brief silence, the starting gun went off and the race began.

Justin Martinez/MDN Bishop Ryan senior Ben Bohl (left) carries the baton during the 4x200 meter relay on Friday in the state track & field meet at the MDU Resources Community Bowl.

Stier cleared the hurdles with ease but struggled initially to gain separation as she remained neck and neck with a number of other runners. But that changed when the pack turned the corner.

The senior switched into a whole other gear that the rest of the group didn’t have and left them all in the rearview mirror. With plenty of breathing room, Stier crossed the finish line for a first-place heat finish with a time of 48.14 seconds.

The stellar performance proved to be contagious as both the boys and girls for Rugby put on a show in Day 1 of the state track & field meet.

“A lot of people don’t think about track as a team sport, but it is,” Stier said. “These meets matter because they help our team with what we want to do (at state), which is really good things.”

Among other Panthers to make their presences known was Kristina Brossart. The junior claimed first in Heat 3 of the 100-meter dash (12.80 seconds) and followed that up with a third-place finish in the 200-meter dash (26.81 seconds) to qualify for her second finals event.

Senior Maria Blessum kept the ball rolling in the 100-meter hurdles with a first-place finish (16.39 seconds) in Heat 2 to qualify for finals.

Stier had another strong showing with a second-place finish in the 400-meter dash (1:01.81 seconds), but the crowning achievement came courtesy of Brooke Blessum.

The sophomore secured first place in the finals of the long jump with a distance of 17 feet, 3.5 inches. The Rugby girls team finished tied for second on the day with 12 points, trailing only Thompson (20).

Juniors Keith Vetsch, Cody Jundt, Devan Michels and Corey Mattern then led the way for the Panthers on the boys’ side. The group teamed up for second-place finishes in both the 4×100-meter relay and the 4×200-meter relay.

JD Matehs also took care of business by taking second in Heat 3 of the 110-meter hurdles with a time of 16.12 to advance to the finals.

But the sophomore fell short of qualifying in the 300-meter hurdles due to Des Lacs-Burlington/Lewis & Clark’s Darien Hauf. The senior took second with a time of 40.96 seconds to qualify, besting Matehs by a mere .09 seconds.

Hauf was one of three Lakers athletes to qualify for a finals, as senior Kyley Lauf placed third (1:01.87 seconds) in Heat 3 of the 400-meter dash and junior Sara Bonn claimed second (16.88 seconds) in Heat 3 of the 100-meter hurdles.

Not to be forgotten, the Bishop Ryan boys team also qualified for one finals event. Seniors Leonard Niess, Ben Bohl, Mason Hedberg and Rubensky Lormejuste joined forces to claim third in Heat 3 of the 4×200-meter relay with a time of 1:36.69.

The group had hopes of qualifying once again in the 4×100-meter relay but ultimately settled for sixth in Heat 3 due to some costly handoff miscues. Still, the seniors will be back at it tomorrow along with the rest of the finalists from an action-packed Day 1.

“We would have liked to have had another relay qualify, but things happened there with handoffs and such,” Ryan head coach Brian Rodgers said. “But, all in all, the kids are in good spirits after a pretty dreary day with the rain and cold.”

Day 2 of the state track & field meet is set to begin today at 8:45 p.m.

Justin Martinez covers Minot High School sports and Class B high school sports. Follow him on Twitter @JTheSportsDude.