ST. PAUL - Shortly after crossing the finish line in the Class A boys 3,200 meters, while other runners were still catching their breath or wilting like flowers in the near 90-degree heat, Geno Uhrbom was already looking ahead.
"One step closer," Uhrbom said.
Uhrbom was referring to the "Triple Crown" of Minnesota distance racing. He already won the Class A cross country title last fall, and on Friday at the state track and field championships at Hamline University, he took the 3,200 meters in dominating fashion. Next up, Saturday's 1,600.
"I didn't come here for a time. I just wanted to win," Uhrbom said. "I wasn't going for no record."
Uhrbom won in a personal-record 9 minutes, 24.07 seconds, topping his previous best of 9:33.44 in finishing third last year.
Win or lose Saturday in what will surely be a more closely contested 1,600 - how couldn't it be? - Uhrbom further cemented his budding place in the pantheon of Northland distance running greats. What's scary about Friday is how easy he made it look.
"I haven't been pushed in the 3,200 this year. Not at all," Uhrbom said.
Last week at sections, Uhrbom Sunday strolled it for six laps before closing the final 800 meters in a blistering 2:11, but on Friday, Uhrbom wasn't going to wait around to see who had the best finishing kick. He burst to the lead on the third lap and didn't leave room for anyone to draft or stick with him. He was gone.
"It was just too slow of a pace," Uhrbom said. "Maybe it was too early. I was thinking to myself, 'Did I take off too early?' Well, it was too late to back off now."
Brandon O'Hara was second more than 10 seconds back in 9:35.80, while Two Harbors sophomore Isaac Swanson, who had been running near the front, faded to finish eighth in 9:54.01.
Uhrbom said he had not run in anything higher than 75 degrees until Friday.
"I overestimated the heat. I felt great," Uhrbom said. "The heat didn't get to me once. It should be a lot warmer (Saturday) since our race is in the middle of the day. I don't worry about the heat, because I can run in it. I use it to my advantage, because I'm strong enough to handle it."
Mentally and physically.
"Some runners just hate the heat, and they use that against themselves," he said. "I was nice and toasty warm. You've got to enjoy it. We don't get this in northern Minnesota."
Uhrbom clearly took it easier against the wind on the front straightaway before cranking it up around the corner. He appeared to float with the breeze down the backstretch.
Uhrbom only had the one wheeler competitor in an outer lane to keep him company in the closing laps.
"Oh, I looked back," Uhrbom admitted. "Everyone kept screaming, 'Gooo!!!' like he was right behind me, but I realized my lead was safe. I didn't want it to come down to the end."
Barnum junior Alexis Bonneville didn't stick around on the podium long. She had family pictures to take in the sector after finishing third in the discus with a mark of 124-5, not far off her school-record 127-3.
"It wasn't what I wanted to throw, but I'm not complaining," she said.
Bonneville's younger brother, Louie, age 5, is already trying to show her how it's done.
"Louie was pouting because I took a photo with my sister Breiana on my back, so he had to get a photo on my back, too," Bonneville said.
Twenty meters into the boys 100, GNK junior Dylan DeChampeau felt something pop. Not good.
Despite being in obvious pain, DeChampeau limped down the track before collapsing upon crossing the finish line.
"I came here to finish," he said.
DeChampeau was helped off the track to nice applause from the crowd. He apparently pulled his left hamstring. Afterward, he was on crutches.
"I don't think I stretched good enough," DeChampeau said while adding he has never had injury issues before. "I just have to stay off of it. I couldn't raise my foot off the table at all."
DeChampeau said unless his leg "magically feels betters" he will not compete Saturday in his other individual event, the high jump. DeChampeau is one of the Northland's best athletes. Listed at 6-foot-6, Greenway's all-time leading basketball scorer was already playing on varsity as a seventh grader and starting as an eighth-grader. He has topped 2,000 career points and the wide receiver had about 10 touchdown receptions after going back out for football last fall.
In track, he finished second at sections in both the 100 (11.24) and high jump (6-2) in personal records while also being part of GNK's runner-up 400 relay.
DeChampeau is undecided on college.
"It could be football or basketball, maybe some track. We'll see," DeChampeau said. "Basketball is my favorite, but football was just great last fall. We almost made it to state, and that was exciting."
Lilya defends title
Moose Lake-Willow River senior Danny Lilya defended his title in the wheelchair shot put with a toss of 20 feet, 7.5 inches.
Lilya has a personal record 22-3 in the event, believed to be the state's all-time best.
"I felt a little off, but it was a decent throw, still good enough to win," Lilya said.
A lot of athletes felt off Friday, and with the temperature hitting 90 degrees with plenty of sun, can you blame them? Conditions were draining. Saturday is expected to be more of the same as Lilya, who plans on studying air traffic control at North Dakota, will go after his first state discus title.
Lilya is more refined and stronger this year, with a bench press of 240 pounds, and it's showing in increased distances this year.
"I'm going for first, for sure," Lilya said. "Last year I was throwing with the wrong weight in the discus, and I was like, 'oh no,' but we got that figured out this year."
200-meter wheelchair - 1. Blake Eaton, Duluth Denfeld, 35.70 seconds (Class AA record); 3,200 - 1. Isaac Basten, Buffalo, 9:09.96; 2. Acer Iverson, Roseville Area, 9:12.50;16. Jordan Allen, Cloquet, 10:15.50; triple jump - 1. Ian Fosdick, Mahtomedi, 48 feet, 1 inch; 2. Edmund Ocansey, Champlin Park, 46-8; 3. Wryott Gerson, Duluth Denfeld, 46-3.5.
3,200 - 1. Lauren Peterson, Rosemount, 10:38.03; 2. Analee Weaver, Stillwater Area, 10:40.19; high jump - 1. Madison Schmidt, Blaine, 5-10 (tied Class AA and all-time record); 2. Madison Johnson, Benilde-St Margaret’s, 5-9; 8. (tie) Olivia Jameson, Cloquet, 5-2.
3,200 - 1. Geno Uhrbom, Greenway/Nashwauk-Keewatin, 9:24.07; 2. Brandon O’Hara, Perham, 9:35.80; 8. Isaac Swanson, Two Harbors, 9:54.01; wheelchair 3,200 - 1. Tyler Shepersky, United North Central, 9:25.26; wheelchair 800 - 1. Shepersky, United North Central, 2:13.95; pole vault - 1. Jacob Munsch, Plainview-Elgin-Millville, 15-0; 2. Austin Schloeder, Rockford, 14-6; 19. Jack Maxwell, International Falls, 12-6. Scratch: Jackson Thompson, Moose Lake-Willow River, no height; triple jump - 1. Matthias Algarin, Pierz, 45-3.75; 2. Preston Dahlen, International School of Minnesota, 44-6; 8. Derek Wester, Deer River/Northland, 42-2.25; 10. Eric Omerza, Ely, 41-6.25; shot put - 1. Shane Byrne, Stewartville, 56-3.5; 2. David Roddy, Breck, 55-9.25; 13. Sam Goodwin, Barnum, 47-7.5; 16. Christopher Jacklen, Virginia, 41-5. wheelchair shot put (category 1) - 1. Danny Lilya, Moose Lake-Willow River, 20-7.5; 2. Ben Bode, St. Peter, 18-3.75; wheelchair shot put (category 2) - 1. Luke Johnston, Medford, 21-11.50 (Class A and all-time record); 2. Riley Steinbach, St. Clair/Immanuel Lutheran, 9-11.75.
3,200 - 1. Lauren Ping, Cotter, 10:39.34; 2. Grace Ping, Cotter, 10:50.19; 17. Sydney Binsfield, Proctor, 12:43.05; 18. Emma Stattelman, Duluth Marshall, 12:48.35; high jump - 1. Madi Schirmer, Maple River, 5-4; 2. Madi Wagendorf, Park Christian, 5-3; 9. (tie) Natalie Fultz, Eveleth-Gilbert, 5-0; long jump - 1. Robbie Grace, Blake, 19-1.5; 2. Karley Motschenb, Park Christian, 17-11.75; 15. Brielle Kallberg, Ely, 15-10; 16. Shaily Hakamaki, Cromwell-Wright, 15-10; discus - 1. Desera Engholm, Pequot Lakes 131-4; 2. Elizabeth Pahl, Osakis, 127-8; Alexis Bonneville, Barnum, 124-5; 10. Elle Ridge, South Ridge Area, 105-1; wheelchair discus - 1. Lilly Stiernagle, Maple River, 24-1.