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County schools send numerous athletes to Class A State track meet

Esko junior Kailee Kiminski nears the finish line in the 800-meter race at the 7A High School Track and Field Championship meet at the University of Minnesota-Duluth last Thursday. She won the event. Steve Kuchera/ 1 / 2
Craig Nelson (from left) and Jon Evenson of Moose Lake-Willow River and Proctor's Frank Deluca near the finish line in the boys 200-meter dash at the 7A High School Track and Field Championship meet at the University of Minnesota-Duluth Thursday. Steve Kuchera/ 2 / 2

For Kailee Kiminski of Esko, reaching the Minnesota state track and field meet is almost old hat.

The Esko junior was a double winner at last Thursday’s Section 7A meet at UMD’s Malosky Stadium in  the 1600-meter and 800-meter runs, and she nearly made up a 30-yard deficit running the anchor leg in the 4x400 relay, leading the Eskomos to a second-place finish in that event.

But what makes Kiminski even more special is that the upcoming state meet will mark her fifth consecutive year appearing at State. You do the math.

From her first year of eligibility as a seventh-grader, Kiminski has reached State in at least one event. And that never gets old.

“Each year it’s as exciting as the year before,” Kiminski said. “It never gets old.”

Kiminski  learns something every time she travels to Hamline University for the big meet — and has come a long way since seventh grade.

“The first time I was really nervous,” she said, “but it got better. I remember talking with my coaches the first time I was there and I was really worried. But it does get easier.”

Now Kiminski is one of the top Class A runners in the state in her events and breezed to victory in her individual races last Thursday.

She ran a 2:21:01 in the 800 to defeat Cromwell-Wright’s Andrea Hakamaki by five seconds, and earlier beat Proctor’s Hannah Bettendorf by nearly six seconds in the “metric mile,” the 1600 meters, which she won in 5:22.80.

In the 4x400, Kiminski teamed with Alexis Smalley, Ava Gonsorowski and Olivia Rengo to take second place and reach State in that event as well.

But don’t try to get Kiminski thinking about her state competition.

“I haven’t looked at any times for anyone else or anything and I don’t really want to,” she said. “I’m just going to go there and run and do what I love. I just run my race and that’s all I can do. It doesn’t really matter what I am ranked. I’m going to go and have fun.”

But Kiminski still has goals.

“I’d love to medal in both my individual events and the relay too,” she said. “That would be awesome. I’d like to bring some medals home.”

The state meet is June 6-7 at Hamline University and the atmosphere will be a lot different.

“The crowd is big and it’s all around the track,” she said. “That’s what really gets me going, it’s the crowd and how many people are there. Hearing all those people yelling and cheering is great.”

That would leave only one more goal for Kiminski — reaching State next year as well for a sixth consecutive year.

“Oh, my gosh,” she said. “It would be awesome. I couldn’t really put words to it. I have been wanting to do that (reach state in all six years of prep eligibility) since seventh grade.  I’d be really happy.”

subhed: Moose Lake-Willow River

Also “happy” to advance to State is Moose Lake-Willow River senior Jon Evenson, who had a strong section meet as well.

Evenson was a double winner, taking the 100 meters in 11.26 seconds after setting a Polar League record in that event earlier in the spring, and adding to that with a school record leap of 21 feet, 5 inches in the long jump to qualify in a second event.

Evenson, who will walk on as a linebacker for UMD’s football team in the fall, added a fourth-place finish in a loaded field in the 200 meters as well.

subhed: Esko

Esko’s boys edged out Moose Lake-Willow River by three points to take the team championship in a very competitive event, with Mesabi East finishing third. Esko’s girls were the top Carlton County finishers in team standings, taking third place behind a dominant International Falls team and a solid team from Proctor.

subhed: Carlton County athletes headed to State Class A Meet


100 meters — Jon Evenson, ML-WR

110 hurdles — Jacob Tucker, Esko

4x100 relay — Esko (Brandt Hintsala, Rick Johnson, Cal Beaudot and Alex DeRocher)

4x200 relay — Esko (Brandt Hintsala, Rick Johnson, Seth Shingledecker and Alex DeRocher)

4 x 200 relay — Moose Lake-Willow River (David Moonen, Josh Pettersen, Milan Dragicevich and Jon Evenson)

High Jump — Cal Beaudot, Esko

Long Jump — Jon Evenson, ML-WR

Shot Put — Jacob Lindstrom, Esko

Shot Put — Travis Bryce, Wrenshall

Discus — Jacob Lindstrom, Esko


100 meters — Karina Cisar, ML-WR

200 meters — Karina Cisar, ML-Wr

800 meters — Kailee Kiminski, Esko

800 meters — Andrea Hakamaki, Cromwell-Wright

1,600 meters — Kailee Kiminski, Esko

4x100 relay — Esko (Alexis Smalley, Erika Shady, Olivia Rengo and Kaylee Monahan)

4x200 relay — Esko (Alexis Smalley, Erika Shady, Ava Gonsorowski and Olivia Rengo)

4x400 relay — Esko (Alexis Smalley, Ava Gonsorowski, Kailee Kiminski and Olivia Rengo)

4x800 relay — Cromwell-Wright (Andrea Hakamaki, Bailey Gronner, Rachel Hutar and Allie Cahoon)

Long Jump — Kennedy Bryant, ML-WR

Discus — Samantha Suhonen, Cromwell-Wright