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State track takes its toll on area athletes

The Esko 800-meter relay team set a school record and the Minnesota State Track and Field meet.

Perhaps the best way to illustrate the immense competition level at this year’s Class A state track and field meet was to watch the Esko boys 800-meter relay team.

Not only did seniors Brandt Hintsala, Rick Johnson, Alex DeRocher and sophomore Seth Shingledecker set a school record at 1 minute, 32.88 seconds, but the speedy quartet of runners failed to advance through preliminaries.

Hintsala, Johnson, DeRocher and Esko boys Coach Gary Beaudot’s son — senior Cal — also put up a season-best 400-meter relay time of 44.91 seconds at last Friday and Saturday’s state meet at Hamline University in St. Paul.

Like the 800 team, however, they too, were one spot — or a blink of an eye — short of qualifying for the finals.

“We tried to sneak in,” said Gary Beaudot, noting his 10th place relays needed to finish within the top nine to move forward. “It was definitely some stiff competition.”

Beaudot said this spring’s poor weather may have put Carlton County a couple weeks behind their statewide foes, but like in any sport at the state level, the bar is raised higher.

The highest individual performances of the county went to Esko junior Kailee Kiminski, who ran to a fifth-place finish in the 800-meter run at 2:23.54, and a seventh-place finish in the 1,600-meter run with a time of 5:10.76.

One spot behind in eighth place in the boys shot put was Esko’s Jacob Lindstrom, as the 6-foot-4, 250-pound senior threw a 50-foot, 1-inch toss to finish his high school career. Throwing next year at the University of Minnesota-Duluth, Lindstrom also placed 12th in the discus throw at 140’4”.

Upset with his discus throw, Lindstrom was realistic.

“There were some really good throwers — you could tell one guy was just a lot better than the rest,” said Lindstrom, who medaled in shot put. “There were lots of good athletes.”

Athletes littered the long jump pits, too, according to Moose Lake-Willow River Coach Tony Andres. He said senior Jon Evenson was a place short in 10th, while seventh-grade springer Kennedy Bryant didn’t make the finals in the girls long jump either.

“You just gotta run faster and jump farther down there,” Andres said, adding senior Karina Cisar medaled in the 200-meter dash with her eighth-place time of 26.83 seconds. “It’s always pretty tough at the state tournament.”

In her final state appearance, which has now included four different events over three separate years, Cromwell-Wright senior Allie Cahoon ran for the Cardinals one last time.

A part of her small school’s back-to-back season state qualifying 3,200-meter relay team — including junior Rachel Hutar, sophomore Andrea Hakamaki and freshman Bailey Gronner — Cahoon and her teammates placed last in the event last weekend at 10:16.19, but it wasn’t of concern.

“It wasn’t the greatest,” said Cahoon of the wet, dreary Saturday of races, “but it was still enjoyable. The main goal is to get to State. It’s so much fun just to get down there.”

She too, admitted her competitors were in their top gears.

“They were at their fastest,” Cahoon said.

Competition crude for Class AA Cloquet

Fast may not explain how quick the Class AA level was.

While Cloquet freshman Evan Erickson earned a spot in the discus throw finals, Lumberjack senior sprinters Richmond Seju — in the boys 100-meter dash — and Maija Doran — in the girls 200 — couldn’t say the same, failing to advance through the preliminary rounds last weekend.

Seju will run at the University of Wisconsin-Superior next year, as will Doran at UMD. Cloquet Coach Tim Prosen said the pair’s last high school meet was a good eye-opener.

“They’re among the best in the state,” said Prosen of his two seniors, “but I told them, ‘This is like a college meet.’”

“It was an honor to run,” Doran added. “I definitely have a lot of improving to do. There are some crazy fast athletes!”