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Youth is no problem for Barnum girls team

Barnum eighth-grader Sophie Richardson runs the anchor leg of the 4x100-meter race. Richardson, Gracie Nelson, Danna Weets and Rosie Richardson won the event at the Eagle Invitational last Thursday at East Central High School. Dave Harwig/ 1 / 3
Barnum eighth-grader Makenzee Schleret runs to victory in 1 minutes, 4.83 seconds in the 400-meter dash during Thursday afternoon's track meet at East Central High School. Dave Harwig/ 2 / 3
Moose Lake-Willow River junior Sam Coil throws the shotput during Thursday's track meet at East Central. Coil placed secondin the event with a throw of 46 feet, 7.5 inches. Dave Harwig/ 3 / 3

A very young Barnum girls track team took second place out of 12 teams entered at last weekend’s Eagle Invitational at East Central High School — surprising everyone except, perhaps, their coaches.

“Most of our kids, and a lot of our girls, are in grades 7-9, coach Daimen LaFave said. “We’ve got about 50 out for the team and out of those, about 30 are below sophomore grade.”

Eighth-grader Sophie Richardson did the double in the 100 and 200 meters, winning in 13.70 and 29.19 seconds respectively, with fellow eighth-grader Danna Weets taking fourth in the 200.

Eighth-grader Makenzee Schleret and freshman Esther Vogt went 1-2 in the 400 meters for 18 team points as well, with Vogt posting a fifth-place finish in the 800.

A scary-young 4x100 relay team of freshman Rosie Richardson, eighth-graders Weets, Gracie Nelson and Sophie Richardson won by a full second, doing the Class of 2020 proud. Nelson, Weets and Schleret were joined by freshman Taylor Westendorf on the second-place 4x200 team and Vogt, Rosie Richardson and Schleret were joined by seventh-grader Ellie Varo for a second-place finish in the 4x400 relay.

Eighth-grader Alexis Bonneville won the discus by two feet as well.

“These girls are going to make a statement as far as Barnum track and field goes,” LaFave added. “It’s really fun watching them now, but it’s going to be even more fun watching some of these kids grow into their competition.”

Moose Lake-Willow River’s girls were fourth and Carlton’s eighth in the meet. Bulldog junior Erika Fox won the two-mile run by 15 seconds to earn team points, with the Rebels’ 4x200 team of Kennedy Bryant, Kiersten Evenson, Lauren Hartman and seventh-grader Skyla Thompson edging out Barnum’s team at the wire. Bryant also won the long jump, while Carlton’s Ashley Anderson was second in the shot.

On the boys’ side, Barnum was ninth out of 11 teams, with Moose Lake-Willow River finishing second and Carlton 10th.

“We are building on the boys side,” LaFave said. “Kyle Shelton ran the 800 last year at sections and we have (junior) Parker Shelgren in the weight events who we hope will have a strong year. Tim Vogt runs the 800 and mile for us and is improving quickly as well.”

But, like the girls team, the Bombers have a number of younger athletes who provide some hope for the future.

Seventh-grader Reid Cornivich (100 and 200 meters), eighth-grader Everett Fitzsimmons (100 and 200 meters) and freshman Dakota Litfin (triple jump) are highlights for the Bombers.

“We do have a lot of nice young kids,” LaFave said. “We’re nothing but ecstatic after last year.”

The boys meet belonged to the Rebels, though, with sophomores Ethan Olson and Nick Furey finishing 2-4 in the 800 meters, while Olson won the 1600 meters outright with junior Aaron Bode fourth. Joe Bustrak was third in the two-mile run with both the 4x400 and 4x800 teams finishing second. Isaac Riihiluoma won the triple jump and Sam Coil was second in the shot put, with Barnum’s Shelgren third in the discus.

For the Barnum boys, though, patience is the key.

“We tell the young kids the same thing my freshman coach told me,” LaFave said. “You may not win today but as long as you keep improving, you’re going to get to a point where you eventually will win. These kids know they are headed in the right direction. We are a couple of years away from starting a pipeline of good young athletes, hopefully all the way to state.”