It was encouraging weekend for the Redwood Valley track and field athletes as they came how with a number of top 10 finishes at the Class A state track meet held this past Friday and Saturday at Hamline University in St. Paul.
The Cardinal girls got strong performances from freshmen Kayla Huhnerkoch and Beckycia Bowers to help the Cards place 11th overall with 22 team points.
Huhnerkoch – a two-time state champ – battled favorite Clare Flanagan of Blake to the end on the way to a second place finish in the 1,600 meter run.
Huhnerkoch ran a 5:09.07 to finish just under 10 seconds behind the favorite Flanagan who finished in 4:59.22. She also earned a seventh place finish in the 3,200 meter run (11:29.90) with Flanagan picking up gold in that race as well in a solid time of 10:44.70.
“Kayla had a great showing in the 1600, finishing second to who I believe may be the best distance runner in the state,” said Andy Regnier, RVHS track head coach. “She also finished in seventh in the 3200, and will now be spending some time getting healthy.
“She looks forward to getting healthy then training hard to get back to her mid-distance self.”
Bowers capped off a strong season with a fifth place finish in the long jump. Her jump of 16’8 3/4” was more than a foot shorter than champion Danielle Wubben of CMC who was the winner with a leap of 17’11 1/4.”
Bowers then finished in sixth place in the triple jump with a leap of 35’4 1/4.” Hailey Brinkman of Melrose Area earned gold with a leap of 37’7 3/4.”
“(Beckycia) scratched one of her long jump attempts that would have been high 17s, possibly 18’”, said Regnier, “but, a scratch is a scratch. She’s a bit disappointed with her distances, but highly motivated to be a state champion in the future.
The Cardinal boys had a nice overall weekend, finishing in 23rd overall with 14 team points.
Junior RJ Juell finished fifth in the pole vault by clearing a solid 13’3.” Defending champ Grant Krieger of Blake (15’0”) held off favorite Jake Zebedee of BEA (14’9”) for the gold. Juell also earned a sixth place finish in the long jump with a leap of 21’1” and was 10th in the high jump clearing 6’2.”
The Cardinal 4x400 relay team of Jacob Prouty, Chris Fischer, Ryan Phillips and RJ Juell were in position to reach the finals, but Juell got tangled up on the inside rail, fell and was unable to finish.
“The boys 4x400 was looking great, sitting in about fifth in their heat when our third leg, RJ, got boxed in and pushed at the 200 curve,”?said Regnier. “At Hamline, there is a large, steel rail that surrounds the inside of track one.
“He hit the rail and came crashing down inside the track, unable to get up and finish the race.”
Chris Fischer exceeded expectations, said Regnier, and all of his hard work throughout the winter and spring paid off.
He set a personal best in prelims, 15.52, and ended up in sixth place in finals of the 110 hurdles.
Phillips had a nice showing in the open 800, reaching the finals with a great time of 2:00.26 in the prelims. He would post a time of 2:04.39 in the finals to finish ninth.
Dillon Thooft capped off a nice season with a 15th place finish in the 3,200 (10:54.19).
“Overall we had a pretty nice meet, as RJ was two-time all-state, Kayla was two time all-state, Beckycia two time all-state, and Chris and Ryan were all-state,” said Regnier. “So, eight medals is a pretty good season and these kids should be proud.”