The RVHS Cardinal boys and girls track teams competed in six events at the state meet over the weekend; a number of medals were placed around the necks of local athletes, to include one state championship, two runner-up placings and several all-state finishes.
The RVHS Cardinal boys and girls track teams competed in six events at the state meet over the weekend. At the end of competition, a number of medals were placed around the necks of local athletes, to include one state championship, two runner-up placings and several all-state finishes. Of those six events, five competed Friday night to qualify for finals Saturday. According to Andy Regnier, RVHS varsity track head coach, of the five preliminary events, four qualified for the finals. Competition for the Cardinals started with the boys 4x100, who ran a season best for this group, of 44.19. They finished third in their heat and would be seeded sixth going into finals. The 4X100 team would finish on the medal stand in fifth place. The weather was a cool Saturday after some storms rolled through earlier in the day, leading to slower sprint times than the day before, explained Regnier. “Our group hit their hand-offs pretty smoothly and ran well, finishing in fifth place in a time of 44.62, .5 seconds from second place,” he said. “This a group that worked all year to become cohesive and do everything they could to earn this state medal.” Led by sprint captain and the heart of our sprint crew, Jacob Prouty, and anchored by senior second year runner Thane Widmer, with Jacob Angermeyr and Thomas Buboltz stepping in the middle they did everything asked of them. “To end up our first sprint relay team to place in state during my tenure...they should be proud,” said Regnier. Kayla Huhnerkoch had a great race in the 1600 said Regnier. After winning in 2011, she had a bad hamstring in 2012 that really hurt her training and sprint speed. That year she still took second in the 1600 to the future state meet record holde, and seventh in the 3200. Last year, 2013, she was still unable to shake that hamstring injury, which led to other sore areas in her body, like her hip, presumably from overcompensating for that hamstring. “Last year she was heartbroken when we had to shut her season down and think of the long-term,” said Regnier. “She worked hard through therapy and strength training and busted her butt more than anyone I’ve ever seen to be back on top, and she would do it in this race. “Kayla positioned herself beautifully, answered moves by other athletes and took control with 300 meters to go to explode away from the field with a strong move to win comfortably with a time of 5:03.02 (2.5 seconds ahead of second, Section 3A runner Nichole Slater of Adrian). Kayla ran a great race, and would now have about 40 minutes to recover and prepare for the oh-so-tough 1600-800 state meet double.” Huhnerkoch ran the 800 prelims and took nothing for granted, breaking her previous school record of 2:16.16, which was set while winning the state championship in 2011. That would make her the two seed going into the finals behind Liz Miller of Watertown Mayer. “Kayla was racing a fresh Liz Miller from Watertown-Mayer who was seeded about .5 seconds ahead of her going into finals,” said Regnier. “As the gun would sound, it became obvious that Miller’s strategy was to punish Kayla for the 1600 and try to take her legs out early, or break away from Kayla if Kayla was tired. “Kayla moved with her, turning this into a two person race only 200 meters into the race. At the halfway point, Miller was at 1:03, and Kayla 1:03.5. Kayla surged to grab on with 300 to go, then made her move and gapped Miller by eight feet with 150 meters to go. Miller was fresh and strong, added Regnier, as Kayla was fighting with everything she had to hold off the athlete who hadn't had a race that day. With about 70 meters to go, Miller fought back and caught Kayla. Kayla would fight to hold her off for about 10 meters, but with 60 meters to go, Miller’s fresh legs were just too much for Huhnerkoch to hold off, as she would finish in second in a time of 2:15.01, breaking her own school record again and eclipsing her state championship time in 2011 by more than a second. “Kayla can look in the mirror and be proud that she laid it on the line and gave her everything to try and double up in the toughest (physiologically) double in the state meet,” said Regnier. Ryan Phillips came into his 800 and was going to have a tall task to run any faster than the show he put on at Redwood Falls in the Section meet when he ran a Section, stadium and new school record time of 1:55.41. Phillips ran away with his heat finishing in a time of 1:54.80 resetting his school record, almost four full seconds ahead of the previous record holders. He would go into the finals the two seed behind Shane Streich of Waseca, who ran a 1:51 in his heat of prelims and had by far the fastest 800 time regardless of class. “Ryan had a very tall task trying to compete with Shane Streich, who set the state meet record earlier in the day in the 1600 with a 4:13.80,” said Regnier. “Ryan ran a great race, positioning himself, not panicking after almost getting tripped 200 meters into his race and fighting to take the lead with about 250 meters to go in the race, only to be forced outside by Streich who proved to be too much for anyone in the state to handle this weekend. “Ryan poured his heart out there and finished a phenomenal career with a runner-up medal in the 800.” His time in finals was 1:57.10, as the entire pack was racing more strategic than attacking and only got out in a 59 second first lap. Ryan’s career for RVHS has now come to an end, said Regnier, but it has been a very memorable one – setting school records in the open 400 earlier this year, crushing the 800 record last year, and demolishing it again with a 1:54.80. “That's a record that will be tough to beat,” said Regnier. “Ryan is headed to UND in Grand Forks next year to pursue commercial aviation and has not fully decided on whether or not he'll continue his track and field career at the next level, as his academic schedule will be very demanding and must be a priority.” The girls 4x400 would have to run a fantastic race in a very fast field, and they ran a season and personal best time of 4:07.85. Mary Fixsen led off to Alaina Goblirsch, who passed the baton to Lexi Kodet, with Kayla Huhner-koch running the final leg. They broke the previous school record of 4:08.05 set by Fixsen, Huhnerkoch, Katie Ellingworth and Gabi Swoboda at the Section meet in 2011. This time would place them fourth in their heat and squeeze them into the final spot of finals Saturday, as the number nine seed. “The girls came in seeded ninth in the nine team final,” said Regnier. “They were in the outside leg, and Kayla had already run a state championship mile and runner up in the 800 shortly before this 4x400. The other three girls were fresh. “They ran their hearts out in an incredibly competitive field and would end up eighth in a time of 4:08.32 making them all-state athletes. This is a group that started the year running the 4x400 around 4:24, and ended it by being all-state athletes and our school’s all-time record holder in the 4x400. It’s pretty cool what can happen with hard work and belief.” The boys 4X400 of Ryan Phillips, Thane Widmer, Wes Peyerl and Jacob Prouty would run a great prelim race to finish fourth in their heat with a season and personal best time of 3:27.72 after qualifying with a time of 3:29. Their prelim performance would make them the sixth seed going into finals Saturday against an incredibly tough field. The boys 4X400 set a personal best of 3:27.72 in the prelims, and in the finals, they’d run even faster in a great field of teams. “All four athletes ran great legs and with 100 meters to go in the race, we were in four-way tie for third, but some of the horses of the other teams just squeaked away from us, placing us in sixth place, with a blazing time of 3:26.82, one second behind third, and three seconds ahead of seventh. What a great race for these guys,” said Regnier. Thane Widmer was on the inside lane on his soon-to-be college track at Hamline Un-iversity in the 300 hurdles.
According to Reg-nier, Widmer was out to an outstanding start with 100 meters to go in his prelims. “Unfortunately, with about three hurdles to go he hit the hurdle with his front leg, and these hurdles are weighted even heavier than ours,” said Reg-nier. “It snapped back and caught his trail leg bringing him to a painful confrontation with the track and his spikes gouging into his leg. He got up, continued on, fell over another hurdle and was able to at least finish his race. After 30 minutes in the medical tent, he came out and said he'd find a way to run his leg of the 4x400. Had he not fallen, there is no doubt in my mind that Thane would have made finals.” Overall, I couldn’t be any prouder of these young men and wom-en, added Regnier. “They bought into what we coaches have asked of them,” he said. “They poured their hearts, souls and sweat into their team and sport. “They have earned every bit of what they got at the state meet this weekend. The girls finished tied for sixth as a team, while the boys were 17th.” Every Redwood athlete who went to state, came home an all-state athlete. “They performed on the biggest stage and can always hold that memory and accomplishment, as few athletes can ever say they’ve been all-state,” said Regnier. “The lessons they’ve learned about hard-work, teamwork, sacrifice and commitment will now be carried over into the next phase of their lives for Phillips, Angermeyr, Widmer, and Peyerl. “The rest will be back and hungry to continue getting better and representing our school and community.”