In competition May 20 at the Class 2A Co-Ed State Track and Field Meet at Drake Stadium, the Beckman Blazers placed in the top 20 of their events.
Maria Kruse ran to 13th in the 3,000-meter event with a time of 11:38.67. The event was won by Mid-Prairie’s Danielle Hostetler in 10:25.26.
“Maria had a tough time of it on Thursday,” said coach Todd Troutman. “She had gone home from school coming down with something and that, combined with the muggy conditions and early pace, made it a tough race for her. She wasn’t able to match her best time of the year but she gutted it out and has a tremendous amount to be proud of this spring. Anytime you end your year at state means you had a very good year.”
The shuttle hurdle team of Abby Knepper, Makayla Koelker, Nell McDermott and Addie Koelker placed 17th in a time of 1:12.17. Osage took the title in 1:06.25 and Cascade was second (1:07.05). The Cougars had taken first at the Jesup qualifier May 13 where the Blazers were second.
“The team went to state seeded 21st and ran a very clean race, improving to 17th overall. This group ran together for only three times due to injuries, at the WaMaC meet, the district and, finally, state. They got better each time they ran,” added Troutman.
On the boys’ side, Wyatt Schulte placed 11th in discus with a throw of 134-5. The winning toss was from Jesup’s Carson Lienau (165-5).
The 4x400 team of Nick Hageman, Trent Koelker, Nathan Schaefer, Cayden Gassmann placed fifth by virtue of time, a season-best for them, (3:28.44) but spiked the baton at the finish and was disqualified. Underwood took the title in 3:25.42. The 4x200 team of Johan Platel, Koelker, Hageman, Schaefer ended in 12th place with a time of 1:32.93. The race was won by Unity Christian in 1:28.58. Those same four ran the sprint medley and placed 12th (1:37.48) in a race also won by Unity Christian in a state-record time (1:31.76). Spirit Lake took second and also broke the existing state record (1:32.75). The 4x100 team with Platel, Koelker, Lane Kramer, Schaefer ended in 17th place (45.05), in a race won by OABIG in 42.80.
“All four relays we took to state improved their district and state seeds,” said Troutman. “The 4x200 dropped their time by over a half a second from District and ran under 1:33 the first time this year. The 4x100 jumped five spots from their 22 seed and ended 17th. For having only limited time to work on hand-offs with Lane in place of Cayden, they performed really well.
“The 4x400 ended up qualifying in fifth place for finals, beating their 12th seed. Cayden had pulled his hamstring two weeks earlier and had spent every day working with trainer Emily Burkle to try to get to run. He passed his final test with her on Tuesday and we decided the 4x4 was probably the only race we would consider since it is the least ‘explosive’ of the four relays he normally runs. It was great to see him compete so well and a tremendous relief to see him end up exhausted but healthy.
“Saturday morning we started with the Sprint med and ran a season-best time, moving up from our district seed of 18th to 12th. Nick ran a great anchor to hold off the Spirit Lake anchor and win our heat.
“We finished the meet with the 4x4 and once again dropped some time, running a season-best of 3:28.44, for fifth. Unfortunately, we found out later we had been disqualified when our anchor threw the baton to the ground when leaving the track. It was not done out of anger or frustration, simply exhaustion, but it is a violation of the rules and the officials did what they had to do and we accept that.
“I told Cayden and the guys we don’t need a medal or an official time to know and be proud of what they accomplished. For us to even make it to State in all four relays without Cayden took a great team effort by everyone stepping up: Nate in the sprint med, Johan in the 4x200, Lane in the 4x100 and Jude Brehm huge in the 4x400, who ran the time of his life at districts because he had to, to qualify his team.
“Cayden came back from a hamstring injury faster than anyone I have seen and ran the best two 400’s of his life on very little training for two weeks. The disqualification does not diminish what we accomplished. We crossed the finish line in the fifth-fastest time in 2A and taking away our points and medals does not change that. We feel a little disappointment now, but by a long shot, we feel more pride in the accomplishments of our team.”