Friday, April 29, 2011

Reviewing and Previewing the Elite Meet

Down the Backstretch had the honor again this year of providing a meet review and preview for the program of tonight's Hamline Elite Meet.

To get folks in the mood for meet -- whether they plan to attend in person or follow the action live on
DtB starting at 5:15 p.m. -- we're posting the piece here as well.

TC Running Company

Entering its sixth year, the Hamline Elite Meet has created an album’s worth of memories for the athletes, coaches, parents, and fans fortunate enough to share in this unique track and field competition. On the nine-lane Klas Field track before you and on the fields in and around the red oval, Minnesota’s top high school track and field athletes have waged homestretch battles, set records, and confirmed their status as the “elite” of their sport.

Tonight, another bumper crop of Minnesota’s finest is destined to etch new athletic feats into memory for themselves and for anyone fortunate enough to witness their exploits. With talent, perseverance, and a dash of good fortune, we’ll witness efforts tonight like those that stay with us from previous Hamline Elite Meets.

Like, the double victory Alicia Rue earned in the inaugural 2006 Elite Meet. The future Golden Gopher All-American became the meet’s first double winner, winning the 100-meter hurdles and establishing what is still the meet record in the pole vault at 12-3.

And who can forget Mike Torchia and his win in the 2006 Elite Meet 3200m? The Rochester Lourdes star ran a solo 8:59.19 -- a mark that remains the meet record despite challenges to it by the remarkable crop of distance runners in the years that followed.

13.1 Mpls

Fans at the 2007 meet saw Forest Lake’s Kristie Buerkle establish meet records in the 200m and 400m. In boys’ action, Irondale’s Andy Richardson established himself as a fan favorite winning the first of two consecutive 1600m crowns with his patented kamikaze start and furious finish.

Despite the rain at the 2008 meet, Wayzata’s Jordan Helgren, Minnesota’s most decorated female triple-jumper, won her signature event in a meet record 37-11 ¾. Likewise, Kasson-Mantorville’s Micah Hegerle found enough footing in the discus circle to mark a meet record 179-11.

In 2009, on a chilly April night, fans left Klas Field buzzing about Buffalo’s Zach Mellon and his “double triple.” Mellon won an unprecedented third straight Elite Meet 800m crown and was a triple winner at the meet itself, anchoring the Bison’s champion 4x 400 and 4 x 800 meter relay teams. In the field, Blaine’s Nicole Murphey defended her long jump title with a record-setting leap of 18-1 ¾.

Last year, Bagley/Fosston’s Analisa Huschle made the headlines becoming the first athlete to win three individual events at the Elite Meet. Huschle topped Murphey in the long jump, won the triple jump with a 37-2 ¾ mark, and took the 200m in 25.43.

This year Huschle, the Minnesota all-time record-holder in the long jump, will attempt her triple again. Whether or not she succeeds could depend on the exploits of another athlete attempting to win three events at the meet. Richfield sophomore Jessica January, the fastest 100m and 300m hurdler in the state last year, will attempt to win those events as well as the long jump at tonight’s meet.

Other girls’ events to pay close attention to include the 800m, where Fergus Falls’ Haylie Zenner, the event record-holder, aims to win her third-straight Elite Meet title; the 400m and 3200m, where defending champions and meet record-holders Erica Dombro of Highland Park and Maria Hauger of Shakopee will try to defend their 2010 crowns; and the discus where St. Francis’ Maggie Ewen seeks to defend her 2010 title.

On the boys side, Red Wing’s Luke Johnson will attempt to defend the shot put and discus crowns he won last year; defending 300m hurdle champ Jerome Begin of Buffalo looks to defend his title and improve upon his meet record; and Edina’s Devin Crawford-Tufts, the second-faster Minnesota high school 100m runner of all time and #5 all-time at 200m, will attempt to win the Elite Meet sprint double.

But, expect surprises too! In competition like the Hamline Elite Meet, it’s impossible to predict who might emerge unexpectedly victorious. Perhaps some unheralded athlete will make the Elite Meet stage his or her own, and add to the history of the meet in one smashing effort, etching new memories into the annals of this unique athletic event.

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