Sunday, June 07, 2015

Meleah Biermaier: A Northern Minnesota Success Story

Thief River Falls' Meleah Biermaier knew she'd won the 300 hurdle AA girl's championship, but she didn't hear the announcer broadcast her time, 42.13. After walking off the track and getting some water, she started asking what her time was.  When she was told it was 42.13, she didn't believe it.  Neither did the other participants.

"No way!" they repeated.  Then they looked up at the scoreboard that was scrolling the results.  Yes way, it was 42.13.  Not only had Biermaier broken the Class AA record she set in the preliminaries on Friday.  She had also broken the All-Time MSHSL championships record held by another Northern Minnesotan, Lisa Brateng's 1987 mark 42.62.
Lisa Bratend(left) poses with Meleah Biermaier. Photo by
John Millea, MSHSL

Brateng, from Roseau, is a coach at East Grand Forks and has followed the Thief River Falls junior throughout her career.  She was at Hamline for the meet and the pair shared their stories after the awards ceremony. "I'm short, she's tall.  If I can do this, anybody can do this," Bratang said.  She joked that she had helped Biermaier because: "We wanted to keep (the record) in Section 8."

She knew she'd seen a prodigy in Biermaier, who'd been introduced to hurdling by her dad, who had her going over hurdles at age 2.  "We raise some strong and hearty ones up here," said Brateng.

Biermaier's father, Mike, is also her coach and he has the added challenge of keeping his daughter focused on track.  Volleyball, Meleah confesses, has been her first love, but now her greatest success is in track.  Fortunately she doesn't have to choose between the two now.

When Brateng set the record back in 1987, she said: "I wanted to break that record and have it stand for more than 10 minutes."  Biermaier has one more season to perhaps improve again on her record so whoever eventually breaks it doesn't take it away soon.  Brateng hasn't totally lost her place in the record books, though.  She was running in Class A when she set it, and since Biermaier is AA, Brateng's single A record is still waiting to be broken.

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