St. Croix Lutheran's Jon Tollefson's last trip to Klas Field at Hamline University was not a happy one. Unaccustomed to running in the outside lane, Tollefson was disqualified at the Hamline Elite Meet when his trail leg went over the side of the hurdle, not the top as the rules state. His run in the qualifying heats of the 110 Hurdles on the opening day of the MSHSL Outdoor Track Championships will be remembered more fondly.
When asked at the Elite Meet what his goals were for the season, Tollefson said he wanted to run under 14 seconds for the 110 hurdles. Friday he made his wish come true streaking to a Class A record of 13.92. Tollefson also won his heat of the 300 hurdles with the second fastest time of the day 39.65. He'll go for a double in individual events on Saturday and he is the anchor man on St. Croix Lutheran's 4 by 400 relay.
He's not alone and will have competition for the title of the busiest athlete in Class A. Defending team champion's Minnehaha Academy's Jonathan Webb had the fastest time in the prelims of the 100, 200, and 400 on Friday. Waseca's Shane Streich only had to run two events, both prelims. He ripped through the 800 heats with a time of 1:51.04, fast enough to get a qualifying time for US Junior Nationals. Then he made up ground on the anchor leg of the 4 by 400 relay to win the heat. He made up the deficit halfway through the first turn and sailed down the backstretch lengthening his lead.
Then he took his foot off the gas, being careful to go fast enough to win comfortably but not expend any more energy than he had to. Saturday Streich will attempt to duplicate his wins in the 800 and 4 by 400 relay as well as win the 1600. Even if he only wins two of the three, Streich will easily take the title of the top Class A distance runner in Minnesota. Streich won the Class A XC title last Fall, and will be headed for the University of Minnesota in this Fall.
The top two finishers in the only track final of the day haven't yet graduated from middle school. Breck School 7th grader Morgan Richter ran like a veteran to win the 3200 in a PR of 11:18.61. 8th grader Gabrielle Ferrell was second. Richter ran comfortably at her pace for the first mile of the race, gradually reeling in early leader Ellyssa Peterson and building a nearly ten second gap between herself and the three person chase pack that attempted unsuccessfully to keep up with Richter.
Morgan said she has been running in 5K road races and was encouraged to try the sport by her father, who ran for Hopkins and Dartmouth in his youth. She likes the sport, but when asked what her long term goals were, she said she hadn't decided as yet because "I don't know what my potential is yet." For now, she's just going to enjoy the sport and see where that takes her.
In contrast, three seniors battled for the boy's Class A 3200 title. Perham's Billy Beseman said he'd been dreaming of winning the event for years. He'd watched his teammate, Perham grad Keegan Hurley, win last year and was thankful when Hurley, now attending Iowa State, made a surprise visit back to Perham this week and wished Beseman well in his pursuit of the title. Not a big kicker, the tall, lanky Beseman had been working all season on the 7th lap solution.
In practice, as well as in meets, Beseman utilized a strategy of accelerating during the 7th lap of the 3200, basically a half mile from the finish. He got comfortable with the risky tactic and was confident that he could seal his coveted win using this gambit. When he took off on the second to last lap, Beseman quickly opened up a gap of nearly 50 yards on Minnehaha Academy's Ephraim Bird and Park Rapids' Isaac Overmyer. He held that gap to the finish with Bird closing it slightly down the homestretch when he kicked past Overmyer to take second.
Asked what he thought when Beseman took off, Bird said he knew Beseman he wasn't likely to come back or be caught by his pursuers becasue he'd seen Beseman do it before. Both Beseman and Bird ran PRs as did Overmyer. Beseman said he was surprised that the pace early in the race was faster than he expected, but that didn't deter him from his race plan as Beseman had run his previous PR of 9:24.76 at the Hamline Elite Meet in May. Judging by his times, Beseman should run at Hamline more often as his new PR of 9:23.14 attests.
Beseman isn't finished, however, along with Streich, he'll be running the 1600 on Saturday. After the 3200 he was off to take an ice bath for recovery and get ready for his last high school race. He's only seeded 13th in the field and his qualifying time is nearly 23 seconds slower than defending champ Streich's. He beat Streich in the 3200 at the Hamline Elite Meet. Realisitically he'll be running to finish as high up the field as he can to add more team points.
The success of his Perham teammates and the obligation they all feel to support one another is a great incentive to run fast, said Beseman. You're not running for yourself. You're doing it for the team. Streich and Bird will be doing the same thing.