Sprints, relays key to Magicians’ success

The Minot High boys track and field team has relied mainly on its sprint core and relays throughout the season. This year’s state meet, which begins today at the Bismarck Community Bowl, will be no different.

The Magicians are the defending state champions in two events: the 100-meter dash and the 400 relay. Karter Gorney claimed the 100 title in 10.85 seconds as a sophomore and enters this year’s meet with the second-best qualifying time at 10.80. Only Devils Lake’s Bradley Davidson (10.74) has clocked a faster qualifying time.

Gorney was part of the 400 relay team that took home Minot’s first-place finish last year, teaming up with Dylan Jechort, Josh Pizzo and Alex Yanosko for a time of 43.16. Jechort graduated and Yanosko won’t compete due to injury, but the Magicians appear to be fine with Myles Preskey and Tre Kinchen serving as their replacements. That relay team broke the West Region meet record in the 400 at 43.11.

“Our sprint core is very seasoned,” Minot coach Aaron Klingbeil said. “Those guys have run together for a while. We’re relying on them, but we also have a couple younger guys. We have Myles Preskey in the mix and he’s going to be learning quite a bit.”

Gorney, Jechort, Yanosko and Pizzo were 0.11 seconds off of Century’s winning time of 1:29.50 in the 800 relay.

“Since we won state 4×1 last year, we always want to repeat that and always looking to improve from our second-place finish in the 4×2,” Pizzo said. “Primarily, since we don’t have a lot of field events, we have to get a lot of points on the track.”

The Magicians had a few last-second distance qualifiers at the region meet three in the 1,600 and one in the 3,200. Seniors Dylan Ellis and Andrew Beach and freshman Gabe Hegstad qualified in the 1,600 and Dylan Ellis in the 3,200 to give Minot a chance at scoring in the distance events.

While many are looking to get on the podium, Minot senior Ben Love is just looking to get over the hurdle of advancing past the preliminary round. Love, who will compete in the 110 hurdles and pole vault, has missed out on the finals by the slimmest of margins the past two years.

“For me this year the prelims are my biggest race because last two years I missed finals by just a couple hundredths,” Love said. “That’s been kind of eating at me all offseason just to make it to finals this year.”

The Magicians are hoping to squeeze every last point out of their track athletes because their field participants have been stretched thin. Aside from Yanosko not competing, Minot will also be without senior Anray Fiers (undisclosed reasons). Fiers had the top distance in the triple jump at 44 feet, 6 inches and owned the second best long jump at 22-0 1/4.

Minot has only three field athletes competing in two events. Preskey will be the lone Magician in the long jump and junior Sam Paszek will join Love in the pole vault. Paszek qualified at the region meet with a height of 12 feet.

Despite a couple of late scratches, Minot is still eyeing a better result than last year’s sixth-place finish.

“I would love to have third, but realistically we’re sitting at a scenario where we’re looking for fourth or fifth,” Klingbeil said.

Majettes peaking

at right time

Unlike the boys team, the Minot High girls track and field team has relied heavily on its field events, most notably the discus and shot put.

But recently, especially at the West Region meet Saturday, the Majettes showed their potential on the track. Minot had nine state-qualifying times in the 12 track events. Madison Milbrath (400-meter dash), Kylie Alexander (100 hurdles) and Sophie Bengson (300 hurdles) all placed third in their respective events at the region meet. All four relays posted state-qualifying times and the 1,600 and 3,200 relays finished second.

“We had an unbelievable track meet on the oval,” Minot coach Disa Salander said. “It was great. I was running back and forth between the throws and the track and I came back with great news from our hurdlers, our relays were amazing. Just every girl in general competed their butt off.”

As a result, the Majettes have athletes competing in nine track events and 14 events overall. Minot entered the region meet without state qualifiers in the 400, 3,200 and 3,200 relay, but it will now be represented at the state meet today at the Bismarck Community Bowl.

“There have been a lot of people peaking,” Annika Arnold said. “Everyone peaked just these last two weeks and we had a lot of people qualify at Last Chance and WDA and that’s a lot more people going and our 4×8 just qualified, which we’ve been working on all year.”

Arnold was the second leg of the 3,200 relay finished the region meet with a state-qualifying time of 10 minutes, 10.19 seconds. Also part of the relay team is Jayden Moum, McKinzie Fettig and Meg Super.

Salander still expects big things from her field athletes. Jessica Drady and MacKenzie Gleason have two of the top three throws in the discus entering the state meet. Gleason placed third at state last year with a throw of 118 feet, 3 inches and Drady finished sixth at 118-8.

“The girls that went last year are ready for it,” Gleason said. “We know what we’re supposed to be feeling like. Our two new throwers , they don’t know what it’s like and I’m trying to tell them it’s the calmest meet ever and it’s going to be really great.”

Allison Rabe (shot put) and Melora Haagenson (discus) are making their first appearance at state. Rabe qualified by 1 inch with a throw of 35-7 at the region meet.

Javelin, long jump, pole vault and shot put all take place on Friday, which will give the Majettes a good sense of where they stand in the standings come Saturday.

“I can’t tell you where we’re going to be (in the standings),” Salander said. “Our field needs to show up. They had a tough time at WDA. We need some points in our field.”

Mike Kraft covers Minot High athletics and general assignments. Follow him on Twitter @MKraft24_MDN.