Tappe, Patriots 4x100 relay win titles
The Pequot Lakes track and field team needs to make more room in its rapidly expanding trophy case.
The Patriots added two more state titles on Friday and Saturday, June 6-7, at the Class A state meet at Hamline University in St. Paul. On Friday, senior Tyler Tappe pulled away from the competition to win the pole vault with a leap of 15-feet. Then on Saturday, the Patriots' 4x100-meter relay defended its state title as Rachel Allen, Chloe Bermel, Sarah Rudlang and Vanessa Lane finished in 49.46 seconds.
The 4x100 had set a girls' school record as the top qualifier in preliminaries with a 49.45 finish. Allen, Bermel and Lane were all on last year's state champion relay while Rudlang replaced graduate Abby Palmer. Allen and Lane were also on Pequot Lakes' 4x100 relay that won state in 2011.
"I'm so proud for all four of them," Pequot Lakes coach Jana Lueck said of her relay. "The strength and ability of (the 4x100 relay) give me chills every time they run."
Lueck add that the handoffs were a key to winning the title.
"With the 4x100, it boils down to having a group of quality runners who are dedicated to each other, and are willing to work hard to perfect their handoffs," she said. "Some of our competitors had trouble with their handoffs at state, but our handoffs made our relay a success. It's something our girls work on all year long."
The handoffs needed to be perfect, especially with a series of injuries that almost sidelined Lane, who has served as the relay anchor for five years. Just an hour before the 4x100 relay, Lane competed as the defending champion in the 100 dash. She was an early leader, but finished seventh in 12.9 seconds due to multiple injuries over the past month. There were then concerns if she could compete in the relay.
"Vanessa re-injured her hip flexor in preliminaries on Friday," Lueck said. "We had an alternate (Grace McGuire) ready to go while Vanessa was in the medical tent, but Vanessa said she was 'ready to go.' She did great, and everyone else knew they had to do a little more. The third handoff between Sarah (Rudlang) and Vanessa was pulled off beautifully."
It helped that Lane didn't need to start out in the blocks for the relay, something that hindered her in the 100 dash.
"The energy you use coming out of the blocks seemed to further her injury," Lueck said of Lane, who won the 100 dash title last year in 12.48. "I think she was compensating for the other injuries and ended up with a knot in her calf. Vanessa gave it everything she had (in the 100), but sometimes your heart just can't pull you through."
Lane, who will be running track next fall at South Dakota State University, also qualified for state in the 200 dash and long jump, but didn't make the finals. She ran a 26.59 in the 200 and had 14-8 in the long jump.
Also on Saturday, Pequot Lakes' 4x400 relay of McGuire, Lyndsey Johnson, Rudlang and Bermel finished fifth with a school-record time of 4:06.44.
"The 4x400 did a great job in setting a record," Lueck said "Sarah and Chloe ran on both of our relays and did great. Sarah really had a fabulous run in the preliminaries."
Senior Ellie Erholtz finished 10th in the discus and 11th in the shot put for the Patriots, who tied for 10th overall with 20 points while Minneapolis Edison was first with 40.
"Ellie didn't get the medal stand, but I'm proud of her for making it to state in both events. She really enjoyed her time at state."
Tappe takes the title
Tappe became the second Pequot Lakes athlete to win a boys' state title as graduate Nolan Michaelson won the long jump in 2012.
Tappe just missed winning the state pole vault last year when he tied graduate Grant Krieger of Blake for the title and the Class A record with 15-6. But, Krieger reached the mark first and claimed the championship.
On Friday, Tappe didn't have that same battle to the finish as he clinched the title with a leap of 15-0. The next closest competitor was Eli Beachy of Perham at 13-3. With the title already earned, Tappe did make three unsuccessful attempts to set an all-time record at a height of 15-8.
"He had nothing to lose," Pequot Lakes coach Dave Guenther said of Tappe's record attempt. "When there's an opportunity, (Tappe) won't back down."
Guenther said the senior, who will compete in track next season for the University of Minnesota, was battling strep throat all week before state.
"He was taking antibiotics and he was very tired," Guenther said. "He slept in the van on the way down to state. It was pretty scary for a while. Fortunately, he had enough time to rest for the vault after competing earlier in the (4x100) relay."
Also on Friday, Tappe anchored the Patriots' 4x100 relay, along with Chase Blaeser, Cole Funk and Isaac Allen, to a 45.58 finish in preliminaries.
"Unfortunately, the relay didn't advance to the final," Guenther said. "It was tough, especially with Tyler not feeling well. The did accomplish their biggest goal of making it back to state for the fourth straight year."
Pequot Lakes senior Travis Jacobson rallied with his final throw to finish third in the shot put with a 52-10.25 toss.
"When the pressure is on, Travis comes through," Guenther said. "He also came back in the end at sections (to qualify for state)."
Jacobson also competed in the discus, and finished ninth with a 146-6.
The Pine River-Backus boys' 4x200 relay of Shane Sepin, Jacob Harper, Tyler Bestgen and Henry Krecklau represented the Tigers at state and finished in 1:34.55 in Friday's preliminaries.
"We knew we had to cut more than a second off our qualifying time to reach the final," said PR-B coach Tom Demars."We did cut some, and had our best time of the year, but it wasn't enough to advance. We do have two of the relay members back next year."