Reid Pierzinski finished his high school track career on the highest of notes, and now he is looking to start a whole new chapter.
The recent Pequot Lakes graduate managed to finish first in the 110 hurdles, 300 hurdles and 200-meter dash, as well as seventh in the triple jump, accruing enough points to win the state team title all by himself at the Class A meet on Saturday, June 9.
"Last year, we placed second and we had more points (than this year)," Pierzinski said. "I got seventh in the triple jump this year, so I didn't get as many points as we had hoped, but still came away with (the title). I feel like it was kind of lucky in a sense, but it is also a really cool accomplishment."
Pierzinski, the son of Rodney and DeAnne Pierzinski, is no stranger to state meet success. As a junior, he claimed the state crown in both hurdle events and was a part of the state championship 4x400 relay team. The boys teams as a whole - with more than just Pierzinski participating - finished second that year.
"It was a different state meet this year," Pierzinski said. "I was the only guy going down there this year, on a bus with I think 14 girls. It was Disney movies all the way down. I had a hotel room all to myself ... Just being alone, I think I was able to be more mentally prepared. At 6 a.m., it was just me and (boys coach Dave) Guenther eating breakfast in the lobby. It was just different this year."
Despite that, he came home with three individual state titles and the team crown - not bad for someone whose passion for track "just kind of happened."
"My dad had run track and cross country, so I wanted to try those two sports," Pierzinski said. "I did distance in my first year, and I did not enjoy that. My friend and I decided to try sprinting, then I met (hurdles coach) Kathy (Allen) and we had a ton of fun with her, and I realized that was where I wanted to be."
He participated in the 200-meter dash for the first time this year because he wanted a fourth event at meets and that one took place conveniently between his two hurdle events. He ended the season as Class A's top runner in the event.
Though he ends his high school career as one of the top runners in Patriot track and field history, he enjoyed track more for the friendships he made.
"I'm more in track for the the camaraderie and the strategy behind everything," Pierzinski said. "I don't really celebrate my wins that much. I love the competition, but as soon the race is over, it's over and I'm looking to see what else is happening."
In the fall, Pierzinski will join the track and field team at South Dakota State University, where he intends to major in math education and eventually pursue a career in school administration. He agreed to join the Jackrabbits in part because of a track facility and coaching staff he described as "amazing," as well as the school having the educational programs he hoped to enroll, but also admitted to having personal reasons for wanting to spend the next four years in South Dakota.
"I would be lying if I said they didn't have amazing hunting and fishing there," he said. "I love that. If I can find time between studying and running, I will definitely be hunting."
In his first year of college, Pierzinski said he hopes simply to "survive" and find a balance between track and his education. Once he has done that, he intends to reevaluate his goals on the track.
Until then, he can have peace of mind about the example he has left for his fellow Patriot runners, especially the younger ones that looked up to him.
"The legacy I think I've left is that you can work toward anything," Pierzinski said. "If you put your mind to it, you can do it ... You just have to push forward."