NB track sends four to Hamline Elite Meet

Vikings compete at Monticello, Cambridge-Isanti

Sophomore Mikayla Johnson, junior Arik Steele, sophomore Rhianna Rinke and freshman Katie Burnside competed at the Hamline Elite Meet last Friday in St. Paul.  Photo supplied
Sophomore Mikayla Johnson, junior Arik Steele, sophomore Rhianna Rinke and freshman Katie Burnside competed at the Hamline Elite Meet last Friday in St. Paul.
Photo supplied

The North Branch track team was spread thin on Friday, with athletes representing the Vikings at three different locations, a result of rescheduling due to inclement weather last Thursday. North Branch had four participants at the Hamline Elite Meet in St. Paul, a program first. Head coach of the girls squad, Norm Nagel, said they did not disappoint.

Sophomore Mikayla Johnson took third place in the pole vault by clearing 11-6, beating her personal best record by 6 inches. Katie Burnside competed as the only freshman in the pole vault and cleared 10-0.

Sophomore Rhianna Rinke entered the meet ranked No. 14, then turned heads with a seventh-place finish in the 3200-meter run with a personal-best time of 10:54.

Representing the Vikings boys was junior Arik Steele, who placed second in the 110-meter high hurdles in 15.04. The hurdler finished behind Jon Tollefson of St. Croix Lutheran, who set a meet record with a time of 14.42.

North Branch also competed at the Monticello Invite on Friday, where the runners racked up the points for the Vikings.

Junior Maddy Kunshier ran a season-best 1:00.45 in the 400-meter run, knocking three seconds off her time and earning first-place honors. Nagel said he hopes to see Kunshier in the 58-second range by the end of the season. Sophomore Cassie Kunshier took second place in the 200-meter dash in 27.46.

The 4×200-meter relay team of the Kunshier sisters, senior Kadie Mattson and junior Jessica Stendahl took first place in 1:50.11, while Stendahl also placed fourth in the 110-meter hurdles with a time of 18.07 and seventh in the 300-meter hurdles (52.39)

In the field events, senior Haley Huset and Mattson each jumped 4-6 in the high jump to take sixth and seventh places, respectively.

Sophomore Josee Axberg earned points in throws, placing seventh in the shot put at 31-04 and eighth in the discus (88-8.5).

North Branch took sixth of seven at the invite with 56 points. Monticello took the title with 154.5 points.

The Vikings also sent their underclassmen to compete at Cambridge-Isanti on the same day. North Branch tallied 30.5 points for seventh place of eight teams.

Nagel said that with the season halfway over, the girls are looking strong.

“I believe it’s going to come down to us and Grand Rapids for the Section 7A True Team title,” Nagel said. “The girls are working hard to defend their title from last year. It should be a fun meet to watch.”

On the boys side, North Branch took sixth place of seven teams at Monticello while earning 50 points. Osseo took first with 143.5 points, edging out the host team who had 142 points.

Sophomore Aaron Irvin finished strong for the Vikings with a fourth-place finish in the 200-meter dash (23.82) and ninth place in the 100-meter dash (12.19). He was also part of the 2×200-meter relay team which took first place with a time of 1:34.09. Also part of the winning foursome was junior Kyle Crandell, junior Max Southbloom and sophomore anchor Matthew Marrin, who also placed third in the 200-meter dash in 23.64.

The 4×400-meter relay team of senior Brandon Thauwald, seniors Hector Rosales and Blake Herdina and sophomore Kennedy Ashley took fourth place with a time of 3:40.81. Ashley also earned points in the 400-meter dash with a seventh-place finish (54.84)

In the field events, Crandell won the pole vault by clearing 12-0, while Southbloom jumped a personal best of 18-1.25 in the long jump, good for eighth place. Southbloom also took sixth in the triple jump with a distance of 38-4.

Sophomore Devin Grode placed just outside of earning points with a ninth-place finish in the long jump, but recorded a personal best of 18-5.

Despite also having a diminished squad at Cambridge-Isanti, the Vikings took sixth place of eight team with 34 points. The host team took the title with 186.5 points.

Head coach Tom Kingsland said with the progress his team is making, “It will be exciting to see how we finish.”

North Branch next travels to Chisago Lakes for a meet on Friday, May 2.


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