Bringing home back-to-back titles

Junior Jessica Stendahl makes her way over a hurdle in the home stretch of the 300-meter hurdles at a meet at Chisago Lakes earlier this season. Photo by Kat Ladwig

Junior Jessica Stendahl makes her way over a hurdle in the home stretch of the 300-meter hurdles at a meet at Chisago Lakes earlier this season. Photo by Kat Ladwig

NB track girls win True Team sections—

The North Branch girls track team brought its A-game to the True Team Section 7AA meet in Hibbing last Tuesday. The Vikings captured the title for the second year in a row and totaled 555 points, beating out Cloquet by three points and Grand Rapids by 7.5 points.

Meet officials stalled the Viking celebration temporarily, however. Head coach Norm Nagel said the girls waited 45 minutes in the rain and cold alongside Cloquet and Grand Rapids for results to be processed.

“The Cloquet coach for the boys comes out of the booth holding their trophy, so us coaches for the girls go up, and they still have six events to punch in,” Nagel said. “We were up three points, then one, then three again and finally they punched in the throws, and we had won. We were pretty happy and pretty excited, but we had to eat cold pizza that we had ordered a lot earlier. We had to celebrate with cold pizza on the ride home. It was worth it.”



North Branch made it happen with a strong showing all around, starting with a third-place finish by sophomore Mikayla Johnson in the 100-meter dash with a time of 13.95. Junior Katy Trunk earned points in the event as well, taking seventh in 14.16.

Sophomore Cassie Kunshier beat out her Hibbing opponent by one-tenth of a second in the 200-meter dash to take first place with a time of 27.18. The sophomore also took third place in the 400-meter dash (1:01.10) just behind her sister, junior Maddy Kunshier, who placed second in 1:00.95.

Sophomore Rhianna Rinke narrowly missed top honors in the 800-meter run. Rinke crossed the finish line in 2:28.71, while Kailee Kiminski, of Esko, took first with a time of 2:28.70. Rinke came back to take first in the 1600-meter run in 5:17, beating Grand Rapids’ Erin Baker by half a second.



Junior Jessica Stendahl placed third in the 100-meter hurdles in 17.87 and earned the same placement in the 300-meter hurdles in 51.38. Eighth-grader Savannah Linkert took seventh place with a time of 53.00.

The Viking’s 4×100-meter relay team of Johnson, Trunk, senior Kadie Mattson and sophomore Julia Rupp took first place with a time of 53.38 to earn big points for North Branch. The 4×200-meter squad of Maddy Kunshier, Cassie Kunshier, Mattson and Stendahl also took top honors in its event, finishing more than a second ahead of Proctor with a time of 1:50.23.

Maddy Kunshier, Mattson, Rinke and senior Haley Huset made up the 4×400-meter team, which earned second place in 4:15.



In the field events, Johnson and ninth-grader Katie Burnside went one-two in the pole vault to give the Vikings the edge they needed. Both athletes were the only vaulters above 8-6. Johnson cleared 10-0, while Burnside cleared the same height at a later attempt.

Trunk, a newcomer to track and field this year, placed fourth in the long jump with a distance of 14-0.

Sophomore Josee Axberg was the runner-up thrower in discus with a distance of 85-6, and also took fifth place in the shot put with a mark of 31-8.5. Sophomore Anna Perrault earned sixth place in the shot put, throwing a distance of 29-6.

Looking back at the meet, Nagel said he is “happy, very happy” with the results.

The Vikings compete at the True Team State meet on Saturday, May 17, in Stillwater.

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