Steele takes second in hurdles, Johnson earns third in pole vault
The North Branch track and field athletes’ heyday came at the state track and field meet at Hamline University over the weekend.
On the boys side, junior Arik Steele returned to the elite meet to earn himself two podium spots. The hurdler came back determined after not making the finals in the 110-meter hurdles in 2013 to earn second place in the same event this season with a time of 14.61. Junior Matt Baker of Mounds View took the title in 14.54. Steele earned a medal in the 300-meter hurdles with a time of 40.85, good for seventh place.
Junior Kyle Crandell captured a podium spot in the pole vault. The Viking cleared 13-6 for seventh place in the event. Senior Calvin Deike of Mankato East won the event at 14-6.
Junior Matthew Marrin competed in the 200-meter dash and earned a strong time of 22.48, despite not qualifying for the finals. Both Steele and Marrin were a part of the 4×100-meter relay alongside juniors Max Southbloom and Eli Chouinard. The relay was disqualified on an exchange.
Senior Brandon Thauwald was the final Viking to represent North Branch at the state meet, where he jumped just 1 inch shy of his personal best at 5-10, which was six spots and 2 inches shy of earning points.
On the girls side, two Vikings took the podium.
Sophomore Mikayla Johnson hit her stride in the pole vault by jumping four spots from seventh place in 2013 to take third-place honors and a medal by clearing 11-3. She was one of four pole vaulters to exceed the 11-foot mark. Sophomore Andrianna Jacobs of Rochester Century took the title at 12-6, which is 6 inches shy of the all-time state record.
Ninth-grader Rhianna Rinke also medaled on the track. The distance runner earned eighth place in the 1600-meter run with a time of 5:01, then took 17th in the 3200-meter run with a mark of 11:11.22. Rinke was also a part of the state-qualifying 4×400-meter team alongside senior Haley Huset, sophomore Cassie Kunshier and junior Maddie Kunshier. The relay squad competed in the preliminary round and came in at 4:08.13.
Cassie Kunshier competed in the 200-meter dash (26.45), while Maddie Kunshier represented North Branch in the 400-meter dash (59.04). Junior Jessica Stendahl also competed at Hamline in the 100-meter hurdles. She posted a 15.84 in the preliminaries.