Bartusek shines down the stretch

Published 12:00 am Monday, June 11, 2001

BLAINE – As she the final turn, it looked like it was not going to be Emily Bartusek’s day.

Monday, June 11, 2001

BLAINE – As she the final turn, it looked like it was not going to be Emily Bartusek’s day. She was near the back of the pack, trailing a talented field in the 400-meter finals of the state track and field meet.

Email newsletter signup

Then something clicked.

&uot;Coming around that corner, I thought, ‘It’s too early to tell who’s going to get what place. I’m not going to settle for last, or fifth,’&uot; said Bartusek. &uot;I just went out my hardest and gave it all I had.&uot;

It was enough. And it was impressive.

Bartusek passed several runners down the stretch and was nipped for third in what turned out to be a historic two-girl race. Bartusek finished fourth in 57.16 seconds, earning the second state medal in a row for the Albert Lea High School freshman.

Vanessa Clarida, a freshman from Bloomington Kennedy, defended her state title with an all-time state record of 54.36. Kou Lougon of Park Center was right behind at 55.94, with Forest Lake’s Amanda Mueller third at 57.10.

Bartusek’s medal came at a price. She aggravated a hip flexor injury that bothered her early in the season and was in the trainer’s tent minutes before the 200 final. She did not place in the 200, where Clarida won in another all-time state record.

While Bartusek did not make the finals in the triple jump, she was satisfied with the meet and the season.

&uot;I’m real happy about today,&uot; said Bartusek. &uot;I think the 400 was great, and I was real happy to get here for the 200 and the triple jump. I’m content. I just wish my hip would have held up in the 200.&uot;

Bartusek plans to compete this summer in Junior Olympics track and field and in the State Games of America at St. Louis.

The Tigers’ other state competitor, senior Nick Cunningham, cleared 6-2 in the high jump but did not place.

It was the end of a long varsity career for Cunningham, who earned 12 varsity letters in football, basketball and track and field.

&uot;Wow, I think that makes me officially done,&uot; said Cunningham after missing his third attempt at 6-4.

Cunningham has plenty of competition in his future, though. He heads to Gustavus Adolphus College June 24 for a week of practice for the all-star high school football game, where he’ll probably play defensive end. He’ll play football this fall at the University of South Dakota.

Cunningham said there was too much going on to be sentimental about his final time in an Albert Lea uniform.

&uot;I don’t think I could ask for more,&uot; he said. &uot;I had a lot of fun.&uot;