Gallery: Albert Lea boys and girls excel in hurdles at Big Nine Conference Meet
Published 6:00 pm Saturday, May 24, 2014
Albert Lea’s highlight of the Big Nine Conference track meet was the boys’ 300-meter hurdles Friday at Austin.
Preston Smith entered the race seeded first with a time of 41.53 seconds. He shaved 0.86 seconds off that time to edge Austin’s Adam Bergstrom, who finished in 41.39 seconds.
“To leave as a Big Nine champion is a special thing,” said Albert Lea boys’ coach Kevin Gentz. “It was a great day for him, and you just can’t find a nicer kid than Preston Smith.”
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Smith also took seventh place in the 110-meter hurdles with a time of 16.64 seconds.
“Last year, he didn’t make the 110 (hurdle) finals, and he worked really hard in the offseason to do that,” Gentz said.
As a team, the Albert Lea boys’ and girls’ teams both finished last, but Gentz and girls’ coach Margo Wayne were more interested in individual improvement than team totals.
“Their place isn’t indicative of how proud I am of their performances,” Wayne said. “They worked really hard and rose to the occasion.”
The winner and runner-up of each individual event was given All-Conference accolades, while the third- and fourth-place finishers were All-Conference honorable mention. In relays, the first-place team was All-Conference, and the runner-up was All-Conference honorable mention.
Smith’s performance in the 300 hurdles gave him All-Conference recognition, and the girls’ team had two All-Conference honorable mention runners: Bryn Woodside and Larissa Hacker.
Hacker set a personal record in the 300 hurdles by finishing in 49.20 seconds. Her seed time was 50.08. She was one of six runners to break 50 seconds, and she edged Karli Fink of Rochester Century — the fourth-place finisher — by 0.06 seconds.
Woodside cut more than nine seconds from her best time in the 800 to take fourth place with a time of 2:27.52.
“That was only the second time she’s ever run the 800,” Wayne said. “She had to do that while running in the heat before the fastest heat.”
The Albert Lea boys’ finished in the top 10 in six other events.
Tyler Anderson took eighth place in the 800 with a time of 2:08.49. He also ran a split of 2:04.67 in the 4×800 relay along with Caleb Troe, Blair Bonnerup and Brandon Bonnerup. The group took fourth place with a time of 8:32.96. The Tigers took ninth in the 4×200 and eighth in the 4×400.
Issac Ware took eighth place in the high jump with a leap of 5 feet 7 inches, and Tim Christianson tossed the shot put 41-7 1/4 to finish 10th.
The Albert Lea girls’ team had seven additional top-10 finishes.
Krystal Thompson followed Hacker in the 300 hurdles to take eighth place with a time of 50.79. She also took ninth in the 100 hurdles in 17.73 seconds.
In the triple jump, Elisa Staat took sixth place with a leap of 32-9 1/2.
The girls’ team also finished sixth in the 4×400 relay, seventh in the 4×800 and eighth in the 4×100.
The Albert Lea boys’ and girls’ teams will compete Thursday and Saturday at the Section 1AA Meet at Lakeville South High School. Thursday will feature prelims and and finals for the 1,600, 3,200 and relays. The rest of the finals will be Saturday, Gentz said.
Statistics are in the Scoreboard: May 23 post.