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Wednesday, May 22, 2024
HomeSportHigh SchoolMariner Track Season Wrap UP

Mariner Track Season Wrap UP

Submitted by Kerri Bilben

WKHS Track Team completes their 2023 season. Pictured with Sophia Blanck (center) are Sierra Geatz (L) and Val Melander (R). (Photo submitted by Kerri Bilben)

The WKHS Mariner track team finished the 2023 season at the MSHSL State track meet in a very unique way. One that Head Coach Rick Frericks has never experienced in his tenure. Sophomore Sophie Blanck qualified for the State meet when she won the 800m at the Section 7A meet at UMD on June 1, securing her second trip in a row to STMA. This has been her goal, along with qualifying for the finals, ever since she ran a 2:19 at the first meet of the year in Rosemount, MN. She just never planned to win on a broken leg that would prevent her from actually competing at State. A calf injury late in the season masked the true threat to her State goal, but didn’t stop her from winning the multiple big races as she neared the Section meet, including the Matt Kero, Polar League Conference, and Sub-Sec­tion races. Prior to the season ending injury, Sophie had the top 800m time in the state for Class A girls.

“I’ve never had a season ending injury on an athlete happen right before the state meet. It’s a very hard thing for a coach to imagine, let alone experience. She’s earned the right to go to State, so we will go and celebrate even if we don’t get to see her show the other schools what she’s capable of,” Head Coach Rick Frer­icks said shortly after the broken fibula diag­nosis. Next season Sophia will be competing for the Brainerd HS Warriors as her family is moving west to be closer to family. “Once a Mariner, always a Mariner.”

8th Grader Sierra Geatz and Freshman Val Melander were able to travel with Sophia to the meet where they were able to experience being student workers at the AAA, AA, and A prelims and finals. Working as a student volunteer allowed the girls to be on the track, with the competitors, and act as a motivator to return next year as competitors themselves. Sierra finished 4th in the 800m at Sections with a PR of 2:32:58 while Val finished 4th in the 400m with a time of 1:03:92, just missing her season PR of 1:03:42 which she set at the Sub-Section meet the week prior.

Other notable Section finishes for the Mar­iners included Junior Tonja Thomas who had two PR races, finishing 3rd in the 100m (13:03) missing returning to State by one place, and 5th in the 200m (27:20). Tonja competed in the 200m at the 2022 State meet as a member of the THHS Agates.

On the boys side, Sophomore Jacob Carpen­ter finished 5th in the 100m with a PR of 11:77, Sophomore Ayden Althaus finished just out of the medals in 7th, but ran his best time of the season in the 400m (54:53), while Freshman Nick Swartz finished 10th in the 1600m. Junior Cash Williams also battled late season injuries that kept him from advancing out of the Sec­tion meet. Sophomore Kale Hackensmith was able to compete at the Section meet for the first time as a member of the 4x200m relay team when a baseball playoff game kept Andrew Wehrman from competing.

“We had a pretty young team this year. We only had one Senior, while half of our 25 per­son team was in 7th or 8th grade. We lost a good group of competitors last year, including Nate Bilben (who finished 7th at State in 2022 in the 800m), Kaleb Krech, Elijah Blanck, and Dylan Swartz whose family moved to North­land Remer (he finished 6th at State this year in the 400m with a PR of 51:06). We may not have ended the season healthy, but the kids are super motivated for next year. I’m excited for next year, as well, especially for those athletes who were so close to advancing to State this season,” Assistant Coach Kerri Bilben said.

The 2023 track season was definitely one for the books. Not just because of the injuries that plagued the Mariners, but for the hard work that all of the athletes put in, competing against themselves to achieve a PR at each meet. It can be easy to think a team consists of only those who make the paper; a team is always more than those few names. Here is the full roster of the 2023 Mariner track team:

Sabrina Russell
Cash Williams
Tonja Thomas
Andrew Wehrman
Sophia Blanck
Trenten Meeks
Sophie Betzler
Avry Thompson
Val Melander
Ayden Althaus
Christina Kaiser
Jacob Carpenter
Camryn Hipple
Kale Hackensmith
Sierra Geatz
Nick Swartz
Kjersti Hansen
Remy Braun
Stella LaPointe
Dain Thompson
Liz Swartz
Theron Kapps
Grace Swartz
Ninarjen Hirani
Isaiah Smith

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