Boys track and field: Ponies qualify trio for state in 3,200

Stillwater seniors Eric Colvin, right, and Wayde Hall, left, finish 1-2 for the Ponies in the 3,200-meter race on Day 1 of the Section 4AA meet at Stillwater Area High School. (Gazette staff photo by Stuart Groskreutz)

Stillwater seniors Eric Colvin, right, and Wayde Hall, left, finish 1-2 for the Ponies in the 3,200-meter race on Day 1 of the Section 4AA meet at Stillwater Area High School. (Gazette staff photo by Stuart Groskreutz)

OAK PARK HEIGHTS — Like a good chase scene to end an action movie, Day 1 of the Section 4AA track and field meet closed with a thrilling race in the 3,200 meters on Tuesday at Stillwater Area High School.

When the smoke cleared, Ponies senior Eric Colvin ran a 9:03.86 to eclipse Lindsay Brown’s previous school record of 9:05.30 that has been on the books since 1978. Colvin wasn’t just chasing Brown, however, as he also held off senior teammate Wayde Hall, who finished second in a time of 9:06.71, which ranks third on Stillwater’s all-time list.

Kevin Meads competes in the 300 intermediate hurdles prelims on Tuesday.

Kevin Meads competes in the 300 intermediate hurdles prelims on Tuesday.

Colvin and Hall were the headliners in a superb race that also featured third-place Jacob McDermott (9:09.53) of Cretin-Derham Hall and Stillwater freshman Eli Krahn (9:11.50) qualifying for state in the event. All four easily surpassed the state-qualifying standard of 9:24.72 and each also eclipsed Luke Watson’s previous section record.

Brown’s school record has been more impressive when you consider the athletes who have tried and failed to erase it over the past two decades — a list that includes several state champions, collegiate All-Americans and four sub-four minute milers.

“We’ve thrown Andy Tate, Luke Watson, Sean Graham, Ben Blankenship and Jake Watson — we’ve thrown everything we could at that record — and now Eric broke it,” Ponies coach Scott Christensen said.

And yet the coach is certain that trio is capable of even more when they run at state next week.

“I’m very proud of how fast they ran tonight and three going to state, but their workouts show they can go faster,” Christensen said. “My markers are always practice and I practice with them nine months out of the year. We maybe have 20 meets so they don’t tell me a whole lot — they tell me a lot about the rest of the track team because I don’t get to see them the rest of the year — but I honestly believe they’ve got a lot more in them based on their workouts, and that’s encouraging to me.

“It’s not that I’m not proud of them, but I know they can go faster. As fast as they’ve run, I don’t think this is their best race and hopefully that will be next Friday.”

In addition to the distance trio, senior Connor O’Neill qualified for his third straight trip to state in the pole vault after placing second in that event on Tuesday with a height of 13-11. Teammate Sean Tompkins followed in third place after clearing 13-5 to score valuable points for the Ponies, who opened up a 22-point lead on White Bear Lake in the team standings after four events.

Alex Burback placed sixth in the shot put for the Ponies on Tuesday with a distance of 46-9.

The other event completed on Day 1 was the triple jump, which is the only event Stillwater did not advance anyone to the finals.

“Of the 18 events we have finalists in 17 of them so I continue to be pleased with the complete team we have,” Christensen said. “It’s not a surprise we did, but it continues to show that we have a good track team everywhere.”

The finals in the remaining 14 events are scheduled for Thursday at SAHS.

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